24: Live Another Day Mondays, 9 p.m. (premieres May 5, 8 p.m.), Fox.
For better or worse, the producers of the new season of 24 (subtitled Live Another Day) have delivered the exact same show that went off the air four years ago. Star Kiefer Sutherland returns as Jack Bauer, Mary Lynn Rajskub returns as his sidekick/foil Chloe O’Brian (now transformed into a sort of cross between Edward Snowden and the girl with the dragon tattoo), a few other familiar supporting characters make their appearances, and many of the writers and producers who worked on the show’s initial eight seasons (including co-creator Robert Cochran) are back behind the scenes. In other words, it’s like Jack never left, and for a show that ran out of steam long before airing its final episode, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
There are some key differences: Live Another Day is set to last just 12 episodes, instead of 24, but it retains the show’s real-time gimmick in each episode, meaning that certain hours of the new longest day of Jack’s life will be skipped, allowing for the producers to bypass some of the awkward transitional material they’ve dealt with in the past. The new season takes place in London, although the first two episodes don’t show Jack facing anything different from what he dealt with in LA and New York in the past.
The other difference is that thanks to the accumulated events of the previous eight seasons, Jack is more of a haunted killing machine than the competent secret agent he was at the show’s beginning. “Jack Bauer is a traitor and a psychopath,” says the U.S. president’s chief of staff (Tate Donovan); the tough-as-nails CIA agent (Chuck’s Yvonne Strahovski) who seems like Jack’s likeliest ally describes him as “a violent criminal.” As always, Jack is the only man who can stop a nefarious plot (to assassinate the president and start a war), and while there are nods to current political issues (drone warfare, government surveillance), the storytelling is still very familiar. For fans who stuck around for all eight original seasons, Live Another Day offers more of what they loved. For everyone else, there’s no reason to start now.