24: Live Another Day (2014) season 1, episodes 1 and 2
"Day 9: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m."
WRITERS: EVAN KATZ and MANNY COTO
DIRECTOR: JON CASSAR
"Day 9: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m."
WRITERS: ROBERT COCHRAN and DAVID FURY
DIRECTOR: JON CASSAR
AIR DATE: May 5 2014
It's been a few years since we've seen Kiefer Sutherland as the ferocious agent Jack Bauer. When the series 24 came to an end, Bauer was forced to go on the run, wanted by more than one government, after repeatedly saving the world (when he wasn't busy torturing or killing terrorists and other assorted baddies). When FOX announced a new limited run series entitled 24: Live Another Day, it was welcome news. 24 always dealt with worst case scenarios, office politics, and current events in unexpected ways, running through a single day over the course of a season, dedicating a single hour to an episode. It was edited in stylish ways, paving the way for other series in its wake, and drove tension up through the roof repeatedly as Jack would contend with the dark threat facing America.
This limited run series has some differences. It's a twelve episode season, with apparently some gaps in time along the way, but will still cover twenty four hours. And it takes the action outside of America and brings things to Great Britain. Filming for the season took place in and around London. Some of that involves the shadowy warehouses and back alleys we expect out of this series. Other sequences involve the streets and sites of the great city.
Jack Bauer is back in action
The new season introduces some new faces. A CIA station chief, Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt, Law And Order) is overseeing an operation to apprehend a suspect- Jack Bauer himself. He's overseeing several agents, one of whom is about to leave under a cloud of disgrace (Yvonne Strahovski) and another (Gbenga Akkinagbe) eager to push her out the door. The American President, James Heller (William Devane, reprising his role from the original series), is arriving for talks with the Prime Minister about the use of military drones. He's with his daughter Audrey (Kim Raver), once Jack's lover, now married to the Chief Of Staff (Tate Donovan). And something seems amiss about the President's cognitive abilities. The first episode sets the stage as Jack has his own agenda for getting caught, while a secondary plot involving military officers becomes a catastrophic disaster when a drone is co-opted, and things pick up in the second episode as the shadowy figure behind a new plot is revealed. Her motivation, for the moment, remains elusive.
Jack Bauer remains one of the definitive characters on television in the last twenty five years, just as 24 has been hugely influential. I was pleased to see it back, and right from the start, its signature style of profound tension is all over this new incarnation. Characters are underhanded and secretive (Donovan's Mark Boudreau seems particularly that way at present in how he's keeping the fact of Bauer's presence a secret from Heller and Audrey). A group of hackers Jack meets up with is headed by the character actor Michael Wincott, who's made a career of villainous roles, so as an audience we're wary of him to begin with. Jack is dubious of his motives, but requires the assistance of one of their number, Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), his former colleague in CTU, the abrasive computer expert who has become an anarchic hacker in the vein of Wikileaks. She and Jack are more or less at odds with each other early on, a bit of a contrast from earlier seasons in which Chloe's relationship with Jack was probably the most enduring and important to him, aside from his daughter. She's given up on any loyalties to the government, and yet there's still a loyalty to Jack, one of the world's most wanted men. The new dynamic between the two works, even as we find familiar ground. Sutherland continues to play the role as world weary and yet courageous- despite the injustices done to him, he's still putting his life on the line doing the right thing.
The writers have taken on the new limited run with a fresh look, blending in themes like the concerns over the use of drones and the question of secrecy versus information-releasing hackers that are very much real world right now. They have brought back a great character and thrown him right back into the cauldron of a very bad day. I'm already hooked in again. I look forward to what the cast and crew do with the rest of the season.