Look, I know it's fiction. I know it can stretch credibility at times. There are even times this season--even last night's episode--when I shook my head and said "No way."
But, holy cow! Did '24' deliver last night. For those who don't know, last night was a special 2-hour event. The bad guys (I'm not going to bother with the recap) stormed the White House. I have to admit that it was hard watching the bad guys take over America's House. It's ours, dammit. It's inviolate. It's sacred. It' not for some tinpot dictator to capture.
The attack, of course, took place in the second hour so we viewers were treated to sixty minutes of hot anticipation. The attack was silent and pretty swift. But the tension was extremely high. I haven't had my heart racing, pulse pounding, palms sweaty over a TV show or movie in a long time. That's the beauty of a show like '24': you don't really know what's going to happen next.
Take "Air Force One": you *knew* going in Harrison Ford was going to win in the end. How about "The Dark Knight." No matter what, Joker was going down, one way or another. Any random episode of "CSI" or "Lost" or just about anything and you stand a better-than-average chance that you know what's coming.
Starting with Season 1 of '24' they tried to break some of those preconceptions. The last episode of Season 1 was heart breaking but it set a tone. The opening moments of Season 5 (gunshots anyone?) took your breath away. Sure, '24' has had some slips (Seasons 2, 3, 6) but this season, they have learned from their mistakes. And they know how to write thrilling, provocative, highly entertaining television.
I think we writers can stand to learn a few lessons from '24'. For starters, I think we ought to be willing to take a course of action that our readers don't expect. It'll turn off some readers but those that stay will thank us for our boldness. I thank '24' for its boldness.
And I canNOT wait until next week!
(Isn't that the point?)