"This must be what crack cocaine is like." So said my wife, halfway through the first season of 24. We'd rented the discs from the local video store, and were having a very difficult time restraining ourselves from watching all 24 episodes in one sitting. The "ticking time bomb" narrative device is viscerally effective, especially in an environment where paranoia reigns supreme. I'm not the first to point out that the show perfectly embodies the working day atmosphere in Corporate America; in 24, everyone around you could turn out to be your worst enemy.
Lots and lots of "fun", to be sure. But I stopped watching the show at the end of Season 2, for two reasons: (1) Season 1 closed on a tragic note, but one that resolved every frayed storyline we'd been exposed to; Season 2, on the other hand, saw fit to conclude with two portentous scenes that ominously suggested everything was about to take deeper and darker turns than we could possibly have imagined. If you've been reading this blog, you will know that nothing pisses me off more thoroughly than getting strung along with no resolution in sight. I believe the technical term for this is called, "Being taken for a chump." (2) Back when I was a sullen adolescent, my mother would take note of a particular book I might be carrying around, or a television series I was hooked on, or a band I'd developed a taste for. She'd ask me about it, and if I painted a picture that raised a red flag or two, she'd trot out the Pauline injunction, "Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." I'm sure I set her heart to rest with a snort and a sneer, but if you hear something like that frequently enough, it sticks to the brainpan. It's a quarter-century later, and I've stopped watching 24 because it makes me feel like shite: twitchy, edgy, suspicious, angry so that when some bad guy gets it you jump to your feet, pump your fist in the air and shout, "YEAH!! DIE, DIE, DIE!!!"
Hm. I jumped from first person to second person. Anyone else notice that? That shift in perspective is pretty common among those of us Doing The Program.
You can Do The Program, too: go cold turkey, and break yourself of the 24 habit. Need another good reason? The entertainment lords and dealers behind 24 are amoral creeps.