For 8 seasons, or roughly 192 episodes and a TV movie, Kiefer Sutherland portrayed ultimate badass 'Jack Bauer' on Fox's 24.
The show ended its epic run in 2009 and now, given the sad state of affairs on network television, it’s coming back. Kiefer has agreed to reprise the role for a 12-episode run titled 24: Live Another Day, and slated to air in May of next year. The show will still function on a real time, 24-hour scale, but the audience will only see 12 of those hours, and not necessarily consecutive. This change should pay dividends as the story can remain more focused and not have to go through the whole mid-season villain change that fans grew so accustomed to.
When we last saw Jack he was near friendless, on the run from the law, and absent all the protection once afforded to him by America’s greatest President ever – David Palmer…
When we see Jack again there is no word if he’ll be joined by Chloe or Kim, though knowing him he’ll probably still be in hiding, not wanting to endanger the people in his life and undoubtedly avoiding his would-be apprehenders with little effort. The hope is that, given the five years between the end of the season 8 and the return of the show, the writers will have had plenty of time to come up with a worthwhile story. 24 fans rejoice with that hope in hand, but what does this mean for Fox and the other networks?
Long gone are the days where the public was made to accept ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX as the best there was to offer on their television screen. Regular discussions about the best shows on TV seldom include the once great powerhouse networks, whose call letters are now replaced by HBO, AMC, and FX. And while this development isn’t new, it is finally starting to show in the ratings. For the first time ever, NBC actually finished behind Univision in ratings for February. That is a major sign that the power and allure of the networks isn’t what it used to be. We’ve seen changes being made as of late that reflect the networks starting to notice the trend. Fox’s The Following with Kevin Bacon, which has been modestly successful, is set up like a cable drama with only 15 episodes rather than the usual 22-24 that a network show would normally flesh out. This allows for more focus on the main plot with less time spent trying to fill superfluous screen time. So now the hope is that by bringing back a proven commodity like Jack Bauer, and using the shortened cable structure, Fox can re-spark interest from people who have all but abandoned the networks in favor of shows more like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, which are driven by writing and characters, and aren’t subject the the networks classic “ultra safe – offend no one” attitude.
The networks still obviously pull in more viewers than the cable channels, but things are trending away from that, and eventually the archaic cookie-cutter structure and attitude of the network shows that inspire so little brain activity from the viewer will become stale. The average ratings for many of the scripted shows on the big networks are only a fraction of what they received in those same time slots 10 or 15 years ago. So now we see some desperation as Fox revives one of its most popular characters ever. In the long run though, the Big 4 getting competition from the cable networks can only be good news as they will be forced to improve the quality of their product.
Anyhow, Jack is back and for now that is all that matters.