Beliefnet
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I looked forward to Sunday night’s long awaited “24” premiere on Fox with the same eagerness as the show’s most dedicated fans. But I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at the onset of what promises to be yet another season of Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) playing the role of “sacrificial lamb.”

As usual, the show dropped us into the middle of intense terrorist action, and our first hurdle was swallowing the idea that, after all of Jack’s service and subsequent two years spent being tortured in a Chinese prison (last season ended dramatically with Jack’s capture), the U.S. government is yet again ready to sell him down the river: trading his life for the capture of the alleged terrorist mastermind.

Jack’s former CTU colleagues approached the matter with sadness, but also a kind of “we hope you don’t mind, Jack, since your life is already in the toilet” and a “better you than us” casual attitude.

And what does Jack do? Agree to it! “I’d rather die for something than nothing,” he says rather pathetically.

I’ve decided that Jack’s character is a veritable “Giving Tree” of television personalities. Remember that terrible children’s book by Shel Silverstein? The one with the kid who takes and takes and takes, and the tree that gives and gives and gives until there’s nothing left but a stump for the boy to sit on? (Presumably it’s a metaphor–albeit a messed-up one–for the child-parent relationship. Some people think it a beautiful book, but I’ve long thought it simply awful.)

Jack, as TV’s “Giving Tree,” so far seems to be nothing more than a stump of his former self. We’ll have to see if he grows a few new shoots as the season moves forward.

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