Scott D. Pierce: Is '24' out of ideas?

Published: Monday, April 2 2007 10:27 a.m. MDT

In its sixth season, "24" remains one of my favorite TV shows. I'm a huge fan — I can't wait to see what happens next. I've seen every episode.

But ... I'm starting to think that the writers have run out of ideas. A lot of what's happening in Season 6 looks a lot like what happened in Season 2.

• In Season 2, a nuclear attack looms over Los Angeles. Intelligence believes the threat comes from a specific terrorist group.

In Season 6, a nuclear attack looms. One bomb has gone off outside Los Angeles; another has been recovered; three remain. Intelligence points to a specific terrorist.

• In Season 2, pressure from within his administration mounts on President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) to launch a military attack on the Middle Eastern country where the terrorist group is based.

In Season 6, pressure from within his administration mounts on President Wayne Palmer (DB Woodside) to launch a military attack on the Middle Eastern country that is home to the terrorist.

• In Season 2, it turns out the intelligence is wrong. The implicated terrorist group was actually not involved in the attempted nuclear attack.

In Season 6, it turns out the intelligence is wrong. Terrorist A actually had nothing to do with the nuclear attack; it was Terrorist B.

• In Season 2, it turns out a shadowy figure was behind the plot, manipulating everyone involved.

In Season 6, it turns out a Russian ex-general was behind the plot, manipulating everyone involved.

• In Season 2, Vice President Prescott (Alan Dale) assumes power under the 25th Amendment, declaring President Palmer's refusal to launch a military response is proof he is unfit for office. The veep then orders an attack on that Middle Eastern country.

In Season 6, Vice President Daniels (Powers Booth) assumes power after a failed assassination attempt on the president. He orders a nuclear strike on that Middle Eastern country. The president is brought out of a medically induced coma and countermands the order; the vice president announces his intention to have Palmer declared unfit for office, largely because of his refusal to launch a military response.

I know that there are still nine episodes remaining this season. And, as I've written before, you can't think too hard about what's happening on "24" because then you'll ruin your own fun.

(Jack is nearly dead and/or tortured in one hour; he's saving the world again in the next. And so on and so on.)

But ... what worries me here is that the similarities between Season 2 and Season 6 are so, well, overwhelming. If the writers can't come up with original material for Season 6, what does that mean for future seasons?

I'm not sure even Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) can save us.

I HAD FORGOTTEN that Alan Dale played the mean vice president in Season 2 of "24." He now plays a mean rich guy on "Ugly Betty."

He also spent 2 1/2 seasons as a mean rich guy on "The O.C." And he's guest starred on "Lost" as — you guessed it! — a mean rich guy.

Oh, and he guest starred as the secretary of commerce in two episodes of "The West Wing" — including the one in which President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) temporarily relinquished power under the terms of the 25th Amendment.

How weird is that?


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com