24 seven

It’s been two years since season six of 24, and a lot has changed.

It’s been two years since season six of 24, and a lot has changed.

Yes, everyone’s favorite terrorist torturing, gravely-voiced badass Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is back in his usual role as a one-man freedom-securing machine, but now he’s surrounded by a mostly new cast, a new location (Washington D.C., replacing Los Angeles) a new—and female—president (wishful thinking?) and, of course, new terrorist asses to kick.

These changes may anger diehard fans of surly ol’ Jack’s previous adventures, but they inject a bit more life and interest into a show that was beginning to overstay its welcome.

There are no nuclear bombs or sexy girls caught in bear traps here, just good old-fashioned, cat-and-mouse action.

We last saw Jack Bauer in Africa during 24: Redemption, the lackluster TV movie prequel to this season, as he was caught in the middle of a military coup. But as soon as you could say Rwanda, he was arrested and dragged back home.

In the first four episodes of season seven, Jack, echoing criticisms of the show, is under indictment by some damn liberal politicians for his favorite pastime—torture.

Before they can throw the book at him he is whisked away by the FBI (filling in for the now disbanded anti-terrorism agency CTU) to aid them in capturing domestic terrorists, naturally linked to the previously mentioned military coup, before they can crash planes, bring down the government’s computer infrastructure and whatever else it is that terrorists do.

Now, while there are significant, and much needed, changes to the show this year—mainly a more subdued and self-referential tone—the focus of 24, the never-ending struggles of Jack, thankfully remains untouched.

It doesn’t take long for the FBI, and Special Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching, joining the cast) to realize that nobody puts Jack in a corner. Cue scene where Jack holds something sharp in the face of a bad guy and screams, “TELL ME WHERE (insert weapon or character’s name) IS!”

The new characters Jack meets all seem a little scared of him, and rightfully so. This is the same man who once chopped a guy’s head off.

It’s amazing that the government would send this loose cannon on a mission while he is under charges of torture. What’s next? Locking Larry Craig in a bathroom stall full of glory holes?

While the main storyline, including (SPOILER ALERT) the surprise return of Jack’s former CTU colleague Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) stands strong, a few sub-plots feel tacked on.

Hopefully the show learns its lesson from previous seasons and doesn’t plod on with too many stories at once. Does anyone really care about the president’s husband and his mission to find out how his son died or the inner-office drama of quirky FBI agents?

Most of the new cast, with the exception of Cherry Jones as President Allison Taylor, who desperately wants to avoid genocide in Africa by taking action before it’s too late (take that Bill Clinton!) are given little to do. Janeane Garofalo’s main job as an FBI agent is to stand around and look uncomfortable. The show already has that character covered with Chloe.

With minor complaints aside, this really is the Jack show, and Sutherland does an exemplary job of adding human emotion to a show that could easily de-evolve into a preachy, shoot-and-run pageant.

Thanks to the writer’s strike and the hiatus it forced the show into, this season of 24 has already been completely planned and fine-tuned. If it keeps up the pace it shows in its first few hours, and there’s no reason to think it won’t, it should rebuild the franchise that was on its deathbed. If not, at least it will go down strong, taking at least as much torture as its protagonist is giving.