Fox's cult hit ''24'' is back, stirring up another bad day for Kiefer Sutherland's beleaguered CIA agent -- an excerpt from Entertainment Weekly's Oct. 25, 2002, cover story

By Josh Wolk
Updated October 18, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

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READER ADVISORY This excerpt contains key plot details

The Fox thriller ”24,” which premieres its second season commercial-free on Oct. 29, is coming off a very good year — having earned critical raves, a Golden Globe for star Kiefer Sutherland, and a writing Emmy for the show’s creators. But this year, just as the producers refuse to make things easy for Sutherland’s CIA agent Jack Bauer — putting him, his daughter, or thousands of lives in peril at least once an hour — they’ve refused to take the easy route with their drama in a season that is, appropriately, do-or-die. After battling to maintain their groundbreaking yet risky real-time format (24 one-hour episodes add up to one 24-hour adventure/national nightmare for Bauer), they’ve concocted a horrendously topical terrorism story line for their emotionally damaged, trigger-giddy protagonist to tackle. Bauer wasn’t exactly Mr. Warmth last season, but now the grieving agent makes Andy Sipowicz look like Andy Griffith.

”Jack doesn’t really care anymore,” says Sutherland. ”Whatever boundaries he had last year are pretty much gone now. Last year’s promo was great: ‘I’m federal agent Jack Bauer, and today is the longest day of my life.’ Now maybe it’s ‘I’m federal agent Jack Bauer, and today is the most violent day of my life.”’

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