I am a huge 24 fan and have been since the very beginning of the series. We’ve gone through some good times and some bad times together, as well as some embarrassing times. From presidential assassinations, bio-threats, and nuclear bombs blowing up in Valencia; to the infamous cougar lurking in the woods, Teri Bauer’s amnesia, and basically anything involving Kim Bauer. 24 is by no means a perfect show, but what it usually delivers on is action packed seasons and cliffhangers at the end of each episode. Season 8, which starts with a 4-hour premiere tomorrow night, has a lot to live up to after last year’s non-stop insanely good season. Some critics would disagree, but I thought season 7 was pure 24 gold. Although the premiere isn’t as intense as I had hoped, some great new elements have been introduced. And let’s just say Renee Walker returns with a vengeance! More after the jump.
Last year 24 revamped itself by moving from LA to DC and bringing back Tony Almeida from the dead. Sounds like a cheap plot device, but it actually panned out and Tony’s flipping back and forth from good to bad, kept me guessing the whole way. Not to mention the season had more bad guys then Jack Bauer could shake his government issued handgun at. Tony Todd took over the White House with an African militia, how awesome was that? So this season has a hell of a lot to live up to, season 7 raised the bar in twists and action, and they even poisoned Jack for the last third. Which was actually the only thing I didn’t like about last season, Jack Bauer is only kick ass when you let him kick ass, not when he’s sick and having shaking fits. So what hints can I give you about Season 8? Here goes.
In season 8 we are relocated to New York City where Jack has been living with his daughter and granddaughter. He has retired from CTU and the government in general and is worn out. Jack needs a break.
President Taylor is still in office and in peace talks with the president of a fictional Middle Eastern Country, Omar Hassan (played by Anil Kapoor aka the game show host from Slumdog Millionaire, just some little obscure indie film). CTU is up and running with a New York division and it’s super high-tech, to the point where Chloe (the only original member left) is falling behind and put in the underdog position. There’s a new head of CTU Mr. Hastings (Mykelti Williamson of Boomtown) whose posture makes him look like he’s always ducking under a low ceiling, which drove me nuts and undercuts his authority. Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) plays Dana Walsh, a new CTU analyst and clearly a really great actor burdened with a terrible subplot of a different identity and a nagging ex-boyfriend threatening to expose her (this is an example of bad 24 plotlines). My biggest gripe is casting Freddie Prinze Jr., we fans have been very forgiving and tolerant, we went along and actually enjoyed Rick Schroder, we were totally cool with Lou Diamond Phillips, we even forgave how many times you brought Kim Raver back, but Freddie Prinze Jr.? I can’t deal with him being the new heroic CTU guy, but maybe given time my opinion will change (Stranger things have happened, I was impressed by Brian Austin Green’s turn on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles).
Enough about the characters, what about the plot? I don’t want to give too much away, because half the fun of 24 is the “WTF” moments you don’t see coming. What I will tell you is that someone, maybe of Russian decent and maybe a whole gang of them, are involved in a plot to take out President Hassan and foil the peace talks between the U.S. and the Middle East. Already some inside people are brought to light and key players are exposed. And of course Jack gets tied up in all this, when an ex-informant shows up at his door with a bullet in his shoulder. Jack just can’t say no to saving America, no matter how many times he wants to and in this premiere it’s a lot. In fact, it takes a bit to get revved up. Jack is very reluctant to get back into action and it almost feels like the creators are too. As if they went all out last season and aren’t entirely sure where to take this year yet, or they could just be for once playing things slow, which in the land of 24 can prove deadly.
Don’t get me wrong; there is a good amount of action in these 4 episodes, but nothing above average or that we haven’t seen before. The plot so far feels a bit recycled and meandering, with some great classic 24 moments, for instance an RPG and a helicopter say hello to each other. The most promising aspect and the real treat is having Renee Walker back this season and she’s been through some shit since we last saw her. Turns out she was running undercover with the Russian mob and let’s just say she may be even more Jack Bauer than Jack Bauer is this season, which if the creators keep pushing the limit and turning the tables on Jack, I’m all for it. Let Jack play second fiddle to Renee, I think she can show him a thing or two and it will add a moral dilemma to the show when Jack is faced with someone as law-bending as he’s been.
For now, I just have to trust in a franchise that has only led me astray for brief moments, but always managed to get back on track. I stand by 24 as an adrenaline rush that’s highly addictive with Jack Bauer being the greatest American hero since GIJOE and Rambo and dare I say it? Chuck Norris. I’ve enjoyed every season so far, some way more than others, just please don’t fail me now!
Don’t miss the 2-night 4-hour premiere beginning Sunday, January 17th at 9/8c!