Another long day begins -- the season premiere of '24'

kiefersutherland_fox_290.jpgSweetheart, listen to me. Go to the northwest corridor and upload the schematic and patch me through to Chloe. I'm 10 seconds out of beginning this column.

The eighth longest day of Jack Bauer's life begins Sunday at 9 p.m. on FOX. It's a four hour premiere of "24" so that means two hours Sunday night and two hours Monday night. The season is off to a fairly solid start. The big problem that "24" faces is that, by this point, we are very experienced viewers. We know the beats and the rhythms of "24." We know not to expect realism or for anyone to need to go to the bathroom or have a drink of water. But it's also getting harder and harder for the show to surprise us. For example, from the moment the show started, I was looking for the traitor. Let's just say he/she wasn't that hard to spot even if the show did desperately try to trick me.

As with every season, there is a new setting - New York and brand new snazzy CTU -- and a slew of new faces joining the "24" world. Freddie Prinze Jr. comes aboard as earnest CTU agent Cole Ortiz. Prinze is one of those actors I really like although I remain unconvinced he can actually act. Katee Sackhoff ("Battlestar Galactica") is the new tech whiz with the obligatory mysterious backstory. Mykelti Williamson is Brian Hastings, the new head of CTU. In the first four hours, Hastings doesn't have much to do more than take on the thankless role of the PERSON WHO DOESN'T BELIEVE JACK. Anil Kapoor ("Slumdog Millionaire") is a welcome addition as Omar Hassan, a leader of a Middle Eastern country trying to broker peace.

In addition to the new characters, characters we know have gone through quite a metamorphosis since we last saw them. The biggest change is Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) who starts out the season world weary but somewhat at peace. The cliche everytime he thinks he's out, they pull him back in immediately comes to mind. It's the first time since maybe season one that we really understand what is important to Jack and what he's fighting for. (Plus we get a fun cameo from Paul Wesley ("Vampire Diaries") who reprises his role as Kim's husband). Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is suddenly not the know-it-all she used to be. She's struggling with the new CTU technology and struggling even more with her co-workers. She's still as funny as ever, but it's a great character twist to have her be the underdog. And I couldn't be more thrilled that Cherry Jones gets to be the President for one more season. By Monday night another familiar face returns (I won't spoil it just in case you don't know) and it's a character who has undergone a shocking transformation. It's been awhile since I've been that surprised by "24."

What I've realized about "24" is how instantly forgettable the plots are. I tend to remember the big moments and the characters (Bill Buchanan, Ryan Chappelle, Nina Myers, Sherry Palmer, Tony Almeida, Martha Logan, Michelle Dressler, Edgar Stiles, Dina Araz) more than the overall plot of how a season fit together. So while I think the plot of "24" is obviously important, it's really the characters that keep us coming back each week. I think this season might have the right mix of old and new faces to get us hooked. I[m putting the premiere somewhere between three and a half and four out of five stars. Oh if you want to remember where "24" left off last season, FOX repeats the seventh season finale Sunday at 7 p.m.

Before "24" premieres, you can catch a sneak preview of the new FOX series "Human Target" (Sunday at 8 p.m.). The series moves to its regular time slot next Wednesday at 9 p.m. Mark Valley stars as Christopher Chance, a private bodyguard, who puts himself in serious danger to protect his clients. Chi McBride co-stars as Chance's business partner Winston and Jackie Earle Haley is Guerrero, a man who is able to get Chance the information he needs by whatever means necessary. Valley, who has starred in "Boston Legal," "Keen Eddie," and "Fringe," has a lot in common with Nate Fillion. Valley is quite charming and, as Chance, hits that exact right tone. He's charming without being too glib or cocky. Actually I like the whole cas. The problem is the first two episodes are kind of boring - I just couldn't get that excited about either client Chance has taken on and it was far, far too easy to figure out the big plot twist. Maybe like "Castle," "Human Target" will begin to blossom and live up to the potential its cast offers but for now three out of five stars.

After you watch "24" and "Human Target," let me know what you think.

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Oh how traumatic was this. Mackenzie Rosman, little Ruthie on "7th Heaven," was Zoe, the high school student who slept with Ricky on "The Secret Life of the American Teenager."

Cynthia Stevenson was the nervous heart patient driving Cristina crazy on "Grey's Anatomy." Among her many roles, she was Celia on "Men in Trees," Joy in "Dead Like Me," and Hope in "Hope & Gloria." We'll soon see Stevenson as Shiri Appleby's mom on the new CW series "Life Unexpected."

Molly Price was the mother who couldn't throw anything away on "Private Practice." Price was Faith on "Third Watch" and I always remember her for playing Susan Sharon on "Sex and the City."

Sasha Alexander was House and Wilson's new neighbor on "House." She was Caitlin on "NCIS" and Pacey's sister Gretchen on "Dawson's Creek."

Dreama Walker is Becca, Zack's girlfriend on "The Good Wife." Walker was Hazel, one of Blair's minions, on "Gossip Girl." She also played Henry's new girlfriend last season on "Ugly Betty." Daniel Cosgrove was the cop investigating the death of the football player. Cosgrove was Matt on "90210" and Freddy on "Dirty Sexy Money." Patricia Kalember was the mom of the boy who died on "The Good Wife." She was Georgie on "Sisters." Russell Hornsby was the doctor accused of over prescribing oxycotin. Hornsby is Eddie on "Lincoln Heights."

Karen and Kim were so excited to see Dean Haglund as Blaine on "Bones." Haglund was Langly, one of "The Lone Gunmen" on "The X-Files" and its spin-off. More fun times - the title of the episode was "The X in the File." Kim also recognized Dale Dickey, Patty on "My Name is Earl," as the landowner. Kai Lennox, Detective Eddie Alvarez on "The Unusuals," was Marvin Breekman and Penny Johnson Jerald, Sherry Palmer on "24" and Dean Etwood on "October Road," was Rachel, the executive of the company dumping waste. We also just saw Palmer as Joanne Torrence on "NCIS."

Diane and Ryan recognized Joe Lando as Lieutenant Commander Rob Clarke on "NCIS." Lando is best known as Sully on "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" and he also played Pete on "Wildfire."

Quotes of the Week

"Did Cameron get your hair in the divorce?" House to Chase about his new haircut on "House."

"No, I'm not Paula." Kara to a contestant who thinks she's Paula Abdul on "American Idol."

"Breasts are like these scary, mystical things he's drawn to, like Frodo to Mordor." Phil to Claire about Luke's looking at a pornographic picture on "Modern Family." Thanks to Barry for the quote.

Ask TV Gal

I was pleased to hear that Make it or Break it got renewed. But how many more episodes will there be? Bernd

There will be 10 episodes in total this run. Since we've already had two episodes air, we have eight more to go.

Do you know the story behind tonight's Fringe ep? David

I'm confused by tonight's Fringe. I could have sworn that Charlie, Olivia Dunham's old partner, was dead. However on tonight's episode he was alive. Did I miss something? Thanks. Mark

This episode of "Fringe" that aired Monday night confused so many people - especially because Charlie was alive and well. It was a "lost" episode from the first season that FOX had never aired. With "Lie to Me" already on hiatus and "24" not back until next Monday, FOX had an empty space Monday night and decided to plug in an episode of "Fringe." But I don't think they did a good enough job explaining to viewers what was going on. Come to think of it, I didn't do a good enough job explaining to you all what was going on. Sorry about that.

That's all for today. I'm back on Monday to talk about the new CW series "Life Unexpected" and the new ABC series "The Deep End." We'll also chat about the return of "White Collar" and the second season premiere of "Being Erica." Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week or a topic for discussion? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com or follow me on Twitter. Have a great weekend. Talk to you on Monday.

 

Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal

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