May 5, 2014

THE SKED Series Premiere Review: “24: Live Another Day”


24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY:  Monday 9PM on FOX – DVR Alert

Jack Bauer didn’t speak until 40 minutes into the first hour of tonight’s 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY premiere.  It’s not that he wasn’t around:  he had a fight scene, a chase, and some interrogation sequences during that span.  He just didn’t say anything.  It was an audacious, old-Hollywood move (the story goes that Steve McQueen used to routinely pull the dialogue out of his scripts, because he knew the less he said the more powerful his character would be), and an indication of how well the people behind 24, who are almost all back for this reboot, know their property.  There have been pretenders to the 24 style during these hiatus years (Crisis, Hostages, The Following) but none of them have worked it as well.

There’s not much mystery as to why 24 is back, a mere 4 years after it left FOX’s air:  both the network and star Kiefer Sutherland have hit tough times since that clock stopped ticking.  (Including together, when they combined for the ill-fated Touch.)  They could use a bit of the old magic.  This time, the show is a “limited event,” which means that despite the title, the day in question will run only 12 hours (and episodes), which one hopes will reduce the desperation 24 used to routinely evidence by midway through its season as it frantically tried to fill its hours with increasingly silly reversals and reveals.

Not that the silliness is entirely gone–it’s an integral part of the 24 formula.  The initial 2 hours (Hour 1 written by Executive Producers Manny Coto and Evan Katz, Hour 2 by EPs Robert Cochran and David Fury, both halves directed by Jon Cassar–all of them 24 veterans), which aired as a back-to-back block tonight, faithfully reproduced the show’s rapid pace, declamatory dialogue and general stone-faced nuttiness.  The first hour was particularly effective, presenting Jack initially as a fugitive being tracked down and captured by the CIA’s bureau in London, as only disgraced agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski, less glam than in her former government agent job on Chuck) realized that this was all Jack’s con, and that he wanted into the CIA’s offices because they shared space with the blacker US intelligence group that was holding Chloe O’Brian (Mary-Lynn Rajskub), now an unfortunately eye-linered member of a WikiLeaks-type hacker organization, for “enhanced interrogation”.  This being 24, though, that was almost instantly revealed to be another pretext, as Jack was really tracking an ex-member of Chloe’s group who’d invented a McGuffin that could take over control of government drones, for use in this case at the behest of evil millionairess Margo al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley, of Game of Thrones), in assassinating the US President (William Devane), who by the way is both father of Jack’s former love Audrey (Kim Raver)–now married to the President’s shifty Chief of Staff (Tate Donovan)–and suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Whatever.  There are doubtless 10 hours of ” hey, wait a minute…” twists and impossible action sequences ahead, all of which Jack Bauer will survive with a scowl and not much more than a paper cut.  (I left out the evil millionairess’s daughter, pretending to be a European slut until she plunged an icepick into her boyfriend’s ear while he had his literal dick in his hand.)  The point is that it all still works, split-screens, real time (minus commercials), Exasperated Jack Bauer, dim-witted government supervisors and all.  A steady diet of 24 would be too much–when it went off the air in 2010, the consensus was that it had properly reached its end–but 4 years later, a slimmed-down version could be quite enjoyable.  And considering that its final episodes–again, just 4 years ago–had double the ratings that The Following maintained this season, Jack Bauer’s real rescue may be of FOX.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."