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5 Hopes for Jack's Triumphant Return

Jack Bauer
We need you, man
Terrorists have attacked America, and we now know that the president lied about it. The government has been secretly targeting Americans for political gain, and forces have been conspiring to make sure nobody finds out. We have been betrayed, Americans lie dead, our security is at stake, and only one man can save us from this dystopian nightmare of intrigue and terror. That man, of course, is Jack Bauer.

It was a sad day when 24 went off the air in 2010. Though the quality of the storytelling varied from season to season, the show was a brilliant Rorschach test that found a unique vein of the modern American experience and tapped it for all it was worth. The show began its run eight and a half years earlier, near the end of 2001, and it was the only scripted series at the time that dared to examine terrorism with an unflinching eye. However, as the years passed and the mythology of the show got increasingly fantastic and implausible, cancelation was a wise move. Fans dared to dream that a 24 film was in the works--and for a while there, it was--but when that fell apart, one can be forgiven for assuming that the property was as dead as President Palmer.

Then again, if there's one thing Jack Bauer is known for--aside from his skills with a hacksaw--it is resurrection. Yesterday, Fox officially announced that 24 will return next May for a 12-episode "event" series entitled 24: Live Another Day. Though the original show used its real time gimmick throughout all eight seasons, this new series will not be tied to such a strict chronology (though it will still all take place in the span of one day), allowing the scriptwriters more flexibility and creative room.

I am of course excited, and have five big hopes for how the property will be handled. As with my other two lists of suggestions for the 24 writers, these are just hopes, and I will not choose to hate on the new 24 just because the showrunners fail to listen to the rantings of one enthusiastic fanboy. At the end of the day, it is their property, not mine.


1.
No More Moles
24 screenshot
Being a mole is better than being a ghost, I suppose


Every single season of 24 featured moles within America's counter-terrorism network, which became an intolerable crutch and exhausting cliché long before Starbuck turned out to be a baddie in the final season. The fifth season featured a president who was a mole, and two seasons later, a whole network of moles in every government agency threatened to cripple D.C. We've gotten all the blood we can get from this particular stone, so please, please, guys: don't do it again.


2.
Make it Culturally Relevant Again
24 screenshot
They were pretty on the ball with the whole first black president thing


When the show started going off the rails during the later seasons, it was largely because it stopped focusing on the fears of the American psyche, choosing instead to focus on the potential cleverness of the writers in formulating new plot twists every week. Instead of concentrating on the idea of Muslim extremists with a nuclear bomb, lone wolf psychopaths with biological weapons, or a president capable of the worst kind of conspiracy, the show brought us Jack's father, the rebirth of Tony Almeida, and fanciful EMP weapons. The writers need to start thinking about what really scares America--deep down--and put that back on the small screen for Jack Bauer to face.


3.
Try Not to Kill Everyone
24 screenshot
Technically speaking, Tony did die in Season 5


I want you to think back to the very first season of the show and list all the major players: Jack Bauer, Kim Bauer, Teri Bauer, Nina Meyers, Tony Almeida, David Palmer, Sherry Palmer, George Mason, the Drazens, and Milo Pressman. Spoiler alert: of that list, only three people--Jack, Kim, and Tony--are still alive at the end of the eighth season. As much as I would love to see Kim get eaten by a cougar, I'd rather the writers tried not to murder every character Jack has ever known. There are only so many deaths you need to motivate him at this point, and the man has already lost his pregnant wife. If you must bring back an old favorite like Chloe, please don't give her an extended cameo before mercilessly ending her life.


4.
Give Jack a Reason to Live
24 screenshot
At the very least, let him reunite with a slightly less crazy Audrey


To say Jack's been through a lot is an understatement, and every time the writers have offered him a carrot of positive motivation and the possibility of a good life outside of his superhero duties to America, it's been ripped away from him. Jack was allowed to bow out quite gracefully at the conclusion of the series and create a new life for himself, and it would be nice to see him relatively happy for a change, both at the start and, more importantly, at the end of the new day. After all, we the audience have been through a lot as well.


5.
Make it Awesome Enough to Last
24 screenshot
Granted, the original show definitely ended well


The last thing I want to see is 24 come back to offer up a mediocre twelve episodes before disappearing back into the void. Instead, I want to see 24 continue for as long as it possibly can, because it is important, provocative, and endlessly entertaining. If The Simpsons can find a reason to exist for its twenty-fourth consecutive season, surely Jack Bauer can stick around for a few more days.


-e. magill 5/14/2013










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