The hourglass is reloaded, the jaws firmly set.
It’s time for Fox’s “real time” “24” to bring viewers another horrific day in the life of counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer.
First, though, here are a few words from the star of the show.
“Hello, my name is Kiefer Sutherland,” he tells TV critics on Fox’s preview tape.
“And I’d like to thank you for taking the time to view the second season premiere of ’24’. We are all proud to be involved in this series and we are grateful for the honors and recognition it has received. We are very excited about this second season, so we wanted to provide you with the first two episodes. There are, of course, some unexpected plot twists in these hours. And as you know, the series is built on suspense. So we ask that you protect the secrets and surprises of both episodes. And again, we would like to thank you very, very much for your support. And we look forward to another thrilling season of `24.’ Thank you.”
Sutherland, as has already been established, plays the incredibly resilient and dogged Jack Bauer.
At the end of last season, he lost his wife, Teri (Leslie Hope), at the hands of mole Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke), who otherwise had no visible moles.
Jack did, however, manage to save the life of presidential candidate David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), who had been marked for assassination by ruthless Serbians headed by Dennis Hopper and his laughable Boris Badenov accent.
It’s now a year later, and Jack is bearded, bummed and disheveled.
His daughter, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert), likewise bummed but not bearded or disheveled, has distanced herself from Dad by working as a live-in nanny for a young L.A. couple.
Meanwhile, Palmer has become president.
OK, no one has busted down the door yet and shouted, “Spread ’em!” So we’re going to proceed at extreme risk.
“24’s” inaugural season began at the midnight hour and ran two full laps around the clock.
Season 2 starts at 8 a.m. Los Angeles time, but in Seoul, Korea.
A terrorist is being gruesomely tortured until he finally confesses that a nuclear device is set to explode in L.A. within 24 hours’ time.
President Palmer is alerted while on a fishing trip in Oregon with his son.
Boy, it’s always something.
The president soon is on the phone with the prime minister of an unnamed Middle East country that the United States suspects of harboring the “Second Wave” terrorist sect.
“If a bomb goes off today, it will hurt us. But it will destroy you,” Palmer tells him.
If so, the prime minister retorts, the United States will have made enemies of one billion Muslims throughout the world.
This, of course, sounds like a job for Jack Bauer, who’s been inactive ever since his wife was murdered and his daughter severely traumatized.
A personal call from President Palmer helps to soften him up.
But he steadfastly resists until seeing an innocent mother and child walking the now hugely imperiled streets of L.A.
Estimated casualties: 2.5 million.
But we’ve come too far now, so here are some closing observations and first impressions of “24’s” 8 to 10 a.m. restart.
The presumably incarcerated Nina Myers was slated to return this season.
But she’s not in the first two episodes and isn’t named as a regular cast member in Fox press materials.
President Palmer’s estranged, duplicitous wife, Sherry (Penny Johnson), is listed as a regular but likewise is a no-show in the early going.
Poor Kim soon is running for her life again, pursued by a nut case.
Frankly it’s kind of laughable this time around.
No kid could be this unlucky twice.
In these precarious times, an entire season’s storyline devoted to a planned nuclear attack on Los Angeles is not exactly what the doctor ordered.
“24” also risks reinforcing stereotypical views of Muslims as a collective group of terrorists and nothing more.
Look for a new and very recognizable face.
It’s former “Roseanne” kid Sara Gilbert playing a new Counter-Terrorist Unit computer whiz named Paula.
CTU holdovers George Mason (Xander Berkeley) and Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) are still in place.
Tuesday’s opening hour does have one legitimate jolt that probably no one will see coming.
Be assured that it’s not a moment of levity.
The new “24” is as unrelentingly grim-faced as last year’s edition.
So far, though, it’s just not as much fun to watch.
Sutherland co-starred in all of these ultra-forgettable feature films during the three years leading to his wise decision to give TV and “24” a whirl.
Vengeance is his.
Ed bark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2002, The Dallas Morning News.
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