I have a more complex post in mind about the psychoanalytics of serialism that will involve not just 24 but also Alias and Veronica Mars (if there's one opening sentence that will repulse readers, I think I just typed it), but for the moment you'll have to settle for...
THE 24 FANTASY LEAGUE ANALYSIS
Best used in conjunction with Soi Disantra's Power Rankings.
Jack Bauer - Obviously, he went first overall in pre-season drafts. Although there were questions about his possibly scaled back role, the first four episodes go pretty far to show that he's back to his old self, and perhaps even more so: "The only reason you're still conscious is because I don't want to carry you." Or unveiling to Palmer's assassin his new mobile hospital, which incidentally is in the form of a bullet to the head. Boo-yeah, say Jack owners. Even though he got drawn out by a tired, even cliched maneuver (Terrorists: "We're going to shoot this sniffling kid you're for some reason attached to, so come on out!"), Jack's all-around game is still too valuable to neglect, like Shawn Marion, except without the butt-ugly jumpshot, or Alex Rodriguez without the pinstripes. (Yes, I just gave myself mental images of ARod pr0n.) One key but underrated stat: the ability to drive through LA without ever getting caught in traffic.
Chloe O'Brian - When she first debuted in the third season, she was no more than another desk jockey with a penchant for jaw-droppingly gauche statements. But she's grown as a character (possibly the only cast member to realize how silly the show can be, and she consequently infuses her performance with deadpan irony), and people have come around to appreciate her idiosyncrasies, even if some of which are more loveable than others. Good: her network password is apparently common knowledge among CTU veterans. (Unless it's just Edgar who knows, in which case, yuck.) Bad: giving Jack's bio to Derek, and following it up with, "I probably shouldn't have told you that" (paraphrase). Then again, somebody has to catch up new viewers, and that's versatility you can't dismiss. Without a doubt she's the next premium starter after Jack, even if we have Sexy!Chloe who doesn't want everyone to think she's a slut.
Walt Cummings - For better or for worse, Walt looks to be a long-term, high-level pick of the enforcer variety. A late season debut last year, he's carried over the conniving, oily, ruleless strategizing into this season. But be careful: though he'll probably make it past midseason, watch him closely in the final four episodes -- if the track record of these types of players holds up, the only way Cummings might make it all the way to the end of the season is as a cold body.
Rudy Hobbit - Making a big splash in his debut, it looks like he'll be stealing valuable minutes away from Bill "Bull" Buchanan. In the short term, definitely add him if he's still available in your league. But with a power struggle between the two of them a near certainty, be ready to bench him.
Curtis Manning - "Superfly" may not get the high profile attention like Jack, Chloe or whoever is the resident villain, but he's a hard worker who'll prop up your peripheral stats.
Bill Buchanan - He took a big hit when he was shown up by a fat hobbit/one-time college walk-on mascot, even though he was a high-medium pick going on last year's solid and capable performance. But as alluded to in Lynn McGill's entry, the CTU Bossman role is far from settled.
Martha Marth Martha! Logan - An up-and-down start for her. First she's crazy, then she's wily, then she's chloroformed by a bureaucrat (albeit a fat one who gets his hands dirty a lot). If you're in a deep league, she might be worth a start, but her inconsistency is going to be a problem this season -- especially if she keeps up with her slutty act, which I'm sure the gods of 24 will not look kindly on.
Fat Terror Overlord - Is he really calling the shots? Who takes credit for the airport standoff? Wait and see.
Audrey Raines - What's her point?
Mike Novick - Novickaine looks like he'll be a bystander for the early part of the season (if not longer) as the Logans and Cummings look to dominate the White House-end of 24.
Edgar Stiles - The only reason he isn't an outright drop is because he seems destined to score with Chloe.
Wayne Palmer - He seems to be window dressing at this point, a nostalgic bit player who links back to the glory days of the Jack/David Palmer tag-team, but Wayne has the potential to figure into the murder plot in a big way -- or he may disappear entirely. How's that for fantasy advice?
David Palmer - A tough break for owners who drafted him based on his second-half performance last year. After not figuring at all into early season 4, he came on strong in relief of both President John "Who?" Keeler and then Logan. However, 24 fantasy leaguers probably should've seen his reduced role, his insurance ads, and his tendency to gaze pensively out of large windows as warning signs.
President Logan - If you're willing to buy into Logan's political acumen when he more likely lucked into victory this week (thanks, no less, to Fat Hobbit spotting Jack's "FLANK 2, WINK WINK"), then I've got some pet rocks for sale -- I hear that the 80s are in again!
Michelle Dessler - Count me as someone who never saw Michelle's appeal. Not that attractive, nor particularly good at what she does. When someone's high point on the show is escaping from Terror Minions only to be told by CTU to get recaptured -- two seasons ago -- then she's kind of ineffective. (Case in point: Michelle of all people had to interrogate the main baddy, and after some pathetic probing, she gave up. Right away, Jack comes in, does his usual Jack posturing, and out comes the needed intelligence.)
Derek "Aldous" Huxley - Going from spying on Frank Flynn to "You're my surrogate Spydaddy, Jack," Derek demonstrates the show's conservatism (after all!) -- the nuclear family über alles! On the other hand, any time a civilian is freed from a hostage situation and sent to the safe confines of CTU, something bad happens. Drop this poor man's Val Kilmer like he's hot.
Beresch - Another rookie who made a big contribution: he took over the airport like it was child's play, then showed he was all business by refusing to negotiate with CTU, killed hostages every 15 minutes like he said he would (the distraction of one of his men blowing up aside), and blew himself up rather than be taken into Torture Central. Of course, that last bit put an end to his usefulness.
Tony Almeida - After his life-threatening head trauma, Soulpatch suddenly became available in 50% of leagues. Given his history, Tony would be an extremely high-ceiling pick-up. He always has in nose in the thick of the action, and given what happened to Michelle, he is assured of extensive time to angst over the death of his lover. The only question is how quickly he'll bounce back from his injury, though if his past is any indication, he'll be back power whispering in under 3 hours.
Diane "Aldous" Huxley - I had no idea that she was her from Spin City because I was surprised at how old she looked. Then I remembered that the last time I watched Spin City was before Michael J. Fox left. Worth a brief flyer, though, since she can still clear Jack of that nasty assassination charge.
President Yuri Suvarov - The 24 world is only big enough for one president of a superpower, and that'd be Logan, though only by default. Suvarov will be out of the picture -- one way or another -- around midseason, if not sooner.
Evelyn - A total pushover. Only add her if you're short on hotties.
Kim Bauer - Same as Evelyn, except with more cougar.
Spenser Wolff - If you're desperate enough to pick up Chloe's new boytoy, you'd best have some balm ready, because he's almost guaranteed to burn you when this year's CTU mole turns out to be him.
Terror Minions - If you don't know well enough to keep away from these anonymous folks, then you really shouldn't be playing. In 24-speak, men who are described as "dedicated and willing to do whatever it takes" invariably have high Expendability Quotients. If this were sports talk, these guy would have "upside" and "intangibles."
Next column: 11 a.m.
Indie rating: The Shop Assistants - "What A Way To Die"