24 producers Evan Ketz and Manny Coto described a Jack Bauer on the run and a much-changed Chloe O’Brien in 24: Live Another Day.
Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer became an American cultural icon over 24’s eight-year run.
But now it’s been four years since TV viewers last saw Jack. In a conference call with reporters, 24 producers Evan Katz and Manny Coto made clear that their goal with the upcoming 12-episode “event series” 24: Live Another Day was making sure viewers knew just how much had changed for Jack in those four years.
“Jack doesn’t fit into the world. It’s a challenge for him to find his place,” Coto said, referring to the events of the 24 “series” finale in which Jack had to go on the run as a fugitive from the U.S. government he supported and defended for years. “We wanted it to be something special. We also had to take into account that four years have passed and characters have changed radically.”
Meanwhile, Chloe O’Brien, Jack’s friend, most useful ally and closest thing 24 has ever had to another major supporting character, will have undergone a massive change as well. Last seen as the acting director of the Counter Terrorist Unit, Chloe helped Jack escape justice and is no longer welcome at her old change. Incorporating current events, the show runners have elected to give Chloe an “Edward Snowden-like” role.
“There were a number of political developments that we seized upon. A really interesting possible villain. Government spying on its citizens. Individuals who appear who are trying to fight that (Snowden). It also gave us an idea for what to do with Chloe O’Brien. She goes the Edward Snowden route,” Coto said.'
Just as the political landscape has changed in the four years 24 has been off the air, so has the television viewing landscape, favoring shorter TV seasons.
“People’s viewing habits have changed, Katz said. “Asking people to devote 24 weeks is a bigger ask than it was years ago. This is more inviting. It’s not going to happen all the time. It’s not taking place over a year and it gives the network an opportunity to put more oomph beyond the launch.”
Katz also confirmed that while the 24 event has been downsized to 12 episodes, those episodes will still be in realtime, much like previous seasons. They will be presenting 12 hours of a day instead of 24, making the name of the show itself a bit of an anachronism.'
Katz and Coto remained mum on whether popular characters from the show’s past like Tony Almeida would return or whether Live Another Day would mark the final saga of Jack Bauer, but did offer some other teases. One being that new President James Heller (played by William Devane) is dealing with a “big issue” and that a new government agent played by Yvonne Strahovski will be able to relate to a lot of Jack’s experiences.
Of course there’s also that question that has literalists of the 24-hour real time format have pondered for years. You know the one.
“I don’t want to see (Jack) go to the bathroom,” Coto said. “People constantly quote that as if it’s the most pithy revelation. We’ve got plenty of scenes that Jack’s not in. Jack’s going to the bathroom when we’re on the President.”
24: Live Another Day comes to Fox at 8 p.m. on May 5 with a two hour premiere.