I have been a fan of the show “24” from the very first season. I remember reading about the concept and how it was supposed to be an entire season where each episode was an hour during one particular day. The buzz was great that first season. It was also a first season that opened with an entire plane exploding in mid-air with the terrorist responsible actually escaping out of the plane to do it. That’s quite an impressive way to start.
From that point forward “24” has seldom disappointed. Has it made a few missteps along the way? Sure, all of us who are fans recall with a cringe the whole Elisha Cuthbert versus the cougar phase. Many of us also remember the season that just sort of meandered around while Jack flew into Mexico and dealt with drug dealers and somehow the drug dealers had something to do with a virus or something. It seemed to take forever to get going. However, even that season, once the virus got released in a hotel full of people things started moving. It made me realize that the whole season should have started with the virus being released in the hotel instead of the whole drug dealer thing.
Anyway, last season “24” reached some kind of state of action-packed perfection that many shows just dream about. Last season started off with some kind of two-hour premier that was, without a doubt, the two most-tension filled hours of television I had ever watched. Sure, it stretched the plot a bit even last season, but it was consistently watchable. Part of what made it so compelling were the strong performances of the President and First Lady. That means when the plots was focused off of Jack and onto them the story was still compelling.
Of course this season had a lot to live up to. For those of you who are fans of the show and perhaps have yet to watch the four hours of the “24” premier this year that the show has not disappointed. It may have taken until the second two hours of the four-hour, two-day premier to really make me sit on the edge of my seat and audibly gasp in surprise but it definitely did not disappoint.
Now comes the hard part. In this day and age when people have TiVo which has created an entire culture and class of people who immediately shout things at you like, “don’t tell me about it! I have it TiVoed and I haven’t watched it yet!” how do you actually talk about a show that relies almost solely on surprises for maximum effect? I also know of people who let the entire “24” season go by so they can then either buy the subsequent season DVD release or put it into their NetFlix queue. This really makes talking about it hard.
Needless to say if you have seen any of the commercials you know that super hero and super agent Jack Bauer, played by Keifer Sutherland, is back from his escapade in China. At the end of last season Jack was captured by the Chinese and taken away on a boat for events that had actually happened the season before. This season plays it smartly by starting the action two years later.
David Palmer’s brother, Wayne, is now President. The United States is, once again, in trouble. Terrorists have been committing acts of terrorism and suicide bombings in cities across the country. Buses are exploding. Bombers are walkig into crowded restaurants and shopping malls and pressing buttons that take dozens of people with them. The terrorist responsible has one demand and he says he will point him to the man organizing all of this. He wants Jack Bauer’s head on a platter.
So, this is how Jack comes back from China. The man who comes back, however, is a slightly different Jack Bauer than we are used to. In every other season no matter what happened to the man (even dying) he was always a man who knew exactly what to do. He was also willing and capable of doing anything to get information. This is a man who once uttered, ” I need a hacksaw” when it came to getting information from an informant.
Well, two years in prison has actually tamed Jack Bauer. He is a man with doubts. He is a man who is now almost incapable of torturing another person, probably due to the torture has had to endure. We see Jack is a man criss-crossed with scar across his back and a right hand badly burned and scarred from tortures we have yet to see. He is a man who is furtive, unsure, and all too human.
Of course the threat is also all-too real this time around. I do not want to give any of it away. You should discover what the terrorists have planned all on your own. The scary part is that this is a threat that many countries on the planet might have to face. In fact, even before the bigger plot is revealed the idea of terrorists committing smaller acts of terrorism in multiple places is all-too real.
Just remember that there are certain rules every season of “24” must follow. There is always a traitor in the midst. Many times this traitor is right in the President’s cabinet (or even the President himself, last season). Multiple times someone with vital information will end up shot and dying before the information can be gleaned. Everything is within twenty minutes driving time despite the fact the entire show is set in Los Angeles. Every time someone goes with Jack on a mission and that person is not a main character that person will die. Also, whatever the terrorist plot seems like it will be at the beginning it will end up being something much larger and more convoluted than initially presented.
Keep those things in mind. The season opener has delivered the thrills. During the second two-hours I found myself shouting at the television and putting my hands on the top of my head and gasping audibly and comically. I was also, surprisingly, touched by Jack and his new attitudes.
In the past the peripheral characters were always just a little bit more interesting than Jack. That is still the case. Lord help the writers if anything ever happen to Mary Lyn Rajskubs’ Chloe. However, Jack himself was always rather one dimensional. Yeah, sure, you liked him and wanted him to win but he didn’t quite tug at the heart strings. There was once a rumor his character might get killed off and I actually thought that might not be a bad idea. This season, I am very glad he is still around.
So, I am once again hooked ’til the end. I am looking forward the next installment and I will be on the edge of my seat all season long. This is a great show and it is just way too much fun. Yes, it’s about terrorism, but it is still a blast and you know Jack will eventually just kick some serious terrorist butt.