July 15, 2008

TV’s ’24’ Returns With Jack Bauer and Some Changes

Admired, lionized, and copied since it bowed in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, "24" was attacked, belittled, and -- worst -- nearly dismissed by fans and critics last season. So what'll one of television's truly groundbreaking series do for an encore this fall? In a word, change.

Show-runner Howard Gordon yesterday outlined a strategy at the TV press tour in Beverly Hills that he says will bring the show back to pop culture's center stage and answer critics, notably some in the blogosphere who said its graphic portrayal of torture essentially endorsed Bush administration policy.

The show will launch Nov. 23 with a two-hour "prequel" that Roslyn native Gordon said will focus on Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) as he parachutes into the midst of unrest in a fictional African country. Jack has come to this faraway place because "he's avoiding a summons from a congressional committee."

When the 7th season begins next January, the show will then shift to Washington -- it's always been based in Los Angeles -- where Bauer will indeed square off against this committee which Gordon called "a stand-in for the pundits who took shots at us" last year. He said that some of the criticism of the 6th season was justified.

"[The show's] become a running joke on a number of fronts, because obviously we've upped the ante a number of times. Yet we've found something new and improbably, I think it works."

But "24" will still be "24:""Jack is unrepentant, and he feels like the idea of trying to defend himself is a corrupt act," which is why he's fled. And yes, you can assume bodies will still fall (and blood will be shed.)