CHANNEL HOPPER: One more ridiculous line and I'm going to have to shoot you...

Yu-Gi-Oh! (Nickelodeon, Sky One, Five and probably on another 27 channels that I've yet to see) is an animated blonde "skaterpunk" style teenager with a voice like the late Sir James Goldsmith being slowly roasted over a Bunsen burner.

Yugi, as his friends call him, seems to be engaged in some sort of permanent card game with all sorts of evil wraiths, spirits and monsters who are prone to challenge his moves with statements such as:

"The seal of Moriculcos serves me now and all of its ancient powers rest on my side of the field, strengthening my dark magician Gol the dragon with 500 extra points."

Pretty bad, huh? Pah! That's as nothing. 24's back and it makes Yugi's nemeses look like Simon Callow and Stephen Fry feasting on the complete Oxford English Dictionary.

Kim's gone (phew!) And Jack's gone too. I mean he's not gone exactly, but he's somewhere other than the CTU, working for US Defense Secretary James Heller (William Devane, obviously upset at not becoming Vice President on The West Wing, so he's moved series in the interests of advancing his political career). Jack's happier as well as he's also working very closely indeed with Devane's assistant Audrey who just happens to be his daughter. (Heller's that is, not Jack's - that would be Kim, and she's gone, remember?)

CTU is now being run by Erin Driscoll, a thankless role for actress Alberta Watson as Driscoll is simply there to tell Jack not to do anything. At least, that is, until Jack decides to shoot a suspect in the leg to get him to disclose the target of the latest terrorist plot. Then her role is to yell "Call security!", a strange request, you might think, from the head of the Counter Terrorist Unit in her own headquarters, but there you go.

There's also a new geek who, ticked off for not bringing his laptop to a meeting replies, "I don't need my laptop, I have everything memorised." What, everything? All your Doom high-scores, passwords, spam mails about cheap Viagra and what autoexec.bat means? Wow. Then there's the trendy young man from some sort of media agency who discovers rogue computer code pouring onto his screen, leading him to observe that, "It looks like something's trying to corrupt the internet." What, all of it? There are some very unpleasant offshore websites who might just have stolen a march there. But his family gets murdered anyway, much as you'd expect.

Heller has already told his anti-globalisation activist son to "spare me your sixth-grade Michael Moore logic". But his best line comes after he and his daughter are kidnapped to a bunker somewhere in the less attractive part of the Hollywood Hills. There's a strong possibility that unspeakable things will be done to them live on the internet (thus corrupting it even more, no doubt), but Heller knows how to get through it. "You cannot allow a negative thought to enter your head," he tells Audrey, which works for about a minute until their captors instruct him to undress. At which point they both seem to filled with negative thoughts pretty quickly.

Apparently, some Muslim organisations have complained about stereotyping in 24. Get to the back of the queue, please. It's a long one.

i.millar@independent.co.uk

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