Fox's "24" TV Series

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It's no secret now. At the end of this week's season premiere of Fox TV's anti-terror action drama "24," the worst happens. There's a raid, gunfire, screaming, chaos, a trigger flipped — and a tall, horrifying mushroom cloud rises over Los Angeles. "24" hero Jack Bauer can't stop it. The terrorist nuke is detonated.

But hang on. There are four more, we're told. Four more cities to be hit or saved. Concentration camps full of Arabs going up. White vigilantes jumping olive-skinned neighbors. Torture commonplace.

So what is "24" telling us? This is necessary? This is a nightmare? This is how to produce human adrenalin?

This hour On Point: the mayhem, the message, and the politics of "24."

Quotes from the Show:

"The nature and ambition of '24' is to generate excitement and to push buttons and, although liberals have gotten upset with the show understandably for some of its depictions ..., I think actually that when you take a look at the six-season history of the show now, it's often pushed as many buttons on the other side." James Poniewozik

"It's not unlike many crime, military, police-type shows where they have a fundamentally conservative undertone. I don't mean conservative here as left and right. I mean, when you have a protectionist narrative, when you have a group of people constantly in need of being protected from some outside force, the idea is to heighten anxiety about that. So, all crime dramas have fundamentally this kind of self-protectionist trajectory. Of course, the terrorist context only exacerbates that in this show." Tricia Rose

"This is a show that people love and conservatives will want to take credit for it. The other part is also that we do fear this is the way we're going — there might be an 11-week stretch with 10 cities being hit by terrorists at some point in the future. But the other thing that I think is important that people see in this show, especially if you watch the first four episodes of this season and the previous episodes, is how it speaks to regular Americans being critical for our security. ... This isn't about the government keeping us safe all the time." Timothy Carney

"We're not trying to turn anyone's imagination anywhere. If anything, we're trying to bring up some issues that are certainly present and at hand here, and even before that, we're trying to tell a good story. We subordinate everything to the fact that we're a thriller and we obviously want to be a compelling television show. But along the way, because the subject is terrorism, these things come up, and to the extent that we have a point of view, the point of view is really bringing up all the issues, which are very complex, and for which they're not good answers." Howard Gordon


James Poniewozik, media critic for Time Magazine.

Tricia Rose, pop culture commentator and professor of Africana Studies at Brown University.

Timothy Carney, contributor to the National Review Online and the Washington DC Examiner.

Howard Gordon, executive producer of "24."

This program aired on January 18, 2007.


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