First off, a thousand lashes to the exec at Fox who thought it would be a good idea to run the season premiere of “24” opposite the Golden Globes. I don’t care if you had the date booked years before NBC decided to host the awards that night; you move the show back a week. Or even a day. But you don’t run a premiere against an awards show, and not just an awards show but one of the biggies. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Having said that, hats off to Mickey Rourke and “Slumdog Millionaire” for their wins.

As season premieres go, “24” has certainly had more explosive openings, but I liked what they did here, and also what they didn’t do. The show had gotten way too insular in terms of everything happening in Los Angeles, so moving the show to the east coast is a nice change of pace. Even better, the terrorist plot involves a threat that would actually affect the entire country. (No power or drinking water? Yikes.) Yes, it’s a riff on the plot from “Live Free or Die Hard” – and there is absolutely no way that they would ever get those planes synced up so that they would both hit the crossing point of two runways at the exact same time – but if it means that we don’t have to worry about a nuclear weapon this season, that can only be a good thing. They were also smart to acknowledge what a walking cliche Jack Bauer had become. “WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?” (*stabs man in genitals with spork*) That couldn’t have been easy for the producers to admit, but it needed to be done.

“Mr. Bauer, do you swear to kick the butt, the whole butt and nothing but the butt, so help you God?”

However, I’m still trying to wrap my head around Tony Almeida as this year’s villain. We still don’t know why he switched teams – and that’s good that they haven’t revealed that yet, that was the ‘what they didn’t do’ that I was referring to – but I’m not sure they can possibly come up with a rationale that will satisfy me. At the moment, he appears to be a free agent of sorts, a contract guy that offers his services to anyone willing to pay for them. God knows he wouldn’t be doing the bidding of a mass murderer like General Candyman any other way, right? And are we really to believe that Jack is only now learning that Tony is still alive? Yes, he was kidnapped by the Chinese hours after Tony’s supposed death, but he came back…years ago. I’m thinking the first thing someone at CTU would have told him is that Tony is not dead. They better have an answer for that as this season unfolds.

And man, did they stunt-cast the bejeezus out of this season. Janeane Garofalo as an easily stressed techie? Please tell me that Chloe O’Brien literally eats her alive at some point in the season. Bob Gunton, aka the warden in “The Shawshank Redemption,” is on Madame President’s staff, and Colm Feore is the First Man? There’s no way I’m looking at him without thinking of “Storm of the Century.” Bonus points if they work the phrase “Give me what I want, and I’ll go away” into the dialogue. Lastly, the great Kurtwood Smith is the senator that is trying to bring Jack to “justice.” Now, I like Kurtwood Smith, but did they really need him to play that part? You get the sense that the suits were nervous, so they snagged as many name actors as they could. It’s overkill, of course, but that’s Hollywood for you.

For those of you playing the “24” drinking game, The “Damn it” counter is at three, though Jack only said one of them.

All in all, not a bad way to start the season. Not great, but who knows, maybe that’s a good thing; in years past, they would blow the doors off the show in the premiere, only to implode six episodes later (ahem, abandoned plot involving Jack’s “nephew” in season six). The ads for hours three and four even hint at a big bombshell dropping. Maybe they finally get it now: the premiere is useless if everything that follows is shit. Yep, that’s what blogging a show will do to a person: turn them from a fan to someone who simply hopes that he’s not blogging about shit. Sigh.