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"I don't know how to do this anymore."
With these eight words, "24" -- that gorgeous, messy, fist-pumping carnival of post-9/11 anxiety -- gives us its most terrifying scenario yet: Jack Bauer, broken man.
Sure, this is a show where a nuke has gone off on the outskirts of LA, where one president was assassinated and another turned traitor, where deadly viral agents have penetrated malls and hotels, where Elisha Cuthbert's acting ability entered a life-or-death struggle with a cougar (a cougar, people!). But through it all, we knew Jack Bauer would be there to either save the day or avenge the fallen, most likely while putting unnecessary strain on his vocal cords.
As season six begins, that Jack's gone. He's liberated from nearly two years of torture in a Chinese prison -- karmic justice for a guy who never saw a leg he couldn't shoot or stab? -- an unkempt ghost of his former self.
Even after the POW hair and beard get clippered away and Jack starts capping bad guys, he's entirely on auto-pilot. Give him a minute to breathe or think -- of which there are surprisingly many early on -- and he starts to doubt himself. By the end of the now traditional two-night, four-hour season launch, he's reduced to sobbing longer, louder and harder than he did back when his wife was murdered in season one.
Friday, January 12, 2007
"24" review in today's column: