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24: Season 8 - First two hours reviewed

24: Day 8

Story by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE first two hours of the eighth day of real-time TV thriller 24 attempted to mix the old with the new to strangely muted effect.

Another change of location (this time to New York) brought about a fresh set of faces at a high-tec CTU, while creating a fresh environment for Jack Bauer to avert disaster in. But the plot machinations had a very familiar ring to them, stretching back as far to the show’s very first series.

Thus far, we’re hooked without being gripped…

24 followers may recall that the very first hour of the show saw Jack Bauer at home with his wife and daughter until he was plucked unwillingly into trying to avert an assassination attempt on the life of US President David Palmer.

Day 8 began with Bauer at home, or rather babysitting his grand-daughter in New York, only to be unwillingly plucked into trying to avert an assassination attempt on the life of Iranian President Omar Hassan (Slumdog Millionaire‘s Anil Kapoor).

Unlike the explosive start to Day 7, Day 8 unfolded at a much slower pace (by the show’s breathless standards).

New characters had time to breathe rather than hit the ground running, while the new set-up took time to unfold. As ever, there’s no clue as to how the final events of the day will unfold, as the early assassination attempt is almost certain to be a bluff designed to give the season its early impetus.

Of those new characters, Mykelti Williamson’s CTU head Brian Hastings looks like a man who is clearly out of his depth, Freddie Prinze Jr.‘s Cole Ortiz hinted at Bauer-style sympathies, and Katee (Battlestar Galactica) Sackhoff’s CTU liaison Dana Walsh seems to have plenty of ghosts in her closet.

Kapoor’s Hassan, meanwhile, is an intriguing political ally whose support staff and affiliations all seem suspect at best, while Chris Diamantopoulos’ new White House staffer Rob Weiss is playing his loyalties close to his chest.

Of the returning cast members, Cherry Jones continues to command respect and sympathy as President Taylor and Bob Gunton continues to offer reliable support as her loyal second-in-command Ethan.

Mary Lynn Rajskub’s Chloe, however, hit some of the episode’s biggest duff notes by failing to keep up with CTU’s technological advances (unlikely) and constantly bemoaning her new bosses’ incompetence (tired).

Having put the key players in place, however, 24 has yet to really ignite the torch paper. Admittedly, there was an alleyway shootout and rooftop explosion involving Bauer that was typically well orchestrated… but the action was kept to a minimum as the intrigue continued to build.

Even the closing moments of the second hour, involving one of the season’s new terrorists violently threatening a former colleague by shooting his wife in the leg, seemed restrained by previous standards.

This could, of course, be a signal of the show’s intent for Day 8: emphasis on character rather than spectacle. Rumours abound that Jack could be entering his final day… and that big shocks lay in store. What better way to achieve them, then, than to really concentrate on the people involved?

Day 1 thrived from a similarly slow-build approach and a more intimate scenario than the more outlandish styles of Days 2, 6 and 7, so why not try a back to basics approach?

We could be wrong, of course, and Day 8 could burst into life at any given moment…

Kiefer Sutherland, meanwhile, continues to remain an enigmatic presence, his world-weary and retired agent Bauer clearly enjoying life away from CTU and prepared to turn his back on Chloe’s cry for help in order to follow his daughter and grandchild to Los Angeles.

It’s a strange and intriguing prospect to be faced with a not-so driven Jack… although we’re sure that his character will inevitably be put through the emotional wringer at some point in the season.

So, with all things considered, Day 8 got off to a solid if unspectacular start. There’s plenty to intrigue, even if we’re not yet exhilarated.

What did you think?

24: Day 8 is on Sky 1 on Sunday nights, from 9pm. This review relates to the Season premiere on Sunday, January 24, 2010.

  1. Agree.. 24 seems to be retreading old territory at present. Please Jack, you’re better than this!

    Simon    Feb 6    #