24 day 6 kicked off this week on Sky. As before, with the need to outdo the previous season cliff-hanger, the writers had left themselves with a bit of a quandary – a realtime TV show, and the main character incarcerated in a Chinese prison.
In order to get around the problem, the first episode had the conclusion of a plan to bring Jack back from China in order to be used as a bargaining chip with a terrorist gang. He is brought off the plane, obviously having been abused in the prison, but not having broken. As with previous opening episodes, the sense of time goes out the window as Jack manages to shave and have a hair cut in minutes, ready to be handed over to the terrorists, and then despite further torture at the hands of the terrorist group has managed to escape by the end of episode one. In episode two he quickly gets transport, and a trusty mobile phone, and within a few minutes has disobeyed orders and we’re back into the usual 24 routine of Jack being somewhat of a loose canon whilst the authorities try to keep up.
Unlike the last time around we didn’t open with the shock tactics of a character cull, mainly as there are precious few major characters left in CTU, although many do reappear including a larger role for Wayne Palmer, now elected President, and the return of Milo who just disappeared from the programme back in the first season.
Alongside the regulars, there is a pretty wide number of recognisable faces that turn up in the first two episodes. Peter MacNicol, who some will remember from Ally McBeal has a role, as does Alexander Siddig who previously appeared in Deep Space Nine. We are also expecting an appearance from James Cromwell, cast as Jack’s father. Even if they don’t have time for a regular role, there is always the chance for a cameo, with Stephen Merchant putting in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in episode one. Apparently Ricky Gervais was considered too well known, and his cameo wasn’t used.
So after two episodes the show has definitely kicked off at a frantic pace. In terms of the threat, it again has been ramped up, with a series of co-ordinated attacks already in progress, and large numbers of casualties. Unfortunately, after the Russian separatists of day 5, they’ve dropped back to the old stereotypical and unoriginal fallback of an Islamic terrorist threat as seen in a number of previous series. Hopefully, the other aspects of day 6 won’t be quite as much of a repeat – we’ll wait and see.