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SHOW TRACKER

Dad has come to save the day

James Cromwell's appearance as Jack's father injects `24' with a needed lighter touch.

January 31, 2007|Patrick Day | Times Staff Writer

As the cloud of radioactive dust dissipated over Simi Valley, and Season 6 of "24" headed into the lunch hour on Monday night's episode, one wondered why a nuclear bomb had gone off in a major U.S. city and everyone wasn't acting a little more freaked out. But logic aside, the potential of this season instantly became clear with the appearance of a single guest star: James Cromwell as Jack's dad.

Although the introduction of previously unseen family members usually smacks of desperation, and it's a disappointment that the role isn't being played by Kiefer Sutherland's real-life father, Donald, Cromwell as Pere Bauer could bring a nice bit of levity to a series that too often wallows in its clenched-jaw sense of determination. How many episodes will go by before he gives Jack a real scolding? With the sibling rivalry between Jack and Graem (Paul McCrane) flying thick in the few moments of screen time the family had together, any self-respecting parent would feel compelled to weigh in on the issue. Though Cromwell's presence was muted in his first episode, the fact that he's a senior citizen and still has the temerity to assemble a security team to stake out the traitorous Darren McCarthy's office hints that the Bauer siblings' intensity doesn't come from their mother's side.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday February 04, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
'24': An article in Wednesday's Calendar section about "24" gave the location of the nuclear blast on the TV show as Simi Valley. The bomb went off in Valencia, in the Santa Clarita Valley.

As for Graem, who spent last season all but twirling his figurative mustache, the surprise of last week's episode was not that he is back as an evildoer but that he is Jack's brother. Now that Jack has yanked him out of the bad-guy closet, Graem will have to work extra hard to distinguish himself from the lethal menace of Fayed the terrorist (Adoni Maropis) and the snaky charm of the new President Palmer's civil liberties shredding advisor (Peter MacNicol).

Meanwhile, another previously unseen family member, Sandra Palmer (President Palmer's sister), continued to drag the show down with her tedious storyline in which she fights against the government's unfair treatment of Muslims, while her co-worker Walid stands around a detention center trying to look nonchalant while asking very nosy questions of his fellow prisoners. Having been sniffed out as a plant by the end of the episode, Walid was no longer standing, since he was beaten to a pulp. But why must each season have a bum plot?

Best line of the episode went to the nuclear weapon dealing Darren McCarthy (David Hunt), who turned to his grousing girlfriend after getting off the phone with a murderous terrorist and said, "Your negativity is not what I need right now."

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Show Tracker is a new column that follows television series through their highs and lows.

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