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Your quote, " suffer for your soup,” is certainly apt if one watches the show 24.
After enduring the entire first season, my viewing dropped off precipitously through the following seasons. While the show’s concepts were certainly well-crafted in expected television dramatic form, they were superficial enough for the masses, to infer credence to its messianic focus with ludicrous methodologies of government agencies. With little gray is offered---the good (mostly white Americans) could battle evil (swarthy terrorists), whose sole purpose is to destroy the American way-of-life on our own soil(!).
Concepts in the other shows identified: Battleship Gallactica (BG), Lost, and The Wire are anything but gray. Referring to 24 and The Sopranos on the same plane with those shows, offers an alignment of shallow, simplistic ‘reality’ with series entertaining through thoughtful scholarship and superb writing. (I do concede that The Sopranos did have great dialog, unfortunately conveying a pretentious ‘goodness’ in the heart of evil, vile and narcissistic people. The day-to-day Sopranos were proven true in the only slightly-less sociopathic Housewives of New Jersey.)
My point about the citically acclaimed (BG), Lost, and the Wire and the popularly acclaimed 24, The Sopranos, and the highly pop-praised The Shield is particularly apparent on the subject of violence. Violence in former series is a by-product of their storylines. Yet the stories of the latter revolve around violence offered for visceral effect as necessary and triumphant. As a combat veteran, I’m not reticent about portraying violence, so long as it’s shown realistically, not in the faux versions exciting and acceptable by viewers in most movies and television programming.
The current television wasteland is far more vast than Newton Minnow could ever have imagined in the early 1960s. So-called ‘reality shows’ and many of the most popular dramatic shows are watched by millions who want to believe weighty day-to-day issues are being tackled and examined (medical and police dramas)…in a triumphal manner by prime characters, who are ‘good’ or even ‘good-bad, but not evil’ heroes.
Actual long-tailed stories portrayed in a form of ‘docudrama’ by The Wire or ‘fantasy drama’ by BG and Lost is considered “too confusing,” or difficult to “get into,” by many who instead choose to watch less intellectually taxing series offering bimbos attracting bimbettes or washed-up rock stars choosing the most pathetic wench as the most loveable groupie to be his love interest.
I find it interesting that in her concluding remarks, guest Diane Winston made reference to Max Weber’s concept of the ‘Iron Cage,’ obviously not referring to the current all-out street fighting phenomena in the guise of ‘sport.’ The reality is that this entertainment is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of sports, a par with baseball and professional football. That indeed is an interesting perspective on the spirituality of television entertainment.