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24: Janeane Garofalo Makes Us Sad

There was a time when Janeane Garofalo fostered legitimate goodwill. She was smart, funny, caustic, and prettier than the plots of movies like The Truth About Cats and Dogs wanted us to believe. She was co-writing books with Ben Stiller and kicking ass on The Larry Sanders Show. Now she’s on 24, and doesn’t even get to do anything Garofaloian. She just plays a regular old FBI staffer, seemingly happy to have the work. She had her biggest episode last night, and she was on for about ten minutes. Hollywood’s a tough racket, and it’s more sad than shocking or ridiculous. Unlike everything on this week’s Absurd-o-Meter.

3. CTU hits the big time. CTU's exiled foursome has added FBI agent Renee Walker to its ranks, and, like an indie-rock band that signs with a big record label, they’re going mainstream. In this episode, they infiltrate terrorist Dubaku’s compound, kill most of his henchmen, rescue Sengalan prime minister Mutobo, and get phone calls through to the White House. Imagine if they’d had five or six people on the team. The season would have been two episodes long. Absurdity Factor: 4

2. Warden Norton: somehow not the bad guy. The old CTU crew has known of the evil Sengalan conspiracy within the U.S. government all season, but they haven’t known how many people are involved. (Only that it goes “to the very top,” of course.) But the ominous music and the casting of Bob Gunton (Andy Dufresne’s tormentor in The Shawshank Redemption) as President Taylor’s chief of staff have been some pretty strong hints. And in this episode, President Taylor shares information with him that she probably shouldn’t have, which means he’s clearly the mole, right? We doubt it. A couple of seasons ago, 24 cast Laura Palmer’s dad as a potential baddie and set him up so well to be the evil mole in the White House that it was obvious it couldn’t really be him. Expect the same thing here. Warden Norton is probably a good guy. Still, that is ludicrous. Absurdity Factor: 5

1. The terrorist has a girlfriend. In one of those attempts to get a whoa, we learn that the evil Dubaku has actually been pretending to be a man named Samuel, and actually has a girlfriend who works as a diner waitress. Considering this is the first time Dubaku has been given a personality trait other than Guy Who Wants to Kill Americans, we’re pretty certain that the waitress is going to be working with Jack, against her will, within the month. (Or, in 24 time, the next four hours.) When does this guy, with his terrorism, and bloodlust to run his home country into the ground, have time to date? Why would he bother? And, most important: How does he like his eggs? Absurdity Factor: 7

Photo: Courtesy of Fox