Fox’s real-time series “24” is headed back to television after a four-year break this May, in a 12-hour miniseries format that will still be in real time but will include hour or two-hour jumps between installments, the total time for the story still adding up to a full day. Stars Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe O’Brian) were joined by executive producers Howard Gordan, Evan Katz, Brian Grazer and Manny Coto at the TCA winter press tour this morning to talk about the return of the series in revamped form before it starts shooting in London in a several weeks.
Shooting “24” in its pre-established 24 episode format “was a marathon and really, really punishing,” said Gordon, explaining that the new format allowed for more time to better craft the episodes and to jump in time. The miniseries won’t follow the same storyline as the “24” movie that’s been floated before but has never made it into production, though the movie is apparently still a possibility — Sutherland noted that “there’s always an opportunity to do [the film,]” and that if the miniseries “ends up rebooting the show or causing the film to be made, so be it.” The series covered a lot of dramatic ground in its original eight seasons on air, and sometimes, Katz noted, “we have to check Wikipedia” to see if a character is still alive. For instance, James Heller (William Devane) will be President in the new series, but, as Coto said, “for a while we dismissed the idea of President Heller — we all thought he was dead.”
As for the show’s political leanings, which have been much discussed, particularly given how torture-happy Jack can be, Gordon insisted Jack “is this Rorschach test — he has been politicized, but he’s really an apolitical character.” He continued that “it’s become a more complex world since we began ’24,'” and “Jack has grown” since the show began — “this really is about Jack and where he is 12 years later.” “It’s extremely apolitical,” added Coto. “This idea that it’s conservative or to the left is baffling to us.”
That said, the miniseries will include real world influences, including amalgams to the Snowden affair and the drone issue. Fan favorite Chloe will have something to do with that — she will have turned against the government and become radical. Chloe “has joined the free information movement,” Gordon revealed, and will be “not just [Jack’s] trusty sidekick, but quite damaged” and possibly adversarial. Jack will begin the miniseries where he left off, as a fugitive, and Coto said “the show will open with that dynamic. In their minds, Jack is not quite Osama Bin Laden, but is a fugitive high on [the list of] someone to be captured. He has a mission — whether it’s a dark mission or he’s fighting on the side of good, we don’t know.”
Sutherland would be happy with the series rebooting and coming back without him, saying that he feels the star of “24” is really the concept, and comparing it to “Law & Order” and “CSI” in the way of the story not being dependent on a particular character. Instead, he said, “the format allows certain characters to have a moral objective in a world that’s not very moral — it’s fantastic drama.”