Jack is back! '24: Live Another Day' doesn't disappoint

Kiefer Sutherland filming

Kiefer Sutherland filming "24: Live Another Day" in London. (WENN.COM)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:38 PM ET

Absence makes the heart beat faster.

Is that the way the old saying goes? Maybe I have it twisted up a little bit.

Point being, 24 is back. And while it had reached the stage where I wasn’t all that chagrined when it departed four years ago, TV — I guess, specifically, network TV — certainly can use the shot of adrenaline that the return of Jack Bauer will provide.

The full title is 24: Live Another Day, and it debuts Monday with two hours of action on Fox and Global. Unlike the previous eight seasons of 24, which aired from 2001 to 2010, this new season will consist of only 12 hours, told in “real time,” which always has been the format of the series.

Notably, 24: Live Another Day is set largely in London, England. That gives the proceedings a new look and a bit of a new feel, while maintaining the tension and breakneck speed that fans have come to expect.

Just my opinion, I know some will disagree, but 24 had become somewhat tiresome and repetitive toward the end of its original run. I think in this case a four-year absence will wind up being a good thing.

Having seen the first two hours of 24: Live Another Day, I found myself glad to be worrying about Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer again. The constant peril, of which Jack is both the victim and the instigator, seemed kind of fresh. I was numbed to it previously, but I suppose that can happen with any action-based series that is lucky enough to last multiple seasons. With most of those shows, it occurs a lot faster.

This is not to suggest, however, that this all was part of a grand plan on behalf of the makers of 24.

When the series wrapped up in 2010, everyone was talking about making a feature film. I have to say as a side comment, this always has been a strange trend, but never more so than now, in the so-called second golden age of TV.

If it feels as if a TV series has run its course, why would it be logical immediately to pour money into making a movie? How is it assured that the fans who stopped watching you on TV suddenly will flock to a movie theatre, paying some ridiculous price to watch the ads they can see on TV while lippy 13-year-olds throw popcorn around the room? It’s just weird to me.

Anyway, the 24 movie hasn’t happened. I believe back in 2010, you could have received really attractive odds if you had wanted to bet that 24 would come back to TV before it hit the big screen. People would have lined up to take your money, but you’d be having the last laugh today.

Be that as it may, Jack Bauer doesn’t do much laughing in 24: Live Another Day. When did he ever? He’s not exactly Mr. Sunshine. That’s not what 24 is about.

The basics of the new story are that Jack, branded as a traitor and a terrorist by the government of his beloved United States of America, has been in exile for four years. But suddenly, with United States President James Heller (William Devane) visiting London, Jack re-emerges.

The thing is, a guy like Jack doesn’t re-emerge by accident. President Heller is in London, so Jack’s presence surely can’t be a coincidence. Is Jack there to harm the president?

That’s the question facing CIA head Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt), CIA agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski), the president’s chief of staff Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan) and Jack’s former flame Audrey, the president’s daughter who now also is Boudreau’s wife.

And what would 24 be without Jack’s traditional ally Chloe O’Brian? Played by Mary Lynn Rajskub, Chloe has not exactly had an easy time of it over the past four years, either. When Jack and Chloe first encounter each other in 24: Live Another Day, it’s in extreme circumstances, and they certainly have significant trust issues at this stage of their relationship.

Jack Bauer became something of a political lightning rod, especially in the U.S., merely because of the times in which the original 24 existed.

It debuted mere months after 9/11, and while Jack was seen by many as an American hero who always was trying to do the right thing (or, at least, the right thing in his own mind), others saw his willingness to “do whatever it takes” as representative of darker policies, such as torturing prisoners for information, etc.

That’s another reason, perhaps, that the four-year absence will be good for 24, as a show. Because that’s what it is, after all, a TV show. Utilizing the breathing room that occurred, 24: Live Another Day draws upon some newer controversies in the world and utilizes them to drive the plot. Not that the old issues are swept under the rug, but the new 24 doesn’t feel locked, or trapped, or retro. It exists today, with the tensions and technologies of 2014.

So for fans of who stayed loyal and engaged all the way through, I don’t think 24: Live Another Day will disappoint you. And if you’re someone who watched 24 for a number of years but just kind of drifted away because it felt as if you were watching the same day over and over again, this is an opportunity to start clock-watching again.

Sometimes you have to quit something for a while to realize that you actually miss it. That’s what both sides need to get Jacked up.

That Jack Bauer is a busy boy. Here, in broad strokes, is what he has faced over the course of 24:

Season 1: Jack must protect Senator David Palmer from an assassination plot.

Season 2: Jack must stop a nuclear bomb from detonating in L.A.

Season 3: Jack must seize a deadly virus being marketed underground.

Season 4: Jack must save Secretary of Defence James Heller and his daughter Audrey Raines.

Season 5: Jack is framed by terrorists with connections to the U.S. government.

Season 6: Terrorists angry at Jack plan to set off suitcase nuclear devices.

24: Redemption: Jack is caught up in a military coup in Africa. (This made-for-TV movie bridged the gap created by the writers’ strike)

Season 7: Jack is needed when the federal computer firewall is breached.

Season 8: Jack must thwart a Russian plot to assassinate an Islamic leader.

24: Live Another Day: After four years in hiding, Jack resurfaces in London, England.

 


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