24 Season Six

24 Season Six
Following its most intensely ruthless season, 24 added more torture, higher body counts and bigger ’splosions for a deeply entertaining, if predictable, story arc. Kiefer Sutherland remains superb as Jack Bauer, the new breed of "Dirty Harry” for a world gone wrong, whose inner torment is at its most demonic on "day six.” After 20 months of physical abuse and emotional anguish in a Chinese prison camp, a scarred and bearded Bauer is brought home by new U.S. President Wayne Palmer, who bows to demands by Islamic terrorist Abu Fayed to gain intel that can stop a recent barrage of attacks on American soil. Seeking revenge for his brother’s murder, Fayed intends to torture Bauer to death and frame former mentor Hamri Al-Assad (who has since renounced terrorism) for the rash of attacks he’s orchestrated. In a gory scene, Bauer escapes his captors and a whole season of plot twists and turns is unleashed. When a detonated nuclear bomb kills 12,000 people in L.A., Bauer discovers his industrialist father Phillip (played menacingly by the always shrewd James Cromwell) and brother are in bed with the terrorists under the guise of "patriotism.” Both CTU in Los Angeles and the White House serve their usual roles as soap opera settings but the backstabbing and procedural manoeuvring are more Machiavellian. After isolating the terrorists and their remaining nuclear weapons, Bauer receives a call that sets the season’s second act in motion. Told that his old love Audrey was killed while searching for him in China, Bauer receives word that the Chinese are actually holding her hostage in return for a key component that arms nuclear bombs. The component eventually falls into the hands of Bauer’s father, which sets up the foreseeable familial showdown, though we never quite learn what becomes of Phillip. As compelling as day six is, it’s likely the most telegraphed season of 24 yet. Perhaps fans have become too accustomed to the show’s pacing and style, but even with all the horrible acts, moral depravity, implied racism and dead characters the show’s shock value has been dulled. In an interesting "Writer’s Room” featurette, even the men writing the show express some concern as to where they might be able to go next to keep the show fresh and innovative ("CTU Washington, DC” seems to be the best they’ve come up with thus far). On the other hand, in providing a commentary track and watching his first episode of 24 ever, Sutherland gushes about how challenging and exciting day six was for him as an actor and expresses his appreciation for the show’s producers and writers. Besides a hilarious deleted scene featuring a bizarre cameo by Ricky Gervais, Sutherland’s steely presence behind the scenes — including self-criticism and a hint of his own political bias — gives season six true charisma. Plus: Season seven preview, extended/deleted scenes, more. (Fox)