Fans have been waiting almost a year for the return of 24
, one of television's most addictive dramas (or is it?). On Sunday, November 23, the wait will be over as FOX presents a special two-hour prequel event.
In the meantime, do you think "24" is the most addicting show on television? Two Starpulse writers weigh in on whether the fast-paced Fox drama is truly habit forming or merely a passing enjoyment.'24' Is Like Crack
I follow a ridiculous amount of television shows, so much in fact that my roommates and I had to get a second DVR box to accommodate all the shows we watch, since you can only record so many at one given time. Arguing about what show is the most "addictive' may be futile since there are so many great ones, but "24" definitely makes its case for being a very strong form of crack, only it comes in the form of digital video disks.
First, the creation of the groundbreaking show was designed to be addictive. No other show in history had been constructed in real-time. Each episode is an hour, and an entire season makes up a day. Early on, Kiefer Sutherland
commented that "24" was like "Dynasty
on crack," and to some extent he was accurate.
Most shows have cliffhangers a few times a season, especially during the season finales. "24" seems to create one at the end of every episode, which keeps you glued in and more than likely make you feel like you HAVE TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. This can lead to watching 3, 6, 8, and even 10 episodes in a row. Many people who have decided to check the show out on DVD fly through the episodes. "24" was designed to hit that nerve that just makes you want more and more and more.
Arbitrary things like waiting in traffic or taking an elevator up to the 30th floor become nail biting with the "24" formula because every second counts. When you watch a show in real-time, everything is exemplified and everything matters more than your normal contemporary drama. "24" is a season-long action flick with car chases, gun battles, torture scenes, and more twists and shocking moments than most shows can hope to match in their entire run.
Double agents, secret moles, traitors, and power hungry directors - they all help make "24" easy to eat up. At the center of it all is Jack Bauer, an incorruptible patriot and unstoppable force who will do whatever it takes to protect his family as well as the red white and blue. We love him because he is the definition of bad ass, and he lives for the soul purpose of putting terrorist six feet under and sometimes behind bars. The cast of characters are realistic, the action is gritty, and the drama is endless. Who doesn't love good drama?
The action and story is also often shown in multiple boxes on screen. So you can have 3 or 4 things going on in different sections, showing different perspectives, which heightens the action and stress to an exponential level. A terrorist holding a hostage. Jack Bauer trying to find a way in. The President holding a press conference and his family being duct tape and tied down. They are all happening at the same time on screen, and it is almost overwhelming. You want to watch each subplot at the same time. The writers make you care about everything, so the intensity and pacing never lets up.
Another aspect that keeps your coming back for more every season is the setup. Each episode is expertly crafted so that they all fit some sort of puzzle that the viewer may not see right away. For example, in season one, the main focus early on was the assassination attempt of the first African-American candidate for president, David Palmer. That leads to the distraction of Jack Bauer, where his family is kidnapped. He then becomes a tool in the plot against the president, which leads to a shocking reveal about Bauer's past, which may or may not have caused all these events. But since you only see one piece at a time, it is very difficult to predict where things are going and how incredibly important everything really is. This keeps things fresh, exciting, and extremely unpredictable. The unexpected is one of the great things about this show and is why so many people feel they are addicted and want to see more and more of the story, one episode at a time.
The stories stretch in various directions. You are left trying to guess where it will go next, who can you trust, and how the heck Bauer is
going to get out of this mess? The musical score composed by Sean Callery acts as that character you never see, the one that is making you grab your Lazy-Boy armchair so tightly, the one that is making you stand up with your hands on your head in the midst of an action scene or the anticipation of the story's climax.
The creators did their homework with "24" and injected everything needed to make viewers come back time and time again to see what will happen next. In essence, it is a ticking clock, one which stresses you out as you watch it, but when it stops, you feel like you have to keep it going to find out what happens next.