Well, it's good to have Jack back, even in this form.
I haven't had too much of a problem filling my TV time, with The Shield having one of the best season-long runs I can remember and Sons Of Anarchy having a good showing in its first season. But both of those shows will be disappearing after this week (with Sons to return sometime next year), and so it's time for the second-half of the "fall" season to start. That means welcome returns for both 24 and Lost.
While Lost also managed to turn in a great season last year, 24 has definitely been headed the other direction. After a great fifth season, season six turned into kind of a lackluster disaster, and the off-season hints of things to come (Jeanene Garofalo? urk..) left me dreading the return of a neutered Jack Bauer.
So it was with some trepidation that I approached this two-hour 24 movie, subtitled (although not on-screen) "Redemption". First off, I thought the producers chose a good backdrop, a fictional example of one of the all-too-real African genocides currently going on. Rather than drag out another nebulous terrorist group, we get an alternate scenario that provides real danger for Bauer, and a way for him to try to find some personal redemption, and shines a spotlight on an under-reported real problem that exists in the world today. Much better than, say, Jack helping a group of eco-warriors fight an evil, global-warming corporation or something.
And the fact that we get to see some very well-deserved shots taken on the feckless United Nations and the U.S. State Department is just icing on the cake. "Go hide in the shelter with the other children" - and then he does! Just outstanding.
But just so we know it's still 24, there is a tieback to a nameless "old white guy" (played this time around by Jon Voight) and to moles in the five-minute old administration of whatever the new president's name is. Those are just setups for the next season, though, and they didn't distract too much from the main plot back in Africa.
For a "two-hour event", we didn't get a big set piece on the order of the fighter strafing-run from....back in season two, I think? But we did get a lot of standard 24 beats - Jack as pistol sharpshooter, Jack being tortured (that just makes him angry), Jack killing a man with his bare hands, err, feet, a confederate taking the kill so Jack can continue, and so on. Nothing out of the ordinary for 24, but just seeing it back in action and done well after the disaster of the last season makes me happy.
At least until the new season starts.