The first four hours of Fox’s “24” are a welcome return to form. The veteran drama, which shifts to New York City this season, has just enough tweaks on the show’s familiar “conspiracy-complication-minor resolution-deeper conspiracy-bigger complication…” format to feel fresh despite its well-worn mechanics.
I mocked Freddie Prinze Jr. when THR first reported he was cast this season, thinking he might be a distracting drag on the ticket like Janeane Garofalo last year. But the actor is likable here and fits the “24” universe better than you’d expect. “Battlestar” vet Katee Sackhoff seems frustrated — she’s great when she’s playing moments of total strength or total vulnerability (and best at playing both at the same time). Reacting to computers and phone calls at CTU doesn’t really suit her, she thrives in more active roles. Given that this is “24,” she’ll probably get her turn at bat.
The best addition is Anil Kapoor, best known stateside for his role as the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” host in “Slumdog Millionaire.” He plays an idealized version a Middle East leader with an Elvis-quality pompadour on the verge of signing a historic peace agreement. It’s a painfully standard “24” part, yet he owns each scene he’s in. I hope producers pair him with Bauer at some point, the two scenery chewing actors going head to head, Kapoor barking his line from “Slumdog”: “It’s my f–king show.”