Now in its eighth and reportedly final season, 24
shows no signs of gently easing into retirement judging by Day 8's first two hours. The breakneck pace, tense action, Chloe scowl and Bauer growl are all present, along with a welcome contemporary feel added by the job-fearing workforce within the confines of the plush new CTU building. It's all so intricately structured and skilfully assembled that you're hooked before a certain terrorist-basher can yell, "Damn it!"
The central assassination plot concerning President
Omar of the fictional Republic of Kamistan hardly took the show in a brave new direction and strongly echoed Day 1's storyline. Yet the credible performances and quick editing barely gave us time to breathe in this air of familiarity. Besides, too much fun was to be had elsewhere following Jack Bauer playing the responsible babysitting grandfather. Somehow he resisted waterboarding the little sprog to find out why she is so obsessed with bears.
The events at the end of Day 7, where Jack was facing death and refusing pioneering stem cell surgery, were addressed with amazing efficiency. A throwaway comment about him recovering from treatment was all we were given, and quite rightly, too - otherwise the compelling current adventure would be bogged down with too much backstory. Nor was it long before he returned to action, despite his family loyalties, and back into conflict with the CTU penpushers like the good old days.
The brief interrogation of his old informant provided another classic Bauer moment, where his voice flitted between its two settings - the whisper and the hairdryer. While he was screaming, 'Who is the hitter?' it's a shame that President
Omar didn't pop up and offer the poor guy a 50/50 or Phone A Friend option.
CTU's new staff all fitted in well and had clearly defined characters that will undoubtedly unravel over the season. Battlestar Galactica
's Starbuck - Katee Sackhoff - delivered a confident turn as Dana Walsh, a data analyst who inadvertently makes Chloe O'Brian feel like an old relic. 'Bubba' from Forrest Gump
, aka actor Mykelti Williamson, ramped up the internal intrigue as self-serving boss Hastings. As for Freddie Prinze Jr's Agent Cole Ortiz – what a revelation! Looking remarkably older than when we last saw him in various annoying teen movies, he has so far proved a perfect fit for the proactive and pragmatic figure.
So far, so good for the slickly directed Day 8, then. Delivering plenty of political manoeuvring, cat and mouse gunfights, explosions and bureaucratic character clashes, the double bill season premiere has set the scene very well indeed. It also contained two consecutive episodes in which Kim Bauer didn't stumble into some lame kidnapping subplot or cougar ambush. Fair play.> What do you think of Day 8 so far? Share your views