24, Kiefer Sutherland

Fox

Oh no they di-in't.

That's what you'll be saying when you see the first four episodes of the new season of 24, which begin this very Sunday night on Fox.

I've just finished watching them, and I can tell you that not only should Kiefer win an Emmy for his first five minutes on screen alone (in which he doesn't even speak), but also that this damn show has done it again. Just when you thought you knew the formula, knew the players, could possibly predict what might happen next, the storyline bitch-slaps you into an entirely different hemisphere. And oh, it is good.

Now, just to get everyone up to speed on what you can expect from 24 this season, here's my rundown of what you need to know:

1. Jack Bauer is hairy. Like, gross hairy. Like, I'm pretty sure small creatures are living inside that nappy beard of his. Twenty months of Chinese torture has not been kind to our heroic world-saver. J.B. is troubled, he's skittish, he's mute—and when he does open his mouth (and teeth) in the first episode, well, let's just say that there's a moment that is not for the weak of stomach. I'm wretching now just thinking about it! Blech!

2. Chloe is hot. So long, computer geek! Our girl Mary Lynn Rajskub is now a confoundingly coiffed, svelte señorita who is front and center in what appears (at least to moi) to be something of a love triangle! Love it.

3. Old friends are back. "It's true. You haven't seen the last of Martha Logan," Jean Smart tells me. "But I haven't even read what I'm going to do yet." So it's gonna be a while before we see the Logans—yes, Martha's hubby the former Prez (Gregory Itzin) is back, too. As for Kim Raver (Audrey), she says only, "I might [be back]. Maybe. My commitment this year was to The Nine and now we are trying to figure that out. I am leaving that to the producers." (And as you'll soon see, Jack has not forgotten about her!)

4. New friends are coming, too. Chad Lowe has signed on to several episodes this season. He plays a savvy politician named Reed Pollock. And Rena Sofer (she's everywhere, is she not?!) steps in, too. When asked which side her character is, she says, "I'm tainted by bad, but I think I'm good. I play Paul McCrane's wife."

5. The end of the fourth episode will leave you speechless. Seriously. I can't even talk about it. It's that insane.

Don't forget to tune in to 24 this Sunday for the big premiere on Fox. Feel free to join your fellow 24 lovers on our message boards and watch it together. (I'll be at the Lost party gathering up scoop for ya.) And I'll have much more 24 scoop for you after next week's big Fox party at the TCAs.

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