A new day, but basically the same story for ‘24’

  • By Rick Bentley The Fresno Bee
  • Thursday, May 1, 2014 6:03pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

It will be approximately 2 million “tick … tick … ticks” of the clock between when Jack Bauer’s last world-saving events of “24” ended and the start of a new adventure with “24: Live Another Day.”

But after almost four years, little has changed.

The steely-eyed way Kiefer Sutherland plays Bauer and the complicated story lines of spy vs. spy are still there. The action has shifted to London, and instead of the season running 24 one-hour episodes, it will only be 12 two-hour episodes. But everything else is pure high-octane Bauer.

This isn’t a kinder, gentler Bauer on the verge of retirement. As “24: Live Another Day” begins, Bauer faces an impossible mission: breaking into an ultra-secure government facility. Nothing can stop him, from high-tech security systems to determined agents like Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski). His efforts are important to unlocking a plot to assassinate President James Heller (William Devane) while he’s on British soil.

It’s obvious Bauer hasn’t been sitting around the past few years waiting for Social Security to kick in. The series ended with Bauer a fugitive. But the big question is whether he’s on this new mission to save the world on his own or working for a larger group.

Talking about the plot —except in very general terms — is hard without giving away spoilers. Plus, any “24” script is so wickedly woven that it really isn’t clear who the bad and good guys are until many hours into the season.

It’s safe to say “24” works so well because Sutherland has found the right mixture of patriot, renegade, humanitarian and rebel. All it takes is one look from him to know that what seems like the end of his days is just another super hurdle to climb. Sutherland claims the series would work without Jack Bauer because the structure is what keeps fans watching, but that’s absurd. A “24” without Bauer would be like a “Rambo” movie without Sylvester Stallone or a “Die Hard” without Bruce Willis.

But he is right about the show’s strong structure. The use of split and multiple screens not only makes it easier to relay more information in a small amount of time, but it creates a sense of tension as the story bounces from character to character. A standard cop show edit would never work.

The solid writing will benefit from there being only half the usual number of episodes. There were times in the 24-hour seasons that the writers struggled to fill some of the middle episodes — such as the unforgettable situation in season two where Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) faced down a mountain lion.

It helps that along with the new cast of villains, could-be-villains and probable heroes are some familiar faces, including Heller and Audrey Raines (Kim Raver). They are good conduits to connect Bauer between his old life and new role as vigilante savior.

It’s been awhile — really too long — since Bauer has saved TV at least one day a week with his reluctant hero antics. Even if he’s only back for half the time, the series is still twice as good as most of the action shows on network and cable television.

Jack’s back

“24: Live Another Day,” premieres at 8 p.m. Monday on Fox

&Copy;2014 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

Visit The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.) at www.fresnobee.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

More in Life

‘Found’: Author and climber a 20-year veteran of mountain rescue

In her second book, Bree Loewen shares her experiences of volunteering with Seattle Mountain Rescue.

Secret garden: Privacy trees that won’t outgrow a small space

These plants offer some height to block out unwanted sights without taking over your yard.

Stock your winter bookshelf with these animal and nature reads

Four new books cover outdoors topics from butterflies to wolves.

The Shed Players recently released their new album “Our Shingle Most Favorites.”
Listen here: Josh Clauson, The Shed Players release new CDs

This feature is all about Snohomish County’s homegrown talent: locals who make music and record it.

Newfangled cooker isn’t for those with tried and true methods

Columnist Jennifer Bardsley recently succumbed to peer pressure and purchased an Instant Pot.

Now is the time to assess your student’s back-to-school plan

Take a good look at how your kids are managing their new routine, class, teacher(s) and homework.

Author’s talk of birds and clouds kicks off Marysville series

1. Birds and clouds Marysville’s Outdoor Adventure Speakers Series is kicking into… Continue reading

How to shop in the street markets of France

It’s the best way to connect with the nation’s farmers and artisans.

Oprah Winfrey joins ‘60 Minutes’ for 50th anniversary year

The media giant debuts on tonight’s show, reporting on a story about America’s political divisions.

Most Read