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Television

'Battlestar Galactica's' Starbuck on '24' team?

Maureen Ryan
Chicago Tribune (MCT)

Fox has made official the news that Entertainment Weekly broke on Monday: Katee Sackhoff, who's best known for playing Kara "Starbuck" Thrace on "Battlestar Galactica," is joining the cast of "24."

When the Fox thriller returns, Sackhoff will play data analyst Dana Walsh, who works at the brand new CounterTerrorism Unit (CTU) in New York City. According to the EW story, her character will be involved with Cole Ortiz, the field operations leader played by Freddie Prinze Jr.

Other cast members of the show's eighth season, which kicks off Jan. 17, include Mykelti Williamson, John Boyd, Chris Diamantopoulos and Jennifer Westfeldt. Returning cast members include Cherry Jones (as President Allison Taylor), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe) and Annie Wersching (Renee Walker). "Slumdog Millionaire" star Anil Kapoor will make his American television debut as a Middle Eastern leader in the U.S. on a peace mission.

Those are the facts. Now for my opinions.

In this uncertain environment, it's not a bad thing for an actor to have a steady gig like this. (Someone on my Twitter feed joked about being happy for all of Sunday's Tony winners but predicted we'd see most of them as supporting characters on police procedurals soon.) But I must pronounce myself a little wary of seeing Sackhoff on "24." And as a "data analyst"? And her character is involved with Freddie Prinze Jr.?

This is Starbuck we're talking about!

I hope the role gives Sackhoff a chance to explore what she's capable of. Sackhoff had the role of a lifetime as the headstrong fighter pilot on "Battlestar Galactica," and I can't help but wonder if the "24" part will be a particularly limited role.

Not that there haven't been memorable supporting characters on "24," but, in the final analysis, the show is mostly about Kiefer Sutherland's character, Jack Bauer. And even for him, action and tension usually take priority over emotional developments.

If, in Season 8, we see Sackhoff sitting behind a computer terminal, barking out computer-related gibberish and sparring with other tech nerds such as Chloe, I'll be disappointed.

For all I know, they've got a brilliant, challenging, emotionally gut-wrenching arc planned for Sackhoff's character. I hope so.

Because this is Starbuck we're talking about!

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