Friday, November 30, 2007

Terrorists Strike The San Fernando Valley (again...yawn)

Perhaps the Hollywood writers' strike is a good thing. For a start off I read that filming of the 2008 season of 24 has been put on hold indefinitely because it hasn't actually been written yet. Maybe the writers and producers of the show can take the opportunity to have rejig, because the 2007 season struggled and wheezed its way, in an attempt to fulfil the whole 24 hour format.

Now I'm not really in the camp that says that 24 is a PR exercise for torture. That's because, unlike the many special interest groups that jump on TV shows and attack their ideology, I know the difference between fiction and the real world. Also, torture has been a staple of spy thrillers since spy thrillers were invented, Felix Leiter being fed to the sharks, Bond strapped to a table with a laser heading for his cojones - torturing spies, and spies torturing others, is a familiar thing, The problem with 24 is that everyone gets tortured, and in increasingly nasty ways. People die from it, or are killed just for the hell of it as Jack and co exercise the demons that drove them to be insomniac action spies in the first place.

It becomes repetitive, and ultimately boring.

The other thing that jumps out more and more is that, with the world teetering on the edge of destruction and Presidents and governments under peril from double agents and power-hungry corruption, all the action takes place within about 20 miles of downtown LA. At least Alias tried to pretend that Sidney and co were zipping around, rendered to all corners of the map to fight their bloodless fights. To have one major world-threatening crisis focused on Los Angeles is okay. Two is just about acceptable. But six in a row is just unbelievable. There is no real reason why much of CTU's work couldn't be done from anywhere, given that it is all based on computer screens. Chloe and Co could easily operate from a cheap site in an industrial estate in Slough and not suffer a dip in performance (and to be honest, if they can only avert a crisis with the help of one maverick agent who only gets anything done if he goes dark, you'd think someone would question their efficiency and done some outsourcing by now). They also seem to get attacked about once a season. If your top anti-terrorist HQ was so vulnerable in real life then you might do something about it - perhaps bulldoze it for the downtown LA real-estate value and build a new one underneath a mountain in Utah.

The problem is that it's just not credible that in trying to take over the world/bring down America/set off nukes, terrorists would repeatedly focus their attack on Los Angeles, a place most people wouldn't notice if it was nuked and a place much of middle America would secretly quite like to be blown to smithereens. In the world of 24 Washington, New York City and any other large city or military installation is ignored.

Yes I know it's budget constraints. The same ones that used to set every cowboy movie in the dry parts of California (and some backlot in Studio City) when the real prairies are green and rather lush, But after so long it gets samey. Spies and anti-terrorist people are different from the rest of us, who restrict our movements between home, work and the shops and inscribe tight geographical circles.

The bottom line is that 24 needs a rethink before the the law of diminishing returns claims it.

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