Thoughts on some television programs I have recently watched

I liked the first season of “24” quite a lot, even toward the end when it started getting completely silly. But this season, it just seems tedious. Maybe it’s just the real-time format, too hard to sustain over the long run, but it seems like all we’ve had lately is people being semi-tortured as other people shout “Where’s the bomb? Where’s the bomb?” Maybe it’s just too close to the anxieties of daily life right now — the ongoing plot, if you don’t follow the show, involves terrorists with a nuclear bomb planning to destroy Los Angeles. Somehow this just isn’t quite as much escapist fun as last season’s more personal family-in-danger plotline. And the sub-plots grow increasingly annoying, particularly Kim’s continuing Perils-of-Pauline adventures.

Speaking of Real Time, and how’s that for a segue, I finally watched a bit of the new Bill Maher show. Can’t say I’m sold on it, though I can’t quite put my finger on the specific reason. An hour without commercials may just be too much for that format to sustain, even if broken up by comedians and craaaaazy interludes with Chris Rock. My wife said it best: if I just want to sit around for an hour on Friday night listening to people argue about politics, I can go out with my friends, and then at least I can take part in the conversation. (Speaking of arguing about politics with my friends, I see that my pal Ted Rall is going to be on next week; I’m sure he’ll liven up the proceedings somewhat, in his own inimitable fashion.)

And then there’s Da Ali G Show, which had me literally doubled over with laughter. I can’t remember the last time a tv show had me laughing so hard that tears ran down my face. I’m not even going to try to explain it. Just watch it.