JACK IS BACK!
AND SO IS CHOLE!
Yes, after a four-year absence “24,” one of the most exciting series in the history of television, made a triumphant return to the airwaves last Monday, and of course it brought with it that indestructible, iconic hero whose very name strikes paralyzing fear into the hearts of even the most hardened terrorists. Jack Bauer is on the job again, and he hasn’t lost a beat since we saw him four years ago.
Beginning on Nov. 6, 2001, and continuing through May 24, 2010, those of us who are “24” addicts became dependent upon Jack Bauer of CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) to give us our weekly fix of heart-stopping action and adventure as he worked tirelessly (Jack never sleeps.) to prevent some kind of cataclysmic disaster with worldwide consequences. During the series’ eight-season run, those of us who live in this area could count on two things from late fall to early spring each year – winter would be a bitch, and Jack would somehow save the day.
Now our hero has returned for a 12-episode series titled “24: Live Another Day,” and if the season opener is any indication, it’s going to be another thrill-packed ride with Jack. The saga appropriately picks up four years after Jack went into hiding to save his life. As the story opens, he’s living in London with the CIA hot on his trail. Chole O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), the computer whiz who was Jack’s right arm at CTU and who helped him escape the authorities, also resides in England now, but she has gone a bit off the deep end, and I’ll say no more about that.
Now here’s all you need to know to get into this series. At the same time the CIA is trying to capture Jack, President James Heller (William Devane) has arrived in London for negotiations with the British prime minister. Jack has reason to believe that Heller’s life may be danger, and because he’s Jack, he feels the obligation to protect the man even if it means coming out of hiding.
When I first heard the news that “24” was coming back, my major fear was that would never be able to establish and maintain the gut- wrenching suspense that made the original series so riveting. But trust me when I tell you even the most hard-core 24 fans will not be disappointed. The two-hour premiere literally flies by, and there’s enough action and suspense to leave you absolutely breathless. In fact the show is so intense that I recommend watching it either with a bottle of tranquilizers or a very strong drink. (I prefer the latter.)
Sutherland is a fine actor and has appeared in other roles, but he’s the sole owner of Jack Bauer in the same way that Harrison Ford will forever possess the part of Indiana Jones. Although Sutherland has aged a bit, he still maintains that gritty façade, and in one segment where he appears with no shirt, it’s obvious he has spent plenty of time at the gym because he is totally ripped. And yes, all those scars from the unspeakably horrendous torture he has endured throughout the years are still quite visible. In a recent interview with Hollie McCay of Fox News, Sutherland explained what made original series so successful and admitted his apprehension about the new show.
“The show was really current, and not because it came out around 9/11, but every season was current with politics that was happening around us at the time or things that were going to happen in the very near future. Nothing is black and white, nothing is clear cut, and Jack Bauer is that kind of character where he might save the president but he lost his wife, so there is inherent suffering that this character experiences on a heightened level. But I think that on some level, everyone feels (that suffering) every day so there is a huge relatability factor.
“For me it (returning) was physical, literally getting your endurance back. Every time you see him running two blocks down that way, I do it 16 times from this angle to that angle, and you can be doing that all day. I’m (also) cautiously optimistic, scared to death, and nervous. All of those things. We had such a beautiful run for eight years, and we had an audience who stuck with us through thick and thin. They were loyal and smart and they really supported us.”
In addition to Jack, the other mainstay in the original series was Chloe O’Brian, the perpetually scowling systems analyst nonpareil who constantly had Jack’s back. No matter what the situation, Jack could always trust Chloe. But in this series we see a different Chloe as Rajskub told Fox reporter McCay.
“My character is nuts. She’s anti-government, personally raw and messed up down the tubes. Now working outside the government, and is broken. I’m buried, leaking information about the U.S. government, doing very coy-like things. I used to be all about doing the right thing, and in episode two Jack and I come face-to-face, and we do not see eye-to-eye, and have words. And yeah, it is going to be exciting.”
Kim Raver, another veteran of the original series, returns to reprise her role as Audrey Heller, whose father is now the president of the United States. Audrey and Jack have quite a history, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out in this show.
A welcome addition to the cast is the stunning Yvonne Strahovski, who plays the irrepressible CIA agent Kate Morgan. She was superb in the premiere, and you may remember her as Hannah McKay, the icily composed serial killer who became Dexter Morgan’s soul mate in “Dexter.”
Now please keep one very important thing in mind. If you have not seen any of the previous seasons of “24,” don’t let that deter you from watching this one because it’s a completely new adventure and challenge for Jack. Of course, I’m betting once you’re hooked on this show, you will go back and catch all previous eight seasons. Yes it is that good. And Jack is one of best fictional characters ever created.
Because “24: Live Another Day” is only 12 episodes, we will subtract 12 from 24 leaving us with 12, and from that we will subtract two because I wanted the show to last longer than it will. And that leaves us with the final score for the series of an inevitable 10. In a press release announcing the new series, executive producer Howard Gordon summed up Jack’s return beautifully.
“Jack Bauer has always been an exciting, thrilling character, and I confess that I’ve missed him. I think the audience has too. The character has evolved through the years, and this new and exciting event series format is perfect to tell the next chapter of his story and continue to reflect how the world is changing. Fans can rest assured that the Jack they know and love will be back.”
Amen, Howard! And thank you!