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Ah, it's '24' season again...

Yes, it is time for a new season of Fox television's "24," where special anti-terrorism agent Jack Bauer is always saving the world.

Last season was quite good -- good enough that we put it on the cover as part of what we billed a "FCW fact check" on what was real and what wasn't.

In its five seasons, "24" has attracted millions of fans whose hearts pound with every beep of its relentless time clock. That digital countdown embodies how technology drives nearly every aspect of the show — the tension, plot twists and teamwork of good guys and bad guys alike. The show's technology and subject matter draw some of the most ardent viewers: federal and private-sector employees, many of whom work in information technology, homeland security and law enforcement.

"It's probably the sexiest way they have shown technology on TV to date," said Timothy Heffernan, a self-professed "24" fanatic and director of government relations and public affairs for Symbol Technologies, which makes wireless and radio frequency identification products.

The show is fascinating because it highlights some of the issues that counter-terrorism groups face, in a very dramatized way, of course.

Time magazine this week (I'm still not used to getting it on Friday) had an interesting piece talking about the "evolution of Jack Bauer."

As the [Iraq] war has dragged on and become less black-and-white, so has 24. In 2003 it featured a conspiracy to provoke a Middle East invasion using bogus WMD evidence. (Yellowcake, anyone?) Last year's villain was the President, who had his predecessor assassinated. In the new season, a string of suicide bombings has led, chillingly, to federal "detention centers" for Muslims, much like in the liberal pre-9/11 movie The Siege.

Then there's Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), who has seen his wife killed, executed an innocent man to stop an attack, tortured people (sometimes mistakenly), been tortured and spent two years in a Chinese prison. Unlike James Bond, who just gets younger and tougher, by the new season Bauer is tired, disillusioned and wondering how much longer he can fight the Long War. His scars are not only physical; his work has cost him relationships and perhaps some part of his humanity. He has been changed and damaged by every compromise he has had to make. By extension, he forces us to ask if we have too.

It is a fascinating program.

This season opener is getting some mixed reviews. Here is Slate.com's review:

The producers of the counterterrorism action hit make a virtue of the show's preposterous narrative, setting up plotlines more byzantine than Rube Goldberg contraptions and then rigging things such that the very contrivance becomes an object of wonder and an essential part of the fun.

But it is always interesting to see how Hollywood views government, and, by extension, how people see government.

One addition: As I was watching the second part of the first four of the 24 hours, there was an ad that you can buy those shows TODAY. Yes, the day after they air. It is just remarkable how times have changed. Not only do people TiVo shows so they can watch them when they want, now the studios really have to put them out on video and on Apple's iTunes downloading bonanza pretty much right after they air. The LAT has more here. Talk about competition.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jan 15, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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