Gravitas! 24 Day 6, 6:00 am-8:00 am

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Written by Adam A. Donaldson

Tonight, the Jack Bauer Power Hour makes its mighty return for another action-filled day for our much put-upon hero. This is the third year in a row that FOX has done the two-night, four-hour premiere before running the season in consecutive weeks and it’s a formula that works splendidly for 24. Despite what the naysayers and haters think, in my opinion last season was 24’s strongest yet and the Emmy committee seemed to agree with me (for once), by rewarding the show with Best Drama and Best Actor trophies.

For the uninitiated, 24 premiered in the Fall of 2001 and was built on the premise of telling a day long story in real time; 24 episodes, each representing one hour in the day. The first season dealt with Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agent Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) trying to stop the intended assassination of Presidential candidate David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) while trying to solve the kidnapping of his wife Teri (Leslie Hope) and daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert).

As the seasons progressed, the days Bauer lived through got progressively worse. At the end of season four, he had to fake his death and go into hiding after he accidentally killed a Chinese diplomat in a raid on their consulate to find a terror suspect. At the beginning of season 5 though, Jack was forced out of hiding when now former-President Palmer was assassinated and Jack was implicated as his killer. By the end of Day 5, Jack was able to save the day once again; unravelling a conspiracy that involved President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin) and Jack’s CTU mentor Christopher Henderson (Peter Weller). But this being 24, Jack didn’t get a happily ever after, but was instead captured by the Chinese and put on a slow boat to China.

So now we enter Day 6 some 20 months later. This is what I think happens, at least what I’ve been able to put together from conjecture and spoilers. Jack remains in the custody of the Chinese as they’ve beaten and tortured him; in fact, rumour has it that Jack doesn’t even appear in the first hour. Meanwhile back in the US, the new President Palmer, David’s brother Wayne (DB Woodside), is dealing with multiple terrorist attacks barely two weeks into his first term. Certain Palmer aids are suggesting that Muslims living in America be rounded up in the name of National Security, but Palmer has a lot of problems with that idea.

The one thing that the government knows about the terrorists is that they want Jack Bauer, so a deal is struck with the Chinese to get Bauer back stateside so that he can draw the bad guys out. So it seems that this season will see Jack having to work hard to save himself and this seems confirmed by the advertising and a comment made by the Man himself. "We've had five years of Jack Bauer saving a large thing; this one's much more about him saving his own ass,” Sutherland told the New York Post. “He'll go from being the one who hunts people down to the one who's being hunted, so that in itself turns the show around."

The cast for this season is perhaps the hugest yet. Along with Jack and Palmer look for the return of season five survivors like the much beloved CTU tech Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), CTU boss Bill Buchanan (James Morrison), field agent Curtis Manning (known to 24 fans as “Black Jack” because of his status as both an African-American and Jack’s frequent sideman, he’s played by Roger Cross) and former Homeland Security boss turned presidential advisor Karen Hayes (Jayne Atkinson). Also expected to make a reappearance somewhere around episode nine or ten is the disgraced Charles Logan and his wife Martha (Jean Smart). And returning for the first time since the first season is Eric Balfour as Milo Pressman.

New characters this season will include the never before seen Palmer sister Sandra (Regina King), a civil rights attorney representing the Islamic American Alliance; Thomas Lennox (Peter MacNicol), Palmer’s Chief of Staff and resident hawk; and James Cromwell as Phillip Bauer, Jack’s Dad. Alexander Siddig (Syriana and Star Trek: DS9) plays the chief terrorist Hamri al-Assad and Kal Penn (AKA: Kumar from Harold & Kumar) is a Muslim America out for vengeance when his father is taken away by the FBI.

Of course, like every season of 24, look for prominent Canadians to partake in the adventure. This Hour Has 22 Minutes funnyman Shaun Majumder turns dramatic by playing a bad ass and Little Mosque on the Prairie patriarch Carlos Rota will reprise his role as Morris O’Brian, Chloe’s estranged husband, a part he played in the waning hours of Day 5. They join fellow Canadians Sutherland and Cross and past series stars like Hope, Cuthbert, Alberta Watson, Wendy Crewson Justin Lewis and Jeff Wincott.

Remember: this is two-night event, so comeback tomorrow for dissection of tonight’s events and speculation on what comes next. Log your comments below.

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