TV's dramatizations of the war on terror (Alias, 24) tend to be idealized, in both directions: evil-genius terrorists being foiled at the last second by even more brilliant good guys. In a mere six episodes, this story of American and British counter-terror spooks (shot on both sides of the Atlantic) told a mature, involving story that was both more complex and more realistic. Its interweaving stories of terror plots balanced derring-do with behind-the-scenes politics (within, and between, in the Western governments and in the Islamic terror groups), and showed the determination and weaknesses of both sides, all with a minimum of cliches and histrionics. (Even Dylan McDermott, The Practice's serial screamer, managed to rein in his performance.) Unlike most TV terror stories, the attacks were sometimes foiled only partially or not at all, but if the good guys didn't always win, the viewers did.
Next Dwell (Fine Living)