When hit TV show 24 first graced our TV screens back in 2001 with its premise of delivering a real-time action experience, it received rave reviews and was hailed as a unique and ground-breaking show. But towards the end of its final series, it felt like it has perhaps outstayed it welcome. However, it retains a huge cult following and is therefore ripe for some kind of spin-off or reboot.
In fact, series producers Fox have decided to go down the spin-off root, this time with a female protagonist. The direction also appears to have changed with the lead character swapping the secretive underground bunkers of CTA for the more mundane setting of a prosecutor’s office. A script is already in the pipeline with The Killing’s considerably talented Jeremy Doner in charge of the writing.
As expected, the new legal setting will herald a different approach to the show, so expect conspiracies, courtrooms and bureaucratic wrangling as well as the usual clock-ticking tension that has become synonymous with the format. There have also been suggestions that the show will enter a new world and feature different characters in each subsequent series, in the same way that True Detective attempted with varying degrees of success in series 1 and 2.
It is clear that the producers feel there is plenty of life left in the 24 format yet and why not, as the show has become a cult phenomenon spawning a whole host of merchandise including action figures, energy drinks, fragrance (yes, you can smell like Jack Bauer), mugs and magazines. There is even a 24-themed video slots game available on Betsafe, featuring music, characters and cut-scenes from the franchise. What’s more, entire websites are dedicated to Jack Bauer quotes for those who feel the need to imitate their hero.
But where does that leave Jack Bauer? Last year’s 24:Legacy starring Corey Hawkins did not make it beyond season one due to poor ratings and it is now nearly four years since Kiefer Sutherland appeared in 24: Live Another Day. The star has not ruled out a return and the producers must have been tempted to at least squeeze in a small cameo for America’s favourite rogue agent.
Maybe the “will he or won’t he” question will not be answered until the series airs next year. However, that would seem like a cynical attempt to boost ratings for a new format that is hoping to stand on its own two feet.
One thing that will not change is the ticking clock that added so much atmosphere and tension to the show, particularly in the early days. And with the right team on board, there is no reason why the new incarnation cannot be a success. In the meantime, fans will have to wait to see who get the nod in the lead role, while catching up on their box sets of seasons 1-8. Damn it, Chloe!