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24 Begins Its Eighth Day On a Subdued Note...Well, Subdued By 24 Standards

It's pointless to think about 24's politics anymore, at least not in any serious fashion. It's not liberal or conservative. The show practices Bauerism, the belief that in any given situation, Jack Bauer will make the right call.

And when CTU and (with luck) the White House are peopled with devot Bauerists, then 24 rocks. When they're not, the show lags, and that's been one of the only real problems so far this season (which is actually one-sixth of the way over just as it's starting).

We know by now that Jack is always right, yet we have to suffer through people doubting him, while time and lives are lost. Why give him dull bureaucrats for enemies when the Russian mob is out there?

Still, it's nice to have Jack back in action, even if the actual action was in short supply these first few hours. (Although he did dispatch two machine gun wielding bad guys with a fire axe in the first hour, so it's hard to complain too much.) And it's neat to see a lot of interesting actors in the cast:

Doug Hutchison (he was on Lost this past season, but will forever be remembered as Eugene Tooms, the guy who could squeeze himself into any space on The X-Files) shows up early on as an assassin.

Anil Kapoor, who played the game show host in Slumdog Millionaire, has a fairly large role as the president of a fictional Middle Eastern country which we'll call Fakeistan.

And Katee Sackhoff, who was so, so good as Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica, has sort of a thankless role as a CTU analyst with a secret past. It's doubly unfortunate that this storyline is relentlessly dull, and pretty much slams the brakes on the show whenever it pops up.

On the plus side, 24 isn't a show with a great attention span. It's 8 p.m. now in Jackland. By midnight, new threats and new stories are sure to have emerged.

Other thoughts:

  • We should mention the return of Annie Werschling (pictured) as Renne Walker, the FBI agent introduced last season and perhaps the only character as ruthless as Jack who wasn't also a criminal or terrorist. Of course, she makes her big entrance into this season by hacking a guy's hand off, a gruesome note on which the two-part premiere ended. Sort of like the time Jack beheaded a guy to protect his cover. (Way back in season 2, folks). He's clearly taught her a little too well.
  • The new CTU set looks like a high-end coffee shop.
  • This will be the first time since day one of 24 that most of the action in the first half of the season takes place at night. Going into the second season, one of the things the producers did to make the show more accessible was to set the first part of it during the day. At this point, 24 has won its audience.
  • It was to see Kim encourage Jack to stay at CTU, rather than subject us to a tiresome "you've chosen work over your family" argument.

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