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'24': Love and counter-terrorism don't mix

April 24, 2007 | 10:14 am

24 For all those critics who fretted over “24’s” seeming lack of a social conscience, Monday night’s episode (12 a.m.-1 a.m.) could only have been good news. Here, finally, the show that glorified torture and made a mockery of due process was confronting a truly important life lesson: the danger of dating in the workplace.

Before the hour was up, the president’s advisor Karen Hayes (Jayne Atkinson) was forced to fire her husband, Counter Terrorist Unit chief Bill Buchanan (James Morrison); Morris (Carlo Rota) decided he could no longer work with his ex-wife, Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub); and Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) discovered that his girlfriend, Audrey (Kim Raver) had gone completely bonkers while in the custody of the Chinese.

Guess they should have tried Internet dating.

The only person who disregarded the lesson was Vice President Daniels (Powers Boothe) who, after being installed as acting President, seemed interested in making it with his chief of staff (Kari Matchett) in the Oval Office as his first official act. Considering that the last time he got the power, he tried to make a war with the Middle East, it’s possible making love was the only move he had left.

The teasers breathlessly tell us that the “countdown to the ‘24’ season finale is on,” but is all this really what they expect us to get excited about?

Of course, Jack’s suicide plan to deal with the Chinese got messed up, and Cheng (Tzi Ma) got away with a very important circuit board. But a circuit board is not nearly as scary as a suitcase nuke, and I can’t bring myself to sweat it. Bill Buchanan’s ouster also seemed like a major plot point, but does it ever matter who’s running CTU?

Remember Jack Bauer himself was removed from his top CTU spot during the first season, and he’s continued to work there for six years now.

They really need something special to save this season from the nosedive it’s been in lately. My hope is that they figure out a way to bring back Jack’s dad (James Cromwell). He’s grizzled and mean and ruthless enough to inject a real sense of danger back into a series that’s grown a little soft.

Maybe if we call close our eyes and really believe, the “24” gods will grant my wish. What the heck, it can’t be any worse than the impending naughty adventures of Vice President Daniels.

(Photo courtesy Fox)

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