When 24 debuted back in 2001, it was an early punk band: bold and messy and groundbreaking in the ways it helped push TV drama forward, and made network TV a safer place to tell serialized stories.
But inevitably, every punk band that manages to stay alive and together becomes some form of dinosaur rock, and when 24 finished its original run, what had once been revolutionary and dangerous about it was now codified and predictable, just replacing pre-24 TV formula with its own. By the time of 2014’s reunion miniseries 24: Live Another Day, Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer was another classic rock frontman, there to play the hits for the fans who adored them and wouldn’t want anything new if the writers were even interested in offering it up.
But Live Another Day still had Sutherland, whom the 24 writers have long credited for giving weight to the show’s many implausible plot twists. (As co-creator Joel Surnow once told me, “We’re nothing without Kiefer’s delivery.”) And it had several other returning characters the audience had varying degrees of fondness for, chief among them Mary Lynn Rajskub as Jack’s hacker sidekick Chloe. Yes, it was a collection of oldies, but featuring the people who had made them goodies in the first place.
The new 24: Legacy, on the other hand, is what happens when one of those old bands wants to keep touring without the frontman who made them special in the first place — or the lead guitarist, or part of the rhythm section. It’s all of the franchise’s silliest and most annoying contrivances, only without the saving grace of Jack and Chloe to remind you of how much you enjoyed that stuff the first time you heard it rather than the hundredth.
Our hero this time is Eric Carter (played by Corey Hawkins from Straight Outta Compton), ex-Special Forces, now living in anonymity with wife Nicole (Anna Diop) after his unit took out a Bin Laden-esque terrorist leader. But when most of his former comrades and their families are murdered as part of an elaborate plot to commit mass atrocities against America(*), Eric has to seek help from former CTU boss Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto), who has retired to be part of her husband John Donovan’s (Jimmy Smits) run for president.
(*) The original 24 — whose pilot climaxes with terrorists blowing up a passenger jet — debuted two months after 9/11. The new one debuts a week after our new POTUS’ Muslim immigration ban and the rhetoric surrounding it. The franchise keeps stumbling into the headlines somehow.