It's perhaps telling that I laugh a lot while watching 24. Given that the show contains very little in the way of actual comic relief, it's probably not the reaction the show's seeking to inspire. But I think it explains why I've managed to keep enjoying it even as it has declined over the past few years.
At least people say it's declined over the past few years. And I believe them! I even have faint memories of maybe taking 24 more seriously than I now do. But if I did, in fact, take it more seriously at one point, watching the show now makes me think I probably shouldn't have.
24 is basically pure spectacle. At one point its themes and its sense of urgency had a relevance it no longer really has, underwear bomber or no. It has one great central character in Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer that can sometimes anchor the show in something resembling emotional reality, though that connection too has grown more tenuous. But even when the show has a firmer grip on these elements, its real draw was always the spectacle. And for the most part, that remains intact.
The reason people watch 24, the reason people have always watched 24, is to see Jack Bauer kill a bad guy with an ax. Or scream in their face. Or shoot them in the leg. Because it's awesome and it remains awesome. And I don't use the word cheaply in this instance. It really is awesome.
It used to signify something deeper than that. Back when our anger was rawer, before that moment had passed. But it's mostly the moment that's changed. The pure stupid ridiculous spectacle remains. It used to be cathartic, but now it just plays as dumb entertainment. And as far as the culture is concerned, that's probably a change for the better.
So what is there to say about the premiere? It was sufficiently ridiculous. I like Katee Sackhoff a lot. The plots all seem convoluted enough to be able to wind their way through another 23 episodes. When the helicopter blew up, that was kind of cool. Oh, and Jack killed a guy with an ax. I couldn't help but laugh.