Wednesday, April 4, 2007

All Jacked up?

Wait... Where do I point this thing again?

"24" is starting to bear a scary resemblance to "E-Ring."

If you remember it, and you probably don't, "E-Ring" was NBC's short lived, Jerry Bruckheimer produced answer to "24," and a precursor to CBS's infinitely superior, David Mamet-produced "The Unit." It starred (using the term loosely here) Benjamin Bratt as a Jack Bauerish special ops soldier promoted against his will to the Pentagon, where he and crusty but lovable warmonger Dennis Hopper (say what??) broke the rules to fight terrorism at home and abroad any way possible.

So far, so good.

But what started out as a nice little show about Americans blowing up Greenpeace boats and laughing about it over the satellite footage soon fell apart.

Just as it was experiencing a ratings bump -- and just after I stuck my neck out to convince people to watch -- we were treated to an episode featuring murderous American Christian terrorists taking over a mosque. (Because that's happening all over the world on a daily basis, right?)

And it just went downhill from there.

The show was suddenly obsessed with depicting the many high-ranking patriotic Muslims rolling out their prayer rugs towards Mecca at the Pentagon on a daily basis. And being careful to give the Koran equal time as "the good book" whenever someone said something nice about the Bible.

And just like that, the show was off the air.

I can only assume a show actually superior to "24" at times, at least in terms of its production values, caved under pressure from the network to be all things to all people.

Likewise, I want to assume "24" is merely following the same pattern this year to either remain "fresh" and unpredictable or because it's run out of authentic storylines to follow.

Either way, it all amounts to biting the Red State hand that feeds you. And if "E-Ring" is any indication, that hand can just as easily sweep you aside.

Speaking of "The Unit," let me stick my neck out again and recommend this show. David Mamet, one of the top dramatists of any medium, also happens to be a hardcore, pro-Israel Jewish American who knows the score in the War on Terror and has yet to give off even a whiff of politically correct or anti-American pluralism. (Check it out Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS.)

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