I've spent the last four days in a world where some of the government's highest ranking officials are corrupt, terrorists lurk on every corner, and secret government agencies operate without regard for constitutionally protected freedoms.
Some might call that reality. I call it "24: Season Five."
If you have watched the Fox TV series starring Kiefer Sutherland, you don't need me to tell you how addictive it is. If you haven't, you're missing one of television's greatest thrill rides as Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer (Sutherland) races a real-time clock to foil the schemes of spies, government moles, and terrorists.
This season was the best yet, with a mortality rate so high it wiped out most of the previous seasons' regulars and a cliffhanger ending that sets the stage for Season Six, scheduled to begin Jan. 14.
I start each season by watching regularly, but by the time I misprogram my VCR, forget about an episode or two, or get bogged down with other things, I lose the continuity threads and fall off the viewing wagon. Luckily, my wife has made it a tradition to give me each season on DVD for Christmas, so I catch up in one long weekend of watching.
That's what I did over the New Year's Eve weekend, ending with episode 24 right after Dick Clark did the countdown and ushered in 2007.
Recently, Stephen King noted in his Entertainment Weekly column that, while motion pictures may be in decline, television is as good as it has ever been. Shows like "Lost" and "24" are part of the reason why.