Kiefer Sutherland has confirmed he will not be doing another series of 24 and would like to pass his tough, terrorist fighting torch to another actor so the franchise can continue from a fresh perspective. The series ran from 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks that gave it relevance to the real world struggles of the time. It concluded in 2010 having won eight Emmy Awards during its span and returned in 2014 for a short series.
24 differentiated itself from other crime fighting series with its unique ‘real time’ concept. The 24-episode series would each take place over one 24-hour period in the life of iconic Jack Bauer, a damaged but incredibly skilled government agent whose sense of duty and rebellious methods make him the best man for the job when America is threatened.
Bauer is willing to offer his life in exchange for the citizens that will never know his bravery, but it is his personal sacrifice and tragedy that truly shape him as his job causes the death of his wife, loss of his daughter and pain over the fatal ‘Sophie’s choice’ style decisions he must make for his country. After eight hellish days (seasons), a TV movie special and a final 12-hour revisit series, Jack Bauer has finally hung up his hat. Considering we last saw him apprehended by the Russians to be punished for an embassy siege, he’s not exactly in any position to save the day now anyway. After the final series Live Another Day was only mildly received, it does not look likely that Jack will be back for another installment.
Sutherland however has given his blessing for the franchise to continue with a new cast and concept. Speaking to Deadline‘s Dominic Pattern, he said: “I’m not coming back to do 24 because there are other things I want to do. And when they said limited series run, I meant it. But I’ve always felt, from season one on, that 24 is such a great idea that this can go on forever. I think if you create a new cast or other characters in the telling of this story, it will bring a freshness. And let’s face it, there’s only so many bad days one can have before the show becomes a mad comic. And what I don’t want it to be is a mad comic… it doesn’t rule out to one having a cameo“.
Considering the success of 24 was essentially due to the captivating struggles of its complex main character, I question whether fresh blood could revive the series with the same quality. The makers are masters of action sequences, creating suspense and shocking their audience with unexpected twists but some of the very best moments in 24 came from Sutherland and his capacity to convey the inner turmoil and immense suffering, Bauer must deal with caused by the trauma of the events he faces. This personal agony simmers under the mask of our hero so the glimpses of this agony are heart wrenchingly poignant.
To compare to this effective undercurrent in characterization that flavored and provided depth to the series, actors of Sutherland’s caliber must be found. Fox are apparently in discussion with Manny Coto and Evan Katz (Live Another Day) to redevelop 24 with a younger male hero working with a seasoned female agent and it will be very interesting to see who could be cast, could the series attract another film A-lister looking to do a quality television project? Can the greatness of 24 be followed without our beloved protagonist? Only time will tell.