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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Welcome back, Jack (... and Bill, Tony and Chloe)

A few minutes after the two-night, four-hour season premiere of "24" wrapped up last night on Fox, I called my sister to get her take.

She summed it up pretty easily: "Freakin' sweet."

Well put, sibling!

There was plenty to like about the first four hours. It was a lot to digest, but here are some quick thoughts and observations:

(WARNING: There is discussion of major plot points from the first four hours below. So if you haven't gotten around to watching the premiere on your DVR and you don't want stuff spoiled, steer clear.)

- Jack gets information out of his former colleague by threatening him with ... a Bic pen. Now, THAT is respect.

- "This is the FBI! We follow the law! You'll do things OUR way, Bauer!" ... Well, that was fun while it lasted for all of 20 minutes.

- My spider sense began tingling that Tony wasn't the big bad guy the previews made him out to be when he didn't actually make the planes collide at JFK on Sunday night. If the past six seasons of "24" have taught us anything, it's this: Real villains don't pass up a chance to trigger massive, chaos-creating explosions. Bad guys want to see stuff go boom.

- Speaking of Tony, I'm a lot closer to accepting that he didn't actually die after the extended explanation from him and Buchanan on Monday night. Much better than the FBI's "You only THOUGHT he was dead" line to Jack in the first hour Sunday night.

- After six seasons in Los Angeles, it's a nice change to be in the nation's capital. The point had come where even the most die-hard "24" fan had to ask: "How many times will uber-villains unsuccessfully target So Cal before trying to take their business elsewhere?" I love the pick of Washington for this season - the monuments make for stunning backdrops in otherwise-pedestrian scenes. Just wait until we have a real car chase.

- Anybody else a little creeped out by the "greater good over all else" vibe coming from the Buchanan/Chloe/Tony/Jack team? Leaving Jack high and dry in the hideout of a bunch of thugs 20 minutes after he agreed to work with you? Fine, as long as it strengthens Tony's position in the villains' camp. Kidnap former Prime Minister Matobo and lead him to an almost-certain execution? Hey, if it gets us closer to Col. Dubaku and Gen. Juma, so be it. ... Jeez, love the loyalty, guys. Maybe that outlook on life is why Buchanan looks like he's aged about 20 years since last season.

- Madam President is no David Palmer, but then again she's a hell of a lot better than Wayne Palmer. The jury is still out on the rest of the White House staff, but I'm intrigued by the president's husband. Conspiracy theorist or not, he seems a lot more grounded in reality than some of the first ladies we've dealt with.

- Four hours in, and Jack has killed one bad guy. The folks over at have to be getting a little fidgety. If I was a henchman for the villains, I'd start asking for a lunch break in the next couple hours because it's a good bet Jack is going to start making up for lost time real soon here.

"24" is back with its normal spot in the Fox schedule next week, 9 p.m. Monday. If you missed any of the four-hour premiere or just need to see it again, Fox has full episodes available online.

- Tom Valentino


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