Phew! That was a brutal season of 24 and I mean it in the best way possible. The producers kept building the tension and building the tension and letting off a little steam only to build it some more. I remember when Season 4 was just starting to be broadcast on television a couple of years back there were articles regarding the content of the show and controversy because it features at the beginning of the season a wholesome Arab family working as part of a terrorist network to set off something big. The controversy was that 24 would show Arab Americans in a negative light and that the majority of Arabs in America are law abiding and very much not terrorists. True. But…that complaint missed the larger picture of if you are going to tell a story, on television, film, or in a book about a terrorist acting against and within the United States the most logical and topical terrorist would have to be Arab. Anything else would be avoiding the discussion of what is really happening and 24, happily, refuses to do so. The reason I say happily is that when the Tom Clancy novel The Sum of All Fears was adapted to a film the producers took the still topical plotline of Arab Terrorists with a nuclear bomb in the United States (and consider that this was written before 2001, as was his novel Debt of Honor which predicted the nature of the attacks) and changed the Bad Guys to be Neo-Nazis. I still haven't watched the movie with the Clancy commentary track, but I can only imagine that he was disgusted. Neo-Nazis are not a credible Bad Guy in today's world, but considering that we have been attacked by Arab Terrorists and are continuing the fight against Arab Terrorists then a storyline about terrorism and American pretty much has to feature Arab Terrorists or the storyline will lost most of its impact.
24? All impact. First the threat to meltdown the nuclear reactors (all of them), the attempt on the President, the nuclear warhead. This was a big, big season and it was an astounding season with old characters coming back into the mix. This was the single most thrilling and exciting and powerful season of television I have seen: Period. I love other shows*, but this season was it. 24 has been getting better each season and I really don't see how this will be topped.
The first Episode of Season 5 was broadcast this morning on A&E, so I'll find out and catch up to Season 6 before it airs in January. Can't wait!
*Buffy, Firefly, X-Files, Joan of Arcadia, Dead Like Me, My So Called Life, Angel, Alias, Lost, Eureka, Sopranos. All excellent shows that I have loved and still are favorites. While I would take the collected work of some of these shows over 24, Season 4 of 24 is still the single best season of television I have encountered.