Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Wayne State University Press
Series: TV Milestones Series
Title Page, Editorial Board, Copyright, Dedication
For eight seasons, between November 2001 and May 2010, 24 became one of the most popular shows in primetime, averaging about 10 million viewers per episode.1 Its style and themes have exerted a powerful influence on the television industry and popular culture generally. Its distinguishing characteristics include its formal design, its visual style, and its...
1. 24 and Cultural Forms
In this chapter, I discuss the formal characteristics of 24, including genre, narrative, and character types. Initially, though, it is necessary to discuss 24 as an example of the melodramatic mode. This mode is characteristic of a wide range of American popular culture, including films and television shows, and especially soap operas and primetime dramas like 24. Arguing...
2. 24 and Style
In the previous chapter we saw that 24’s use of the melodramatic mode; action-adventure, spy, western, and soap opera genre conventions; deadline-driven cause-and-effect narratives; and stereotypical characters all contribute to a sense that, on a formal level, and beyond the real-time concept, the series is indistinguishable from many action-adventure films and television series. By contrast, the series gained great distinction and...
3. Themes and Meanings
In the previous chapters I have discussed the form and style of 24, describing how certain genres, narratives, and character types structure the series and how it is distinguished by its visual aesthetic, its particular approach to editing and sound, and its acting and performances. While the series’ real-time plot device is unique, we also noted that 24 is relatively typical of...
Despite its apparent geopolitical relevance, 24 is primarily about entertainment and shopping, not war, politics, or history. Imaginatively capturing the narcotic fantasy effects of the series, Kiefer Sutherland described it as “Dynasty on crack.”1 This type of admission that 24 is nothing but spectacle is made explicit in the final minutes of the series, when Chloe O’Brian...