Tuesday, January 03, 2006


In 2001, a show debuted on Fox called 24. Many people watched it; I didn't. I am a person who can't abide not catching a show from the beginning if it truly is quality, thus I didn't want to come in in the middle. Weirdly, while I was in Rio - yes, Rio - in 2003, my hotel room had FX and it was replaying all the shows consecutively. More out of curiosity to see American programming and to pick up a little Portuguese - the subtitles were in Portuguese - I watched a few shows that I now understand to be the middle of season 2. Anyway, I never watched the show, always figuring that I kind of did want to watch it but would have to wait til I found it playing all in a row or possibly renting it on disc.

Well, over the Christmas holiday this year, I did something I have maybe done few enough times in my life to count on one hand - I clicked on a website's ad. The ad was for a free video iPod. The reason I had clicked was I had vaguely heard that the free iPod offers from a year and a half ago were genuine, that people really did get the iPod for assisting in some kind of viral marketing thing. Anyway, this ad and that previous awareness were unrelated, but I only found out too late. What this was, you get afree iPod if you sign up for service contracts with 8 - yes EIGHT! - different companies. Except they cleverly do it in first you sign up for two offers, then two more offers, then four offers. I was proceeding my way through this and signed up for Netflix, Blockbuster and some wine delivery service (which I will cancel before any product is delivered) before I realized what a scam this was and backed out. So I am not getting an iPod and all I get for my troubles is irreversible pollution of one of my yahoo email accounts with bullshit marketing and spam.

But once I got the Netflix and Blockbuster accounts, I decided the time was right to check out 24. Each service allows you to rent 3 discs at a time of $18 a month, unlimited rentals. I figured I'd have an orgy of series I'd wanted to catch up on (24, Lost, Arrested Development, The Wire, Oz) and then cancel the service. Well, my very first shipment of discs from Netflix and Blockbuster was supposed to contain discs 1, 2 and 3 from Netflix and 4, 5 and 6 from Blockbuster. Netflix shipped me discs 2, 2, and 3, naturally.

It's such a small thing, and yet so perfectly encapsulatory of American business' growing lazyness and incompetence that I was forced to meditate on our dying-days-of-Rome country for awhile. Oh, and naturally I discovered this on a Friday before a long federal holiday weekend, meaning that if I wanted to wait for the replacement disc it'd be Tuesday before they even began processing remedy. I decided screw that, I'd just go to Blockbuster or Hollywood Video and rent the first disc. Which naturally calls into question the value of the $36 total I'm paying per month in subscription for Netflix and Blockbuster. But anyhow, I digress. I will be posting a humorous exchange of email between me and Netflix later and so now you have the setup. But this post is about 24.

What happened was I watched the whole first season and then rented the whole 2d season from Hollywood Video for $15. Then I rented the whole 3d season from Blockbuster (it's a little closer if more expensive by an extra 20%). As I type this I am finishing up the 2d season. But only a couple hours into the first season (remember, zero commercials, zero waiting between episodes), I realized I was expeiencing the television programming equivalent of pure crack. This show is incredible. It's got some minor flaws here and there, but the entertainment value, plot, pacing, acting, suspense, tension... all of it, it's just easily one of the five best TV series ever, and probably the best non-HBO series ever. We could be talking about Deadwood, Sopranos, 24 as the triumverate. Not even Seinfeld gets in there, although in fairness, they shouldn't be in the same categories considering drama vs. comedy.

Anyway, the experience I have had in the last 72 hours has been magical from an entertainment standpoint. I realize you can only see something for the first time once, and so I am relishing this in an orgiastic way. I can't imagine watching the upcoming 5th season that premieres in about 11 days on a week-by-week basis. Watching one after the other is just too incredible. It would be like vaguely hearing about the Sopranos and what a good series it is and then renting seasons 1-5 on DVD and watching them back to back to back to back times 60 shows or however many there have been (65?). Watching 16 in a day.

Twin Peaks needs a mention here. I never heard about the show (it happened during my freshman year in college) until the season finale and who killed Laura Palmer was a front page USA Today story. Then I spoke to my family who naturally was addicted to the show and had taped every episode. During Thanksgiving of my 2d year, I watched the entire first season on one long day on videotape and was blown away. Watching 24 is like that. Just an incredible cultural indulgence.

The point of all of this is that if you haven't seen 24 (I know roughly half of you have and roughly half of you haven't) then you need to find some time to make it happen. Because it's amazing. You will be hooked immediately. Get it done.


Blogger TubaOnFire said...

I saw the first season week by week and it was great. The second one was OK, too. It couldn't hold though. It became a little ridiculous. For the first season, we saw it sequentially. I really liked it that way. You looked forward to Tuesday to see what happened that week. I found the suspense enjoyable. I also liked The Green Mile as a serial.

The only problem I had with season 1 24 was bad guy inflation. The first bad guy in 24 is so good. He sees everything, he controls everything. But then he is dispatched and none of the other bad guys were as cool as he was. I always wondered, why did he work for them. He was the true bad-ass.

Your exchange with Netflix was fabulous.

1:30 PM  
Blogger TubaOnFire said...

So are we getting Assuie coverage??

2:07 PM  
Blogger TubaOnFire said...

Saw something on TPM, which I will be unable to find, so no link, just a quick paraphrase. Basically, this guy thinks the GOP is hoping that the Dems make a big fuss over the Nixionian illeagal wiretapping of US citizens. His premise is that they will easily be able to spin this as: Jack Bauer (Bush) is trying to protect us from terrorists and the snivling lawyers (the Dems) are trying to stop him. The Dems, being the Dems, will be helpless against this. The American people, being the American people, will fall for it.


2:30 PM  

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