Whose technobabble is better: “24’s” or “Star Trek’s”? Seriously, I can’t count how many times in each episode of “24” they use some vaguely computer-ish jargon—“open more ports”, “you’ve set your SIP adapters wrong on the server whatchamacallit”, “the setzer valve is not properly aligned with the glove-compartment filter(*)”—that to the uninformed either sounds impressive or very boring, and for the nerdy gives them goosebumps as they imagine that a hot chick like “Nadia” would even know what an IP port or encryption protocols are. (Insert Jerry Lewis “Nutty Professor” voice here: “Pretty lady, knows about computers, mmm, very pretty, reset the ports, oh BOY!”)
What a geek dream: a world where the primary qualification to be a counter-terrorism expert is being a Unix sysadmin and where in order to catch terrorists you just need bigger and better databases. Add to that an arsenal that includes not only standard issue 9mm Berettas, but also Pocket PCs that can download satellite feeds and smartphones that can link through a dozen different networks to disarm a ticking bomb.
Now, while I’m amused by the technobabble as much as the next guy, I’m starting to think that the producers of “24” use it like dramatic spackle, filling in the holes in the plot as they move the real action heroes into place. After all, they’re hampered by the foundational gimmick of the show that it all takes place in real time. While it increases the drama, it also bends credulity with Jack Bauer flitting about the greater Los Angeles metroplex like a hummingbird, unencumbered by the traffic, speed limits, the laws of physics, etc.
Yet, I’m still a fan of the show as it provides a dramatic diversion once a week rooting for the invincible man, Jack Bauer, to go through hell once more to stop the bad guys.
* - extra credit if you can tell me where the quote comes from.