In just a few short days, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) makes his triumphant return to the small screen in 24: Live Another Day. This limited series is set four years after the 24 series finale, as we find Jack in London, a fugitive from justice. He surfaces to stop an assassination attempt against President Heller (William Devane), while reuniting with his former CTU partner Chloe O'Brian. And the series brings back other 24 regulars such as Kim Raver (Audrey Raines).
Also returning are 24 producers Evan Katz and Manny Coto, who recently held a conference call to discuss bringing this cast back together, the advantages of a 12-episode limited run, why they decided to bring the story to London and much more, before the series debuts Monday, May 5 with a two-hour premiere at 8 PM ET.
When 24 went off the air in 2010, many fans hoped it would be back in some incarnation, which was originally set to be a movie at one point before this limited series came together. Evan Katz spoke about bringing the cast together four years later, and why they all wanted to come back, while teasing a mysterious aspect to William Devane's President Heller.
"I think that Kiefer wanted to make sure that he understood where the character had been and somewhere interesting to go with the character when we sat with hie m. And for Bill Devane the same was true. We're doing something interesting with his character we don't want to reveal. He's president, but there's another big issue he's wrestling with. And the same for Kim Raver and Mary Lynn. Mary Lynn's character has had quite a radical journey, which over the first three episodes becomes clear. For Kim Raver, the last time we saw her, she was catatonic. So, of course, she came in and we chatted with her about what she had been through."
One of the biggest changes is the shift from a 24 episodes to 12 episodes, which Evan Katz revealed was done in response to the viewing habits of modern audiences.
"I think that in terms of an ability to platform something special - I think in 24's case, where people's viewing habits have changed, asking people to devote 24 consecutive weeks to a highly serialized show, you know, maybe is a bigger ask than it was 10 years ago. So I think one advantage in this case is I think it's more inviting. I also think it is more special. It's not going to happen all the time; it's not taking place over a year. This is a chunk of time. And it gives the network the opportunity to put more oomph behind its launch."
24 was also well-known for tapping into the current political climate. Manny Coto revealed that they looked into several elements to use in this new story, such as the use of drones and government spying on its citizens.
"There were a number of political developments over the years that we seized upon when we started conceiving the season. Things that were in the zeitgeist, things that were talked about, that we felt could lead us to a really interesting, possible villain and character for the season. That is the whole idea of government spying on its citizens and the technology and consequently individuals who appear who are trying to fight that and to counter that level. So it led us to a fascinating character in the season who is doing just that. And it also gave us an idea for what to do with Chloe O'Brian. See, she is someone, like Jack, who has turned against the government. Jack is a man of action, so when he turns against the government, he goes, you know, in a different direction. Chloe, someone who lives behind the keyboard, how does she get 'revenge?' Well, she goes the Edward Snowden route. So it opened up some interesting possibilities for the Chloe character. And also the idea of drones, which have become larger in the military landscape since the show was on. I think we featured a drone on one season in the first eight years. But, at that time, the drones were kind of smaller and flimsier and didn't look particularly menacing. Now, the drones that are in reality and are in operation now and some that are on the drawing board are large, menacing things from the sky that can blow up entire buildings. We wanted the show to have a flavor of its old self, but also to take into account the changes that have gone on."
Evan Katz also spoke about the decision to bring the story to London, which was a continuation of Season 8's story.
"You know, Jack is put into exile at the end of Season 8, so I think that initially gave us the idea that, you know, sure, we could start him back here, but wouldn't it be great for him to still be in exile? And I think it was also an opportunity - we'd been in L.A. for the show's run, even though we sometimes set in other cities, to sort of truly take it international. A couple of cities were mentioned, but London is A) full of this great iconography, and B) part of the story line is, is the Anglo-American alliance, which is also really interesting in the potential strings, not only that it's actually come under because of the Iraq war, but that it's going to come under because of Jack Bauer."
Despite the monumental success of 24, there were fans who had a number of seemingly trivial criticisms of the format, such as Jack never going to the bathroom. Manny Coto revealed that the 12-hour format will condense the storytelling
"Yes, the 12 hours allows us to really condense the story telling. In a 24-hour season, we kind of knew how many episodes we had to fill and where we had to go. And very often, during a season, we'd find ourselves trying to stretch out plots as much as they could go to fill up the vast material. Here, we find ourselves really compressing the action. We're finding ourselves, very often, a little short of the runway as far as finishing off plots and coming up to the end of the season, and it's very challenging. So it is definitely an accelerated form of storytelling that we're working with this year. And if I can just address the old when does Jack go to the bathroom? I've got to confess, I've always found that the strangest comment. ack is off-screen for huge amounts of time on this show. I mean, he is. So why couldn't he be going to the bathroom then? It's not like the camera is following him around and he's on-screen the entire season. So people constantly quote that as if it's the most pithy revelation. And I always look at them and say well Jack's going to the bathroom when we're on the president, which sometimes takes an entire act."
Manny Coto also spoke about the drastic changes in Chloe O'Brian's character.
"When we approached this season, this 12-episode event, we wanted it to be something special, something different, something that will surprise, that fans will like, but will also surprise them. And we also had to take into account that four years have passed and the characters have changed radically. At the end of season eight, the last time we saw them, Jack was sent into exile for crimes he had committed against the state and against the Russians. But the person who helped Jack go into exile was Chloe O'Brian. The very last scene of the series is Chloe turning off the satellite so Jack can get away. Well, we have to go with that; we can't just ignore that. So the obvious place to go is that Chloe O'Brian herself came under scrutiny, herself was charged, and herself became a fugitive. Jack became a fugitive in his way; he's a man of action. He went where he went. And Chloe, who is somebody who lives her life behind a keyboard, took "arms against the government" in her way, and became embittered and suffered her own personal tragedy. I don't know how far you were into the series, but things will be revealed as far as what she went through. So it gives the characters a place to go to. A) It's surprising, we haven't seen them this way before. But we also get the dramatic reward of seeing them, possibly, come together again. And possibly reawaken their old selves."
The producr also clarified that this show is 12 hours out of a 24-hour day, and not a 24-hour day condensed into 12 hour-long episodes, which he compared to the TV movie 24: Redemption, while confirming that they are not restarting the series.
"The 12 hours are like 24: Redemption. This is a realtime series and it remains a realtime series. There's no difference in the way we are treating the show itself. All we are doing is presenting 12 hours out of a 24-hour period. But the episodes themselves are realtime, as Redemption was and as the original series was. The idea for this, to do a 12-hour season, I think has a lot to do with the success of 12-hour, limited series. I think Under the Dome was something that probably sparked the network and/or the studio's curiosity about doing something like this. It makes it a special event; it makes it something to catch. We're not restarting the series, we are presenting the next day in Jack Bauer's life, and in the 12-hour format, it becomes a, hopefully, a must watch event because it's a one-time thing. So I think the 12-hour format was attractive in that respect. I also allows us to, you know, for us, as writers, it's been fun to condense the storytelling into this 12 hours. I mean, we find ourselves, when we look down the runway of the season, we don't have 24 hours to fill, whereas in the old series, very often we might try to stretch things out because we knew we had so much time. Now we're finding ourselves with the end in sight and really working to resolve all of our story lines. So it's becomes more compressed and more exciting, we think."
24: Live Another Day debuts Monday, May 5th at 8 PM ET on Fox.