IIn two months, 24 will turn 20. This presents the world with two options. The former is an opportunity for cloudy-eyed flashbacks and an excuse for viewers to rewatch the first season. The chance to rediscover Jack Bauer’s first and most devastating plummet from a kind-hearted family man to a state-licensed killing machine. And maybe some additional context; to remind viewers how integral 24 was to the golden age of television, or how its debut adjacent to 9/11 captured the public’s taste for blood.
The second option is to do more 24, which is a terrible idea. Even during its initial run, 24 became too dumb for its own good. The characters were turned off and revived without any real thought or care. The stories went crazy; a nuclear bomb exploded in a city one morning and he forgot about it at lunchtime; Jack Bauer beat heroin addiction in approximately 90 minutes. Subsequent efforts to revive the show – the season set in a London cartoon approximation, the season that didn’t feature Jack Bauer at all – only saw 24 become less and less vital. Surely everyone knows that doing more than 24 would be a huge waste of time.
Or maybe not all, since Deadline reports that Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn is eager for a revival. “There is still a possibility,” he said. “There [are] some active creative discussions going on. “
This lines up with comments from 24’s executive producer Howard Gordon, who said that new ideas for 24 “always leaked out.” So we should probably assume that 24 will be back on TV. The question is in what form.
24: Legacy was canceled after just one season in 2017, possibly because it didn’t have a strong enough identity. It was a full steam ahead and fiery season in which Kiefer Sutherland was replaced by Eric Carter, played by Corey Hawkins. But Carter was no different at all, he often felt as if the writers had looked up and replaced the word “Jack” seconds before handing in the scripts, and he ran into trouble as a result. So hopefully another silly reboot is out of the question.
Two ideas are mentioned in the Deadline article that won’t make it to the screen. One, a prequel that traces the origin story of Jack Bauer, is probably best left for dead. Not only are the prequels quite tacky as a form, they would require Jack Bauer recasting and I don’t think viewers will accept that. As the 2017 series demonstrated, 24 is nothing without Sutherland.
Plus, the series would have to follow Bauer’s long and brutal military career, and that probably means ditching the real-time format. If you’ve ever watched the 2008 TV movie 24: Redemption, where Jack Bauer basically saves Africa, then you know this is a bad idea. Without a clock to drive the narrative, Redemption became intolerably generic. All the urgency was gone. It was like a Chuck Norris movie.
A better idea, though still discarded, was the idea of reinventing 24 as a real-time legal thriller. Actually, this seems like it has some potential. We’d get all the tension of a real-time drama without any of the sad tropes (the smooth perimeters, the supporting characters in distress, the truth serum) that often stifled the previous version.
This new approach also sounds sustainable. It sounds like an anthology series, capable of rebooting and recasting with each new iteration. Even in the second season of 24, you started to get the impression that Bauer must have supernatural bad luck to have to relive his worst day again. A fresh start like this could give the old dog some life.
Of course, the wisest idea of them all would be to not do more. I don’t mean it lightly. I love 24 more than most. The first season deserves to be remembered as one of the most important television shows ever made. Bauer’s other seasons, even the dumbest ones, retained a brutal propulsion charm. I’d even stick with the heroic stupid London season if the time came.
But enough is enough. Hate to say it, but they spend 24. Instead of digging it up and forcing it back to life, let’s remember the good times. Jack Bauer chopping off a man’s head. Jack Bauer cutting off his daughter’s boyfriend’s hand. Jack Bauer murders his boss without even a moment of introspection. In truth, these were the good times. Please, Fox, don’t stain perfection.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism