I don't understand it at all, but the programming whizzes at Fox have given us the first 5 episodes of 24 in just over a week. This is the only major network prime time show I watch, and I didn't even see Season One until it was out on DVD. Both DH and I got hooked.
The first season had its excesses, which were multiplied several times over in seasons 2 and 3 (the silliest by far). Season 3 ended rather badly and heart-wrenchingly, and it was clear that a lot of the recurring characters were not going to return. So that opened up a lot of possibilities for Season 4, and honestly, it wasn't clear whether that was a good thing or not.
Season 4, however, has been outstanding, and looks promising for the rest of the "day" as well. There's a minimum of really stupid tangential subplots (so far, anyway), and -- writers be praised! -- there is the sense that they actually mapped out the entire "day" before they started filming, so there won't be any awkward and lame lapses in the middle of the season as they mark time working up to the big finale.
Jack's back to be his old awesome maverick self, and the supporting cast is terrific as well. But one of the best things about 24 is M. Giant's recaps over at Television Without Pity.
TWoP is great. With TWoP recaps, you never have to watch a show! Seriously, I quit watching ER about a million years ago, but I still read the recaps. The recaps are entertaining, but the show is so deathly stupid, I can't imagine watching it. The recaps are great because you get commentary right along with the narrative, just the same way you'd get it if you were watching the ep sitting around with your highly critical friends. It's great fun if you're in the right mood -- and with TWoP, you get to snark on your own schedule. Cool.