Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just a theory

I've been thinking a lot about television. Specifically, about what's on the television.

3 Law and Orders
3 CSIs
2 NCISes
Cold Case
Criminal Minds
Lie to Me
The Mentalist
The Forgotten
even Psych
... and that's not even counting Cops and America's Most Wanted.

Look, I love a good police procedural as much as the next guy, but does anyone think 20 hours of these per week is a bit, well, much?

I have this theory -- it isn't a perfect theory (and it isn't a well-researched one, either) -- but I posit that there's a reason for this.

24 premiered in November 2001. And I expect the idea for that puppy had been percolating around for long before two months. But what a remarkable coincidence that shortly after terrorist attacks made everyone in America feel unsafe and uncertain, TV comes along with a freakin' Counter Terrorist Unit that is chock full of people who are able to make those hard decisions in order to get shit done. Damn. That's some good watchin' for a twitchy population.

I particularly like the idea of shows like Numb3rs and Castle, where it isn't exclusively police who are doing the crime-solving. "Yes, mathematician or novelist, you too can be part of the law enforcement effort." It's like we're all joining the same team -- and in applying our own unique talents to the problems at hand, we civilians can be just as good at crime-solving.

Think back to before 9/11. Think back to Rodney King and the riots -- and the time when we generally viewed the police with suspicion. Think about six Police Academy movies, when cops were humorously incompetent and only succeeded by accident. That sort of thing wouldn't fly now, because there's something in our collective subconscious that wants to see law enforcement be efficient and successful -- even against incredible odds.

I wonder how much longer we'll need this many shows to make us feel safe.

1 comment:

Janiece said...

I've always thought the 24 phenomena was exactly as you describe, but it never occurred to me that the plethora of police procedurals were of the same ilk.