Around the Water Cooler: “24: Live Another Day,” the Limited Series Season Premiere (MINOR SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who: “24: Live Another Day” airs on network TV, specifically on Fox, spring/summer Mondays at 9:00 PM.

What: “24: Live Another Day,”a limited run event series exploring what has happened to Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), and to some extent Chloe Sullivan (Mary Lynn Rajskub), following the finale of parent series 24.  As Jack’s voice-over introduction to start each hour indicates, events in each episode occur in real time.  Thus, each one-hour episode is one hour’s worth of events in the story.

When: The series/ninth season premiere aired on Monday, May 5, 2014, at 9:00 PM (I am behind).

Where: The event series appears to be set in London, England, United Kingdom, though having watched only one episode, I’m not sure yet if it leaps to other locales.

Why: Why?!  Because as I stated here, I watched 24 and really enjoyed it and because I want to know what happened to Jack!  I love Kiefer Sutherland, particularly in this role, and I think this could be a novel approach to revisiting popular series in the future, without demeaning or cheapening the ends of worthy series.  Jack is back!  Will he ever get a happy ending?  Or, at least, a less than tragic one?  More to the point, should it be considered a happy ending if he merely doesn’t get himself killed? Discuss.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

Ah, that ticking clock…  this viewer has missed 24.  Don’t get me wrong, when 24 ended its long run in 2010, it was the right time to go.  After all, how many terrible crises can one man and/or one agency endure?  Are threats to national security of the type depicted on that program really so common?  It makes one shudder to think of it.

Seriously, though, Jack Bauer had a good run the first time through, but then, the writers/producers decided to leave the series somewhat open ended.  Jack, exiled for actions that he took to ultimately save America but which were not exactly on the up and up, escaped into the world unknown, hiding away from authorities. He became an outlaw, and loyal friend and former fellow CTU agent Chloe Sullivan followed suit, vilified for their roles in these events (I’m trying to be deliberately vague here, in case readers have not seen 24 the first time out).

Live Another Day picks up the story four years later, present day and in London. Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) is running a satellite office of some spy-related agency (is it CTU?  That wasn’t made clear in the premiere). Kate Morgan, a field agent, is resigning and heading back to the United States.  It seems her husband, possibly another agent, was a mole, and she never saw it coming.  He’s gone now, and her abilities and competence have now been called into question.  She is leaving, judged as she is by her boss and her peers, who covet her position.

Yet, while finishing up her work and tracking the patterns of some possible terrorist suspects, video surveillance footage is discovered that contains a recognizable face – Jack Bauer has emerged from hiding. What’s more, after an exciting standoff between him and a dispatched team, he lets himself be caught.  Kate, her instincts firing on all cylinders, realizes this before her co-workers and patronizing boss do.  After all – Jack has been out of reach for four years.  Why would he let himself be caught so easily?

Even though Jack is interrogated by Steve, he doesn’t break and maintains an impressive silence.  Why would he talk?  He’s interrogated and tortured countless suspects – he knows all of the procedures and protocols and knows how to beat the system.  In fact, he practically created the system himself.  What the viewer learns, however, is that Chloe is being held in a top secret wing of this agency that utilizes torture as part of its interrogation arsenal, and Jack is on a mission to rescue her.  We don’t know why Chloe is in this mess: she’s sporting leather and a haircut that renders her quite goth, though, which will no doubt help her to look even grumpier once she recovers from the after effects of the torture.  We just know that loyal Jack is there to save his friend. Does he manage it?  If you know know Jack and 24: what do you think?

In the meantime, President Heller (William Devane), now a second term president, is in London to meet with officials and to give a speech. It seems that the president is struggling with his memory, and when his Chief of Staff asks him about an easy mistake he made in a briefing, confusing the Presidents Roosevelt, Heller admits to the Chief’s wife, his daughter Audrey (Kim Raver), that “it’s getting worse.”  It’s a safe assumption that “it” refers to Alzheimer’s, but that also has not yet been made clear.

In addition, the Chief learns of Jack Bauer’s capture, which he decides to keep to himself, away from the President’s and Audrey’s ears.  After all, Audrey was in love with Jack and he with her during the primary run of 24, but events confused and destroyed their relationship.  This Chief of Staff, however, is apparently smart enough to know that the feelings were real.

Ultimately, the first hour of Live Another Day, summarized above, was rather slow.  The premiere served to set an entirely new stage, to remind us of our players, and to check in with Jack and Chloe, who have been off the grid for four years.  So many questions crop up immediately, and we don’t know just yet what the stakes are, other than that Jack and Chloe’s capture would result in them going to prison.

To wit, this was a very soft start for an “event series,” but I will keep watching.  After all, I want to know why Jack and Chloe are risking exposure now, after so many years.  One can bet that America is in danger again…or America’s president…or London…or some combination thereof.  One can also bet that Jack will save the day.  Jack always saves the day!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Why is Chloe goth?  What has she got herself into?

2) What’s wrong with President Heller?

3) Will Audrey and Jack meet again?

4) Why do we care about Kate Morgan?  She seems to be an integral piece to this puzzle.

5) Has Jack been keeping tabs on Kim?  Steve tells him that Kim had another baby.  Grandpa Jack hasn’t been around much.

6) Can Jack save the day and clear his name?  My bet’s on yes…let’s find out!

PARTING SHOTS:

Watching 24: Live Another Day is like reuniting with an old friend, though the first episode was slow to start. This viewer imagines that the intensity will only build, since that’s what this program is famous for – I hope it gets better, though most of the feedback from those who have been watching it appears to indicate that viewers are pleased.  How can they not be?  Jack Bauer is a great character, and he and Chloe are two heroes for which to root on a weekly basis.  This viewer is excited to see what the future has in store for them, even if the future is the past for many viewers who have been staying current.

LOOKING AHEAD:

24: Live Another Day was ordered for a limited run series of thirteen episodes, the finale of which will be airing tomorrow, July 14, 2014, at 9:00 AM.  There is no word yet on whether or not Fox plans to order additional seasons.  Because it was ordered as a limited run series, there is an option for renewal, but the series of thirteen episodes should also be able to stand alone in its own right.  The ratings for the series have generally been very good, and critic reception has been favorable/warm, even if some critics don’t enjoy the sense of “sameness” or familiarity of some of the 24 trademarks.  If there is a renewal, it may be announced in the next couple of weeks.  This viewer will keep an eye on the relevant sites and report the outcome of any possible decision when I finish watching the instant series.  Until then!

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