Don't call it a comeback (but it kind of is)

With a high-capacity PVR, I can afford to gamble on shows that I normally wouldn't stay home to watch. My PVR had been dutifully logging the seasons-to-date of The West Wing and 24, two shows that lost me about mid way through last season. The former had lost its edge, and the latter had grown stale.

Both shows shook things up this season, and now they're back to high priority season pass status in my PVR. Former fans who fell off the bandwagon, like yours truly, might want to consider revisiting old friends. The Bartlett administration is in its last year, and its refreshing to see some of the old crew back on the campaign trail. New roles for old faces have given all the actors freedom to stretch their legs again, and stretching is important on a walk-and-talk show. And for goodness sake, just let Josh and Donna get together. After five seasons and change, they've earned it. The West Wing isn't at the level it set its first two seasons, and its dead spots remind fans of that in a painful way, but it also shows the occasional spark and crackle that brings back nostalgia for a time when, well, our president wasn't George Bush.

Meanwhile, Jack Bauer's having another one of those days. With his track record, he should probably be the president himself, but instead he's running around chasing down terrorists. 24 is fairly preposterous--there's no way all that can happen in 24 hours, and no one would really care if they called it 48 or even 72. The show also features an unusually high concentration of ambitious and insecure women, many of whom turn out to be conniving traitors to their own country, especially African-American women. In condensing all this action and confrontation and conflict in 24 episodes, though, it may be the perfect kinetic entertainment drug for our attention-deficit age.