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Another hour of twists for a helter-skelter '24'

October 28, 2003|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

It's only 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and Jack Bauer is already strung out. It's going to be another one of those days.

Welcome to the third day -- er, season -- of the real-time action drama "24," which sprints to a tantalizing start at 9 tonight on Fox.

Three years after the attempt on his life, something seems amiss with President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert). He just might be pulling a Jed Bartlet and hiding his true condition.

At the elite CIA counterterrorism unit in Los Angeles, Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland, convincing as ever) has been paired with new series regular, Chase Edmunds (James Badge Dale), and his fresh-faced young partner already seems to be getting on his frazzled nerves.

Meanwhile, drug lords are threatening to unleash a pneumonic virus that could kill 1 million Angelenos a week.

Oh, yeah: And Bauer's daughter, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert), seems to be mixed up with the new guy in the squad, but they haven't mustered the courage to tell him yet. The producers promise that Kim won't be tangling with any cougars this year, but as for her protective papa, all bets are off.

The taut season premiere, appropriately titled "Day 3: 1:00-2:00 p.m.," was written by Joel Surnow and Michael Loceff, and directed with the usual panache by Jon Cassar.

By now some may have tired of the show's tick-tock format, violent action -- and yes, by that we do mean the hand-held camera work -- and retro split-screen editing, but the fuddy-duddies can have their standard fare. The gimmicks are more attraction than distraction.

Once again, the season premiere is being broadcast without commercials thanks to a corporate sponsor, so if you still haven't seen what the fuss is about, the hour is upon you.

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