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‘24’ begins another jam-packed day

Plus: James Brown celebrated in PBS documentary

Among drama series, “24” is probably the zaniest. It’s also one of the most engrossing and addictive shows on the air. Thus does “24” travel those twin tracks, fearless in its high-stakes action while daring us to laugh at the outrageous lengths it is willing to go to keep us thrilled.

“24” RETURNS for a new season Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST on Fox. During this — the first of 24 episodes covering 24 hours of a single hectic day — counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer is right back where he belongs: In another jam to save the city of Los Angeles and environs. This time, bad guys are threatening to turn loose a highly contagious virus.

It’s 1 p.m., three years after the assassination attempt against President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) with which last season ended. Palmer is OK — well, maybe — but Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is already looking under the weather.

Further complicating Jack’s day (on “24,” everything happens at once) is daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) as usual. She now works with Dad at CTU, where she’s secretly betrothed to a handsome young colleague named Chase (newcomer James Badge Dale). As if Jack didn’t already have his hands full, Kim picks today to tell him the big news.

Goofy and exciting, “24” airs this week without commercial interruption. No wonder: There’s not a moment to lose.

Other shows to look out for:

  • Norm Macdonald stars in a new sitcom, “A Minute with Stan Hooper,” premiering 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on Fox. The former “Saturday Night Live” star plays a TV essayist who, with his wife (the sparkling Penelope Ann Miller), moves from New York to Wisconsin to be closer to the regular folks he reports on. But the locals are loco, and Macdonald milks buckets of laughs from the looniness around him (and wouldn’t you know, he’s lactose intolerant!). “Minute” may not be the cream of TV sitcoms, but it’s a step up from the usual cheese.
  • He is known as “The Godfather of Soul” and by a dozen other nicknames gathered through his long career. James Brown has growled, pumped and skittered his way into history. Now 70, Brown is celebrated by “American Masters” in a documentary portrait, “James Brown: Soul Survivor,” airing 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on PBS (check local listings).
  • Tru Davies accepts a job working the midnight shift at the city morgue. Then she discovers she can alter the events that brought these corpses to her grim attention. But replaying life isn’t as easy as it sounds. For one thing, people don’t always welcome help from a stranger who warns they’re about to die. For another, viewers may not be quick to swallow this deja-vu claptrap. And enough already, with her running through the streets to save the day! We’re repeatedly told that Tru (Eliza Dushku) used to be a track star, but that doesn’t mean she should never get winded — or even sweat. “Tru Calling” premieres 8 p.m. Thursday on Fox. But even playing it back won’t change the ending: this show is doomed to be foolish.