24 was a flagship show for FOX for nearly a decade. It featured the central character of Jack Bauer, an anti-terrorism task-force leader who found himself plunged into a terrorist conspiracy and for which he only had the titular amount of hours to unravel the plot. Each of the episodes was essentially told in real-time, with the twenty-four episodes adding up to one bad day for Bauer and his family and colleagues. It debuted mere weeks after the tragedies of 9/11 and undoubtedly caught the mood of the American public.
The show continued, escalating the terror threats, bringing in wider conspiracies and regularly killing off some of its main supporting characters (including Presidents) in ruthless ways over more than eight seasons. Jack would regularly go from determined leader to outlier, from fugitive to hero and he somehow managed to survive a whole range of terrible injuries that would have killed a lesser action hero. Though most of the series stories took place in Los Angeles (with forays into Washington DC for some of the more political wheeling and dealing), the series also reached out to other territories. As the Writers’ Strike delayed Season 7, Jack headed to South Africa for the 2008 mini-series 24: Redemption and after two more full seasons, London felt the brute force of a ‘Union Jack’ Bauer in another mini-series 24: Live Another Day in 2014.
With Jack in the hands of Russian agents and his fate left somewhat vague at the end of the Live Another Day entry, Fox rebooted the entire concept with 2017’s 24: Legacy and a new character Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) an ex-Army ranger trying to stop another atrocity after his team is killed by terrorists in retribution for a Middle east mission. It was set three years after the mini-series (which raises the question of what year it is actually supposed to be taking place in) and followed the format of the show, showing events in real time, but ran for twelve episodes with a time-jump in the finale. The ratings were not as big as hoped and the show did not go to a new season.
Now FOX have announced their latest plans for the franchise and they will be returning to the character of Jack Bauer, but perhaps not with Kiefer Sutherland. Perhaps noting the success of the Jack Ryan concept and the recent adaptation of the book/film Condor, the plan is to have a 24 prequel, showing the earlier days of the character and how a more naïve and by-the-book agent became the all-action hero we know and love. Sutherland is in good shape, but if the story is set pre-2001, it would seem unlikely that he could pass for someone twenty years younger. However executive showrunner Howard Gordon is currently working with co-creators Joel Surnow and Bob Cochran on the concept and all three have a vested interest in – and first-hand knowledge of – the 24 mythology.
There is no start date for the project or news of casting, but