Thursday, October 06, 2005

TV Matters - Or Does It?

I've just looked over the Age Green Guide to get an idea of what kind of crap I'll be watching on television over the next week. There's a longish preview of next Monday's episode of 24 which gives the show a pretty thorough slagging off. I'm not sure that's entirely justified but I'll reserve judgement until I've seen it for myself.

Here at the Pascoe Vale Dacha, we've taken to recording 24 while we watch something marginally more intelligent and then replaying the video with a lot of fast-forwarding through all the soap opera stuff, like Jack Bauer's intense D & Ms with his girlfriend Audrey. This helps to bring out the underlying hilarity of the show, and the sly tongue-in-cheek in-jokes that the script writers seem to be slipping in. I could be wrong about the in-jokes; my belief that some of the scriptwriters on 24 must be taking the piss might just be an instance of the lefty preference for conspiracy theories over much simpler cock-up theories.

In last Monday's episode, Air Force was shot down by a rogue fighter pilot in a stolen stealth fighter. The good folk at CTU took a little time out from fretting over their completely bollixed personal lives to start fretting over the location of the "nuclear football"; a nickname for a briefcase holding everything you need to launch the US' nuclear arsenal. Jack was sent off to recover it from the wreck of Air Force One. What followed was some of the best inadvertent comedy I've seen on television this year. For starters, there was that scene of Jack walking through the wreckage of Air Force One, calling CTU to announce: "This is Jack Bauer. I'm at the crash site. I do not have possession of the football, I repeat, I do not have possession of the football."

This was followed by a sequence which showed us where the football was; a couple of newly woods who had gone out in the wilderness to camp and "make a baby" discovered the football in some wreckage from Air Force One near their camp site. You have to admire the ordinary American s they show on 24: when these people discovered the wreckage, they immediately focussed on the big issue, the threat to national security. There was none of that self-indulgent oh my God, big plane fell out of the sky and nearly killed us I am so freaked out by this crap. There's a marked contrast with the staff at the CTU, who seem to put a lot more effort into ensuring that the demands of protecting national security don't get in the way of talking out their personal crises. It's fortunate for America that some of the characters in the show have got their priorities straight.

Naturally the terrorists are also after possession of the football; so we got a sequence showing the terrorists coming to get it in their four-wheel drives while the husband frantically tried to find the radio transponder the terrorists were tracking with a compass, before disabling it with either "a knife or a sharp rock". This bit nearly had Zeppo Bakunin and me in stitches as the husband bravely held back his natural impulse to just get the hell out of there and did his bit for his country, like any good average American would. And there was plenty more "football" dialogue, of course.

It all culminated with the terrorists gaining possession of the football, I repeat, the terrorists gained possession of the football. The show ended, more or less, with Jack finally in possession of the football and telling CTU that the football had been compromised. Next Monday, the terrorists are off to steal a nuclear weapon, which they intend to arm, using the activation codes they took from the compromised nuclear football. According to the GG this takes us into some pretty vile territory so it may prove a lot less comic.

One new show to watch out for, assuming that it does appear, is Channel 10's new Aussie drama The Surgeon. I caught a promo for it last night: it featured this dramatic piece of dialogue: "You're trying to save his leg. I'm trying to save his life." Promising. Very promising.

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