Saturday, January 30, 2010

‘24’ Season 7: No shortage of merciless villains for Jack Bauer

(Published January 31, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


After a season of dreadfully predictable and rehashed storylines, action series “24” re-ignites with a renewed sense of immediacy in its seventh season. Kiefer Sutherland portrays iconic Jack Bauer once again, the no-nonsense agent who’s gotten really good at averting terrorist-caused catastrophes.

Season seven immediately starts with interesting revelations. CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) has been disbanded, so Jack learns of an impending attack from the FBI. Bauer’s former co-worker and friend Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard), long thought deceased, is alive and kicking, and may be masterminding a new terror attack. But Almeida is undercover and covertly working with former CTU do-gooders Chloe O’Brien (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Bill Buchanan (James Morrison).

Just as intriguing is the concurrent arc involving new US President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones). Initially unaware of a plot to destabilize her government from within, President Taylor is about to send troops to a chaotic African country. Calculated and vicious attacks soon threaten her, her family and countless Americans on that fateful day.

The cast of “24” is partly revitalized due to the addition of President Taylor, as well as FBI tech geek Janis Gold (Janeane Garofalo), and determined FBI agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching). The new dynamics, especially the new characters’ interactions and uneasy alliances with Bauer, revive and spice up tension, reminding us that despite his continued defiance of rules, he relies heavily on the assistance of a few trustworthy allies.

The season doesn’t have a shortage of contemptible villains. Bauer regularly encounters merciless adversaries, from disposable henchmen to disguised assassins. But some of his most dangerous foes this time include General Juma (Tony Todd), whose forces took the President hostage inside the White House, and Jonas Hodges (Jon Voight), who commands a well-armed and imposing private army.

“24” is mostly well-paced, although there are a few cliffhangers that hardly pique interest for succeeding episodes, and scenarios that ultimately translate as unnecessary padding. Still, much has improved, and longtime fans will especially appreciate the return of familiar faces and continuity ties to previous seasons. While Jack Bauer may not change much, the character is clearly defined as a fallible, hardened hero, racing against time and doing whatever it takes to take down the most reprehensible miscreants of the day.

Season seven of “24” previously aired on C/S 9. Season eight airs Tuesdays, 8 p.m., on RPN-Solar TV.

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