Capsule Review: Iconic TV franchise 24 is back, but without super agent Jack Bauer. In his place is another maverick type, former Army Ranger and child of the mean streets, Eric Carter. The series is called 24: Legacy, and it’s a well-honed formula. Here’s the drill: There is a conspiracy afoot and Carter, like Bauer before him, is on a hero’s quest to save American lives, protect democratic institutions and do what it takes to ensure justice is done.
Back in 2001 when 24 first hit the small screen, I still hadn’t used a computer and was only vaguely aware of the internet. I watched it on an old-style tube TV and waited expectantly from week to week for the next instalment, as I had been habitually doing with TV serials since 1967.
24 played like a fast-paced video game and had more plot twists per episode than most other shows managed in a season, but its innovation was the ‘played out in real time’ scenario. By Season 5 it, all began to feel a bit repetitive and I fell out of love. After 8 seasons, a TV film and a miniseries, the brand was put to bed, but being such a perennial audience favourite a reboot was inevitable. It’s called 24: Legacy.
It’s the same old same old, except CTU agent Jack Bauer is gone (I don’t know where) and in his place is ex-army ranger Eric Carter. CTU is a damp squib, the characters mostly drawn from wood (bring back awesome CTU analyst Chloe O’Brian) and even the reappearance of star-character Tony Almeida, former CTU operative gone rogue, fails to perk things up. Perhaps actor Carlos Bernard has played Almeida too many times?
The baddie is revenge obsessed Jihadist (of course) Sheik Ibrahim Bin-Khalid and his ruthless sidekick son with the crisp upper cut English accent. A sneering entitled Jihadist? Stop! It’s too much. Yeah, these guys are a bit clichéd and for the sneering son (this arrogant English bastard certainly raised my hackles) I could care less.
Much better is the doomed Chechnyan family with the bomb, a rough but ready metaphor about a people ruined by extremism. TV reliables Jimmy Smits and Gerald McRaney add gravitas as father/son politcal team John and Henry Donavon. McRaney’s scheming Henry has been bent by ambition, but by contrast, John is a heroic saviour figure-in-the-making like Abraham Lincoln, or maybe JFK.
Corey Hawkins as Eric Carter is the show’s star and keenest asset. A retired army ranger trying to figure out who has been killing his buddies and trying to kill him and his wife and brother, Carter is a self-sacrificing warrior of noble disposition, and Hawkins delivers the right balance of notes as Sutherland did before him. He is earnest, virtuous and not afraid to pull the trigger in the cause of justice, and even managed to knock off the rescue of the Jihadist’s daughter with some degree of integrity. This plot line was so heavy in sap that it was the season’s low point, but Hawkins saved it… just.
24:Legacy is an action series with an inclusive ethos. Carter is black and accomplished (a kid who escaped the drugs and the crime) and two male CTU staffers, a computer whizz and a ‘licence to kill’ type agent, are gay men negotiating a sexual relationship. This latter in particular could be of concern to the less mentally flexible of the show’s fans, but is in tune with the times.
The series stumbles through its first season, showing teething problems with pace and performance, but CTU computer expert Andy Shalowitz (Dan Bucatinsky) is convincing, unlike his sidekick Mariana Stiles (Coral Peña) who is given too little to do.
You know the drill: conspiracy, heroes, baddies, twists and turns and guns, explosions and 24 hours to sort it. 24: Legacy Season One is imperfect, but leaves us with a decent antidote to Trump’s belligerent America.
* 24: Legacy has been canned after just one season.