It occurred to me recently that I am living through the greatest creative renaissance since Shakespeare.
And it's on television.
I could make an argument as to why but arguments are a drag and Emily Nussbaum over at New York Mag already made a much better and more eloquent than I ever could. Seriously, if you love pop culture or television in more particular at all you absolutely must read this essay.
The fact remains, however, that we are living in an age of greatness. So instead of focusing on the brilliance of television, like the finest three minutes I've ever seen on tv, or the prospect of a brilliant final season to one of my favorite shows, I would like to bring up all that is kitsch on the boobtoob.
- Heroes still sucks. I didn't think that anyone in the world could possibly ruin Robert Knepper as a carny. But Heroes did just that. Of course, I'll continue to watch it because I'm a sucker and pray that Peter Petrelli vs. Gabriel Gray is coming. I'm too invested at this point...I just absolutely can't miss that if/when it happens.
Interestingly enough, though, Heroes is the most pirated show on television. If NBC is smart, they are shoving this down advertisers' throats.
"Look, I know pirated versions aren't showing your ads, but you can't deny that someone is watching the show anymore. Use our characters to your delight: have Nathan Petrelli flying alongside a Continental airline jet, have Claire Bennet literally killing herself for a Klondike bar, have Hiro Nakamura stop time to enjoy the second half of his Twix bar...just whatever you do: pay us for it. Please."
Of course NBC won't do this because...
- NBC is stupid. I was going to write a comprehensive history of how NBC fucked up the Jay Leno/Conan O'Brien scenario but then I realized that I already did...13 months ago.
- Finally, don't look now but the 8th and hopefully final season of 24 airs tonight. 24 is not the finest show to ever air on television. As a matter of fact, 24 has been a truly terrible show at some points in its history. But just because it is above-average at best, doesn't mean it isn't important.
24 has rolled along with America's changing social, political and racial attitudes from the dawn of a new millennium. Season 1's depiction of shadowy Eastern European villains looking for vengeance to Season 2's depiction of Middle Eastern extremists under the control of American oil magnates is the effective passing of the torch for the American boogeyman. In 2001 the American subconscious redirected its fear from men named Viktor and Yuri to men named Achmed and Yusuf.
Probably more important than the show, itself, is the show's protagonist. I honestly cannot imagine an early 2000's America without Jack Bauer. Kiefer Sutherland has fallen mostly into self-parody at this point in his portrayal of the un-kill-able secret agent but I actually couldn't be happier that he has. Some television characters grow and show depth over many seasons...Jack just remains a consistent jingoistic killing machine. And we need that. We need somebody to yell "damn it, Chloe!" into a cell phone and constantly assure the viewer that "we're running out of time!"
Jack Bauer is America's James Bond. Where Bond reflects the English self-image suave sophistication, Bauer has reflected the rugged and brutal ideal that America holds itself to. I am hoping that Jack Bauer makes the jump to feature film and leaves Kiefer Sutherland behind. Not that I don't love Sutherland because I do, but if I want to see Captain America, Jack Bauer survive as an ideal he's going to need some more interpretations of his "character" (just imagine how Chris O'Donnell or Donnie Wahlberg will sound yelling "damn it, Chloe!" into a phone.) Jack Bauer has his Sean Connery...now he needs his Roger Moore.
So I pose to you, 24-America: if Jack Bauer is to become the timeless character I want him to be, who should portray him next in the inevitable 24 movie?