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Fox revives '24' with same concept, new characters, Atlanta masquerading as D.C.

This was posted on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Revivals are all the rage nowadays, such as "Fuller House," "MacGyver" and "The X-Files." These all waited at least 14 years before turning the light back on.

But Fox couldn't wait on "24." Just seven years after the original series ended and three years since Jack Bauer lived one more day with a one-off return, the network decided to bring it back again, this time with virtually all fresh characters and a revived Counter Terrorism Unit. This particular day (or half day, since we'll only see 12 of the 24 hours) is set in Washington D.C. but shot in Atlanta.

The network is confident enough that this will work that execs gave what is now called "24: Legacy" the coveted post-Super Bowl slot on Sunday.

So it's both a low risk and high risk move at the same time. Actors on the show believe there is enough of what people enjoyed about the original show: the real-time action, the terrorists, the possible moles at CTU!  At the same time, neither original star Jack Bauer nor his scowling tech buddy Chloe O'Brian are around. (Reviews, so far, are all over the map.)

Instead, the show's focal star is Corey Hawkins' heroic Army Ranger Eric Carter. He helped take down a big-time terrorist Sheik Ibrahim Bin-Khalid with five other copatriots. Bin-Khalid’s followers declared a fatwah against Carter, his squad and their families, forcing them into federal witness protection. But they are discovered and several are killed in the opening minutes of the show.

To survive, Carter needs help from departing CTU head Rebecca Ingram, who oversaw the original raid. She's played by Miranda Otto from Showtime's "Homeland." Her husband is Senator John Donovan, played by Emmy winning actor Jimmy Smits ("The West Wing," "NYPD Blue," "L.A. Law"), who is running for president.

Only one notable character from the original series appears: Tony Almeida, played by Carlos Bernard, a friend and foe of Bauer over the seasons depending on the circumstances.

This time around, the cast is even more diverse. Smits' Donovan could become the first Latino president. His chief of staff is Muslim. And the lead is black.

"I was a huge '24' fan," said Hawkins, who played Dr. Dre in the 2015 film "Straight Outta Compton" and has had a minor role on "The Walking Dead" as Heath. "It's an expansion of the '24' world. It's everything you loved about the original with new characters. Just give it a chance."

Kiefer Sutherland is an executive producer but is busy starring in his own ABC series "Designated Survivor" and won''t appear. "He's very much involved" behind the scenes, Hawkins said. "He watches the episodes and sees what's going on. It's great we have his stamp of approval."

Hawkins takes issue with any assertion his character is filling Bauer's shoes. "My goal is do justice to Eric Carter, telling his story every single second, minute by minute. That's liberating but also scary."

He was heartened when the first 20 minutes was screened at ComicCon and the audience was rapt. The scene where terrorist try to torture him for information is shot in a cinematic flourish with the camera following him out the door into the car documentary style. "You take this journey with them and get caught up in his world," he said.

Smits gets to play a politician running for president, a reprise of his role on "The West Wing." But he said the two characters are very different. The focus on "24" is about action and terrorism, not policy arguments on health care or immigration that Aaron Sorkin liked to partake in.

He admired the way "24" created a specific look and style distinctive from anything else on TV, fueled in part by the "real time" aspect, with multiple boxes to show what different characters were doing at the same time. And there is plenty of continuity, he noted. "The guy who directed our pilot episode also directed the original pilot in 2001. The supervising producer did 60 episodes. Many of the writers are the same. There's a certain comfort level."

Smits notes that Hawkins' character is more of an outsider than Bauer was. "He's trying to get his life in order [outside the military] but gets sucked back in," he said.

He also likes the addition of the world "legacy" to the show's title. "Its very apropos to me," he said. "The show has this iconic stamp to it. Legacy connotes continuing the best parts of it. We do that in a lot of ways."

Otto, who plays Smit's wife, also came from a show that focuses on global terrorism in "Homeland." She shares the same agent as Sutherland and got hooked on "24" early on. Being part of it now is a treat, she said. "Just hearing the sound of that clicking clock gives you a thrill," she said. "It's part of TV history."

The way the show's current plotline is working, she said, reflects the shifting nature of terrorism. "It's become much more random," she said. "You don't even know these things are happening. They set one of the sleeper cells in a high school."

And while sitting on the updated CTU set, she said she is well aware of the organization's checkered past from the original series. "You can't trust any of your colleagues," she said.


"24: Legacy," debuting after the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 5, 2017 on Fox

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.