‘There is a difference between intelligent shows, and shows that force you to be intelligent. With many TV classics the intelligence arrives fully formed on the words and actions of the characters on screen…. But (recently) programming on TV has increased the demands it places on the viewers' mental faculties.. Viewers no longer require the training wheels… Part of the pleasure comes from cognitive labour’
'By every conceivable measure '24' presents at least three times as complex a social network as Dallas... comparable to the work of George Eliot.'
I am not sure that complexity is all-important however. The narrative line of Criminal Intent is not outstandingly complex, neither does it offer a plethora of social relationships. Like Firefly it has ambiguity, but combined with a certain narrative simplicity. It stands re-watching, whereas I am not sure that 24 does. CSI and ER impart more information per second, but they aren't as deep.
What I like in narrative - the idea that there is something bigger going on below the top level. A complex top level can be good, too, but it's a different virtue,