Following an impressive act is hard to do. 24's seventh season has been largely revered as one of the better entries into the 24 canon, and, while it introduced so many radical changes and new characters, the core formula was still there and the show delivered on almost every front. Featuring a breakneck pace and a story that never slowed, season seven had more than its share of memorable moments, shocking twists and lovable villains, and it quickly became one of my favorites. It's been eight months now since the satisfying and emotional conclusion of season seven, and, after a finale such as that one, the show could have gone in any direction. Ambiguous though understandably predictable, it effectively closed the curtains on a stellar season, leaving fans hungry for more. In some ways, the premiere of 24's eight day is very similar to season seven's. New characters and sets abound, making for a fresh opening that gives the show a whole different 'feel' to it. And, just like last season, the writers have to explain and introduce a lot in just two hours; on show and in real time. Therefore, the premiere is mostly exposition, and that's understandable. There's a new locale, new CTU, new members of staff - heck, Jack's even a grandfather now! Just as we enter a new decade, 24 itself experiences many dramatic changes. Admittedly, things are pretty predictable, and, for the most part, serve primarily to get the audience familiarized and oriented with the story and new characters that dot each frame. By 24's standards, this is not surprising. However, since the writers have so many new devices this time around, it's going to take some time before the story can really kick into gear and find that quick pace 24 is all too well known for. And it seems that even Jack Bauer himself is taking things slowly. At least for a little while. For the first time in, well, ever, we find him happy – relaxed, on the couch while he spends the afternoon with his granddaughter, channel-surfing. It's an adorable and sharply written scene that works on so many levels, showing us that Jack Bauer finally has something to live for – a family. At the beginning of the episode, Jack even agrees to move back to Los Angeles with his daughter, Kim, and the rest of her company. But this is 24. A show where things never pan out correctly. Something has to happen to set things off, and, sure enough, a match is struck and a wild fire begins, with Jack reluctantly thrown into the midst of it all. In just two hours, we're taken on a mad dash through the streets of New York, watch Jack dodge bullets and narrowly escape death (naturally), and witness sloppy criminals at the United Nations. It's a typical start to a bad day and one that's destined to get worse. Along the way we see a few familiar faces mixed in with a sea of newcomers, though, for the most part, character interactions play off quite well. Teri and Kim Bauer are seen, along with her husband Stephen, who offers little, if anything to the episode. Jack's own family has the potential to become an interesting side device to be used later on, so long as Kim doesn't find herself captured or stalked by mountain lions (shudder). At the shiny and ultra-sleek CTU offices elsewhere, everything, save for one character, is new. Snide comments run amuck, and the banter seen throughout the employees is reminiscent of those who habited the CTU of the show's earlier seasons. The director Brian Hastings, played by Mykelti Williamson, is a gruff an impatient figure - a man of speed. And, oddly enough, it is Chloe O'Brian herself who can't keep up. Rough around the edges and not in tune with the quick ways of NY, she finds herself overwhelmed and unable to please Hastings. Dana Walsh, played by Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff, takes light in her troubles, donning the know-it-all persona that Chloe had held for some time, though is much more outward in her adoption of it. The two have some fun screen-time together and the contrast in expressions between the two actresses is well played. While it's predictable to a fault, 24's eighth day starts on a strong note. Sure, there's nothing out of the ordinary here, and it may take a while before the plot gets some legs, but that's to be expected with a show such as this one. A lot was covered in two hours, but, as mentioned, none of it was unexpected, and the whole thing needs more 'meat.' In the first two hours, the eighth season of 24 seemed to only get its shoes on. From here, however, it needs to start running.
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