24: Live Another Day wishlist

Rob tots up his wishlist for 24's small screen return in next year's 24: Live Another Day (beginning with that title...)

Jack’s coming back and it’s exciting news for all 24 fans. It gives us another chance to spend time with a character that escalated action TV into a thought-provoking, controversial programme that revelled in its no-holds-barred approach to resolving plots, tapping into society’s concerns surrounding surveillance, terrorism, rendition, interrogation and patriotism.

Unfortunately it was the stagnation of those plots that marred the later seasons, despite some stand out episodes (the seventh season pseudo two-parter of the White House takedown had it all – action, sacrifice, drama and the great Glenn Morshower). So with FOX announcing a stand-alone season of 24 to air next May, there is some trepidation that the fall in quality might continue. We already know that there will be changes, out goes the 24 hour format, to be replaced by twelve hour long episodes that will still cover  what we hope to be an eventful day, but just without the ‘filler’. Here’s my wish list for what we would like to see (or not…) in 24: Live Another Day.

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Relevance

24 was a show whose immediate popularity likely owed something to its society tapping themes that centred on the balancing of civil liberties with the faceless threat of terrorism and conspiracy. Those themes are still as relevant today and no doubt the new season will incorporate moments of moral dubiousness as well as ‘for the greater good’ dichotomy’s that will prompt debate – and much shouting. However, 2013 is not 2001, the world faces new and old threats and it would be good to see 24 reflect these issues in an intelligent – but entertaining way.   

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Freshness

Jack Bauer in 24

 

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24 has certain elements that make it, well, 24. Conspiracies – tick, torture – tick, Jack against insurmountable odds – tick, that’s what 24 is. All these elements revolve around what Jack is – a former/part-time/full-time CTU agent, so the plotting is necessarily constrained. However, eight seasons on and I for one would like to see Jack take on something else, move away from the CTU angle, become something else. The new season apparently takes place several years after the last season, and Jack could be anywhere, doing anything (in that time the Russian and Americans may have forgiven him for ruining plans and collapsing presidencies) so it would be slightly disappointing if we find him right back where we left him. That story has been done, time to move on. The 24 movie was rumoured to take place outside of the US – maybe a foreign adventure could bring something new (although no fish out of water humour allowed, this isn’t 24: Rush Hour)?

No more Super-Jack

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One aspect that got old pretty fast was that Jack bounced back remarkably quickly from some horrendous injuries in the later seasons, which included, stabbings, electrocution, shootings, poisoning and even death. It got to the point where Jack no longer had any air of vulnerability – both mentally and physically. I realise that I may seem hypocritical to criticise a show over its unrealistic super-hero treatment of its star when its plots were increasing fantastical – but it takes away from the tension of the earlier seasons which went to great pains to show the impact of each day.  

Dead friends

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Please do not bring anyone back from the dead – yes Tony Almeida, we’re all looking at you. Tony’s resurrection in 24’s seventh season was for many the nadir of 24’s plots. I wouldn’t be surprised if some old faces didn’t turn up, but the reintroduction of  long lost and importantly, dead, friends just undermines the value of their deaths and smacks of creative laziness. The new series should generate sufficient interest without the need for character resurrection – so hopefully they’ll leave the dead well alone.

Logan’s alive!

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Having just warned about the creative miss-step of returning from the dead – it’s the right time to remember that former President Logan is not dead. What’s that you say – he shot himself in the head at the end of the last series? Yes – but in a throw-away line it was revealed he hasn’t died, but survived with possible brain damage (see earlier comments about the decline in quality of the later seasons…). So, everyone’s favourite git of a President is alive and, considering his involvement in Jack’s dire situation at the end of the series, must be worthy of at least a cameo? For those is an argumentative mood, you may point to my wish for freshness in the show and disagree that Logan’s return would be anything other than a thematic nudge and a wink. Before those knives leave their sheaths, I would like to point out one thing. People like good bastards. They’re unpredictable, tension inducing and very entertaining. Logan was a great bastard and villain – his involvement in, perhaps a lesser capacity, would bring continuity and someone we can definitely root for Jack to torture. Unless of course he is brain damaged, then it’s just awkward.

Chloe

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We now know that Jack’s co-worker, sometime guardian angel and social hand grenade, Chloe O’Brian, is indeed making a return to the series, which is one TV prayer answered. Mary Lynn Rajskub typically stole most episodes with her aggressive, blunt and just downright rude interaction with her colleagues. Elevated to acting Director of CTU, it would seem an almost too obvious route for the show runners to install her as Director CTU. However, with Jack on the run from the US (if that hasn’t been resolved in the hiatus) it could set her up nicely in opposition and lead to the moral conundrums and self-questioning of integrity that makes 24 what it is.

No filler

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With a revamped format based on estimates that there are twelve hours of ‘core’ action in a 24 season, indications are that filler episodes have gone. This will of course be music to many fans ears. Whereas 24’s main plots were always explosive, the sub-plots were pretty atrocious. Don’t believe me? See season two episode eleven (6 – 7pm), the infamous Kim V Cougar episode or indeed pretty much any episode where Kim has a presence. 

A new title

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Live Another Day is pretty bad. Actually it’s horrible. Replacement suggestions welcome below!

24: Live Another Day is due to air on Fox next spring. Read Rob’s list of the top ten 24 episodes, here.

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