Time Out says
The season-in-one-day gimmick that is 24’s trademark means that Jack Bauer could theoretically have experienced two weeks of postcrisis R&R during a hiatus that lasted eight months for viewers. Instead, gaps of 18 months to three years separate Jack’s adventures, meaning that a series that began in 2001 for viewers and characters alike is now taking place circa 2013. The producers have dodged the issue in the past, but the first four hours of the new sixth season wholeheartedly embrace it—not by throwing in goofy technology but by adding dystopian elements that go further in getting the audience to question their political beliefs, while still providing all the explosive action and merciless suspense with which 24 has become synonymous.
America is reeling from a nationwide string of bus and train bombings that have killed hundreds, and the top suspect, Hamir Al-Hassad (Alexander Siddig)—a young Arafat in a $3,000 suit—is maintaining radio silence. Al-Hassad’s top lieutenant, Abu Fayed (Adoni Maropis), offers his boss to the U.S. government in exchange for the man who killed his brother: our boy Jack, who’s entering month No. 20 as a prisoner of the Chinese. Confused by contradictory data, newly inaugurated President Wayne Palmer (D.B. Woodside) defers a little too much to his chief of staff (Peter MacNicol), a cross between Joseph Goebbels and Tolkien’s Wormtongue, who’s been secretly preparing a final solution to the problem of Islam in America.
The premiere relies heavily on familiar 24 tropes, and an enormous elephant in the room goes unacknowledged: Up to a third of U.S. Muslims are, like President Palmer, native-born African-Americans. Nonetheless, 24—which just came off its best season—has become even more vital by giving us a Jack Bauer who’s tired, aging and doubtful he’ll have the strength to save a world that turned upside down without him.- — Andrew Johnston