The 2008 season was lost to the writers’ strike, but long-absent 24 returns with 24: Redemption, a very TV-movie-ish TV movie meant to set up and pique our interest for the seventh season, which begins on Jan. 11. Last we saw agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), he was a man without a CTU, looking gloomily out to sea. As Redemption picks up, we find Jack working with his old special-ops pal (Trainspotting‘s Robert Carlyle) at a boys’ school in the fictional war-torn African country of Sangala. There he bonds with ridiculously earnest kids and is the owner of a beautiful scarf so strangely cherished, it should have been tagged Plot Point for Later Use. Jack has been hopping continents, ducking a subpoena from a Senate subcommittee for ”illegal detention and torture of certain prisoners in [his] custody.”
Lest anyone worry that 24‘s hawkish politics have gone soft — that with the subpoena, that Redemption word, and Jack’s soulful hugging of orphans — don’t. The government official (Ally McBeal‘s Gil Bellows) who comes to serve Jack is a predictably conniving bureaucrat just begging for a whupping: He has a wet upper lip and Woody Allen nerd glasses. The U.N. rep assigned to the school is (a) French and (b) a coward who whines about neutrality as brutal warriors storm the school to steal more boy soldiers. ”Why don’t you go hide in the shelter with the other children?” snarls Jack. And, bien sur, Frenchy does, while Jack bags his usual quota of bad guys.
Redemption does set some nice, bouncy balls rolling for January: A vicious Sangala warlord (the Candyman himself, Tony Todd) is leading a coup funded by an American businessman-terrorist (Jon Voight). The President-elect of the United States, Allison Taylor (all hail Tony winner Cherry Jones!), has a son (Eric Lively) who may be targeted by that shady businessman. A preview for season 7 dishes up several more shocking developments, the least surprising being that Jack doesn’t squirm long in front of that subcommittee before he’s back out, exacting muscular justice. Considering 24‘s new season will roll out with a very different administration sitting in the real White House, we’ll see if Jack?s interrogation techniques feel old-school or just very outdated. B?