***************************** SPOILER ALERT . SPOILER ALERT *****************************OMFG I can't believe they killed off President Palmer AND Michelle Dessler before the first commercial break. The previews for the new season were chock full of hype, and the famed "the first ten minutes will change everything" line was basically promising that viewers would be disappointed. I can tell you with the clarity of hindsight that the return of Jack Bauer was anything but a let down.
In a frenetic opening sequence, President Palmer was assassinated by a sniper and a car bomb took the life of ex-CTU operative Michelle Dessler and left Tony Almeida in critical condition. A ballsy move to be sure, ostensibly icing three principal characters in the first ten minutes.
The sudden loss of some of the best characters the show has ever offered is tempered somewhat by the return of Audrey Raines from Season 4, as well as fellow holdovers like Chloe O'Brien and Edgar Stiles (sidenote: Edgar's character is easily the least likeable cast member of any show in the history of television; just die already).
A couple of tiny gripes: it's hard to fathom that Derek would follow Jack into the airport to warn him about the shady characters he saw outside after just finding out that:
a) Jack was supposed to be dead
b) Jack told him and his Mom that his name was "Frank"
c) Jack just shot and killed a man
d) Jack just knocked out an FBI agent in order to commit identity theft
e) Jack grabbed him by the throat at one point and told him "the only reason you're conscious is because I don't feel like carrying you"
Derek had just been reunited with his mother, who met he and Jack in Los Angeles. It's very clear to me that the last thing he would do is follow Jack into the airport to pass along news of said shady characters.
My other complaint is that the writers are revisiting the "mentally unstable female character" angle that crashed and burned so horribly in Season 4. That time it was Erin Driscoll's bipolar daughter that added nothing to the story and just made me yearn for more lispy Edgar dialog. This season it's President Logan's dellusional wife mucking things up. At least this time the mental disorder brings something to the table: everyone is too busy writing off her ramblings as dellusions to realize that she may know something of some import.
Minor quibbles aside, while derivative crime dramas saturate prime time every night, the first few scenes of Day 5 make you realize that there isn't a more exciting show on television right now.
Lost is really good, too.