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Will '24: Live Another Day' Resurrect the Canceled Series?

By Leo Sun – Feb 4, 2014 at 7:05AM

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The Super Bowl ads for "24: Live Another Day" have whetted the appetites of 24 fans across America. But will this new limited series breathe new life into the franchise, or remind us why the show was canceled in the first place?

Throughout the Super Bowl, Fox (FOX) teased the upcoming premiere of 24: Live Another Day with a series of bite-sized, 14-second long teasers culminating in a final, 49-second trailer featuring Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) limping through a burning, chaotic street in London.

It was a brilliantly executed ad campaign that whetted the appetite of 24 fans everywhere with the nostalgic ticking of the show's iconic digital clock. 

The debut trailer for 24: Live Another Day. (Source: Fox, Youtube)

24: Live Another Day will notably not follow the real-time standard set by the eight seasons of the original show, in which viewers followed a single 24-hour cycle in a really bad day for Jack Bauer.

Each episode of the new "limited event" 12-episode series will occur in real-time, but each sequential episode will jump ahead in the day, allowing the 12 episode series to cover a complete 24-hour cycle. The show's two-hour premiere will air on May 5, 2014.

Let's take a closer look back at the history of 24 and the reasoning behind the production of this new series.

What 24 meant to Fox

The decision to cancel 24 four years ago was based on declining ratings. After peaking at 13.78 million viewers in Season 5 (2006), viewers had fallen 32% to 9.31 million by Season 8.


Premiere date

Average viewers

Season 1

Nov. 6, 2001

8.60 million

Season 2

Oct. 29, 2002

11.73 million

Season 3

Oct. 28, 2003

10.30 million

Season 4

Jan. 9, 2005

11.90 million

Season 5

Jan. 15, 2006

13.78 million

Season 6

Jan. 14, 2007

13.00 million


Nov. 23, 2008

12.12 million

Season 7

Jan. 11, 2009

12.62 million

Season 8

Jan. 17, 2010

9.31 million

Source: Wikipedia.

Rising costs per episode, demands for higher wages, and accusations that the show was right wing propaganda (due to the outspoken conservative views of executive producer Joel Surnow) also contributed to the cancellation of the show.

At the time of its cancellation, 24 was the longest-running espionage-themed TV show ever, surpassing The Avengers (6 seasons) and Mission: Impossible (7 seasons).

By the end of the eighth season, 24 had spawned video games, board games, book adaptations, comic books, toys, and even an energy drink. An official Indian version of the show premiered in October 2013. A feature film was discussed since the end of Season 8, but the project was eventually shelved.

Even though 24 had ended, it was clear that Jack Bauer's universe of constant crises would live on in the expanded universe.

What 24 meant to fans

As a fan of the original run of 24, however, I have mixed feelings about reviving or rebooting 24.

The first season of 24 was a masterpiece in storytelling. The real-time mechanic worked, the pace was realistic, and plot twists were surprising but plausible. Jack actually got tired, frustrated, and hungry between chases and fights. By the time the sun came up near the end, the viewer felt as exhausted as Jack.

The show maintained this pace fairly well until Season 5, when the writers abruptly killed off several beloved characters, including former President David Palmer and CTU agents Tony Almeida and Michelle Dessler. The season concludes with Jack taking down the ultimate series villain, the President of the United States.

Although Season 5 was the most critically acclaimed season in the series, winning 5 Emmy Awards (including Best Drama) out of 12 nominations, it was also the season in which the show jumped the shark.

The villainous President Logan. (Source: Fox)

The series should have clearly ended with Jack defeating the president, since there was no real way to top that moment.

Unfortunately, the show tried to outdo itself with increasingly ludicrous storylines. Season 6 revealed that both Jack's brother and father were traitors, and Season 7 miraculously resurrected Jack's best friend Tony Almeida as a villain.

These comic book-like twists shattered the realism that made the show so great in the first four seasons. Instead of getting tired, frustrated, and hungry, Jack took down major villains at the brisk pace of one every four hours. Characters started teleporting to any location with a constant ETA of 15 minutes.

Tony Almeida's revival as a villain. (Source: Fox)

24 limped to the end of the eighth season on that broken logic, but at least the ending was complete -- Jack had murdered a lot of people along the way, and he had to pay for his crimes. As a result, he was forced to become a fugitive, and the story came to a definitive end.

So why bring back 24?

Yet there are three reasons Fox revived 24:

  • The feature film was never released.

  • It can be used to test the waters for a potential new series or reboot.

  • Kiefer Sutherland is now available after the failure of Fox's Touch, which was cancelled after only two seasons.

Stephen Fry, Tate Donovan, Benjamin Bratt, Colin Salmon, and Yvonne Strahovski will reportedly appear in 24: Live Another Day, alongside Sutherland's former co-stars Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kim Raver, and William Devane.

What's known about the plot is that Jack remains a fugitive in London, and Strahovski (last seen as Hannah McKay in CBS (PARA 1.27%)/Showtime's Dexter) will play a CIA agent in charge of bringing him to justice.

Yvonne Strahovski (seen here in NBC's Chuck) has joined the cast of 24: Live Another Day.

In a recent interview with Vulture, Kiefer Sutherland acknowledged the show's shortcomings in the later seasons, and stated that the show will hearken back to "that very personal first season" of 24.

Personally, I hope that showrunner Howard Gordon can remind viewers just why 24 was great, before all the ludicrous comic book twists nearly ruined it.

If 24: Live Another Day is well received critically and commercially, I believe that Fox will either kick off a new series starring Sutherland in a new, non-CTU environment, or reboot the franchise with Sutherland playing a supporting role to a new leading character.

The bottom line

If the 24 limited series is successful, I believe other networks might also test the waters with limited series of previously canceled shows.

Series like Deadwood, Pushing Daisies, CSI: Miami, and Veronica Mars, all of which lacked adequate finales, could all be revived in the same fashion and possibly lead into new series.

What do you think, dear readers? Will 24: Live Another Day breathe new life into the franchise, or will it simply remind us why Jack Bauer retired in the first place?

Leo Sun has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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