Despite the fact that the seventh season of FOX's addicting and thrilling 24 won't start until January, the network sent out a press release this afternoon, and it contained, well, a stunning revelation. (This would be the point, if you don't want to be spoiled, to check out my post on Keith Olbermann's ratings)
"Day 7" of 24 will continue the show's unique and trend-setting format with compelling new elements. With CTU dismantled, the show's setting moves to Washington, DC, where JACK BAUER (Kiefer Sutherland) faces trial for his actions in the pursuit of justice. Bauer's day gets off to a shocking start when former colleague TONY ALMEIDA (Carlos Bernard), last seen in "Day 5," returns after being left for dead by a terrorist conspirator in CTU's infirmary.
"Tony's uncertain fate near the end of 'Day 5' left the door open for his return," said executive producer/show-runner Howard Gordon. "And since there was no silent clock at the conclusion of his last appearance the 24 tribute to a major character's demise we always kept this as a possibility."
There were rumors of Tony's return floating around during the run-up to the season six season finale. I didn't like the idea back then and I don't like it now. Yes, 24 got stale last season, and suffered, by far, its weakest effort to date. And yes, Tony Almeida was one of the show's best characters. But, he's dead. Or should be. 24 may be known for its twists and turns, but to try to get around Tony's death, which we saw happen, because the writers have run out of other ideas, isn't the way to breathe new life into the show.
Season 7 could be good, without Tony's return. CTU is gone. So is the setting of Los Angeles. And the cast is almost entirely turned over, save for the only two characters worth bringing back, Chloe O'Brian and Bill Buchanan. And the new cast members, including Janeane Garofalo (who some find annoying, but I really enjoyed in West Wing last year) are more than enough to change things up without getting desperate. And bringing back Tony, no matter how great of a character he is, is just that. Desperate.