Fox’s legendary series 24 lasted nearly a decade, but it wasn’t until its third or fourth season that I watched a single show. And I have a Baptist pastor to thank for that.
“It’s addictive!” he said.
Perhaps it’s odd to think about a minister tuning weekly into a show that is heavy on violence and profanity, but I soon understand what he meant. With a groundbreaking format, a perfect cast and a story filled with plot twists. Millions of Americans – myself included – became addicted to the counterterrorism series that ran from 2001-2010 (with a bonus season in 2014).
No, 24 wasn’t family-friendly in the strict sense, but its good-defeats-evil storyline and its incorporation of gut-wrenching ethical dilemmas made it a popular series among parents after the kids went to bed.
This Sunday, Fox will debut another series in the 24 universe – 24: Legacy. Gone are the characters we grew to love. There’s no Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) or Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub). That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news: 24: Legacy, with its new hero Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins), just might end up being as good as the original.
I have screened the first three episodes and can say – without hesitation – that 24: Legacy lives up to the magic of the original 24. Here’s why:
- Cliffhanger endings. What made 24 so great? Lots, but the I-can’t-wait-until-next-week endings were a big part of it. It seemed like torture to make us wait seven days for the next show, didn’t it? 24: Legacy gives us that, too.
- Likeable characters. Jack Bauer had lots of flaws, but we grew to like him and his family. We didn’t want Jack to die! Three episodes into 24: Legacy, I am growing just as fond of Eric Carter and his wife.
- The soundtrack (it’s back!). 24 wouldn’t be the same without its famous music. Thankfully, the creators of 24: Legacy kept most everything the same – down to the drum-heavy “countdown” track we hear before and after the commercials. The only difference: The clock is now blue.
The new series follows Carter, an ex-Army Ranger, as he tries to stop a terrorist attack on American soil. Along the way, he has to keep his wife alive, too. Critiques will complain that we’ve seen this plot before, but honestly, there’s only so many counterterrorism stories that can be told. It’s the nuances that make each show worth watching.
24: Legacy also continues a trend that the first 24 started: It borrows from the headlines. Jack Bauer and his CTU bosses debated the ethics of torture at the same time that the U.S. – led by the George W. Bush administration – was conducting a real-life debate on torture. In 24: Legacy, a presidential candidate’s Muslim campaign director is accused of ties to terrorists – similar to what took place last year with one of Hillary Clinton’s staffers.
24: Legacy also includes what (I think) is the series’ first gay romance angle. That will be disappointing to conservative families, although through the three episodes I watched, it is quite subtle.
My biggest complaint? 24: Legacy is only 12 episodes. But if it lasts several seasons, I can handle it.