Television is in the midst of a golden age. A-list Hollywood actors are being seen more on the boob tube; lots of great material are being produced for TV; and shows and characters that have said goodbye too soon find themselves resurrected to live another day. Like Jack Bauer.
After eight seasons, Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agent Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland) of the action-thriller series “24” put away his gun and went underground as a wanted man, in trouble with the American and Russian governments.
Though there were talks to do a full-length feature film since the show ended in 2010, none of the plans pushed through. The showrunners decided instead to do a 12-episode miniseries, which Fox TV network wholeheartedly supported. Longtime fans of the show were thrilled to see Jack back (you can finally use your CTU ringtone again).
Inquirer Super recently spoke to “24” showrunners/executive producers Evan Katz and Manny Coto via teleconference; at one point, a foreign journalist asked Katz and Coto something that has bothered him and other fans of the show: Did Jack ever go to the bathroom at all?
Since the show’s format depicts events happening in one hour per episode, and each season is technically 24 hours in Jack’s life, how can he have nerves of steel and a seemingly bottomless bladder?
“I’ve got to confess. I’ve always found that the strangest comment,” said Coto. “Two things. Jack is off-screen for huge amounts of time on this show. So why couldn’t he be going to the bathroom then? It’s not like the camera is following him around the entire season.”
Katz commented, “We’re hoping this was the last word,” to which Coto added, “He (Jack) actually does go to the bathroom, we just don’t see it.” And for those wondering about the other characters’ bathroom habits, Coto quipped: “By the way, the other characters go to the bathroom as well, and we don’t see them either.”
Such concerns aside, Katz and Coto were apparently thrilled to be working again on the set of “24.”
“A lot of things excited us. Even when Season 8 finished and we were tired and ready to move on, I think all of us felt that there was more to this story and that Jack Bauer, as a character, was not quite ready to shuffle off the stage,” said Coto.
“24: Live Another Day” opens with Jack as a fugitive. “A man who had saved the United States multiple times, that same country has turned its back on him. So that is a fantastic dynamic to start a series, and something that we seized on and really energized us,” said Coto.
Another fan favorite got to live another day, too. CTU systems analyst Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), returns— badder, bolder, and sporting a new look.
On Chloe’s transformation from buttoned-up geek to goth rebel hacker, Coto said: “The idea of Chloe O’Brian also being kind of a fugitive as Jack, having turned her back against the government, you take these two characters and there is a good opportunity for them to work together.”
He added: “Chloe, who is somebody who has lived her life behind a keyboard, goes up in arms against the government in her own way, and is embittered and suffers her own personal tragedy. Things will be revealed as far as what she goes through.”
The new series is set in London, which posed no challenges, just advantages. Katz said, “The greatest challenge was making sure that Jon Cassar, our fantastic producer/director, could go there and get everything set up. He was with the show for most of its initial run. It really has been a tremendously smooth experience. We have a great line producer there, and the production culture in London is really fantastic. So, of all our challenges this year, London was a shining star.”
Coto agreed: “It’s really been wonderful to have access to the British acting pool of these wonderful, classically trained actors, from Michelle Fairley to Emily Berrington who’s at the beginning of her career.”
Stephen Fry and Yvonne Strahovski are also part of the new cast, while William Devane and Kim Raver reprise their roles from previous seasons.
Though fans of the series are the ones most excited to see “24” return, the show’s high-octane pace will please even those who’ve never seen an episode. “I think we’re delivering something that’s not on TV right now. It’s just as intense a thriller as it ever was. If anything, it’s on a larger scope, and the scale is extremely impressive. You don’t need to have watched ‘24’ before; we’re very careful to make sure people are brought up to speed,” said Katz.
“We feel that Jack Bauer’s become part of the cultural iconography out there, and this is a good way to have a great roller-coaster ride,” he added.
“24: Live Another Day” airs on Jack City the same day as in the United States; simulcast at 1 p.m. every Tuesday, with a prime-time screening at 9 p.m.