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24: Is Mike Doyle the New Jack Bauer?

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I've been a diehard devotee of 24 from Day One (no pun intended.) For five seasons, I gleefully accepted every leap in logic, every defiance of time and space, every torture scene (I'm thinking all of Day Three's plotline here) that they could throw at me. I never wavered from my devotion to Jack Bauer, no matter how preposterous the plotlines became. After all, the writers were working on the fly, and even they had no idea where it was going. You have to get behind that kind of moxie.

After the ratings triumph that was Day Five, it was screamingly apparent that 24 would be around for a while. Sure enough, FOX guaranteed it at least three more seasons, and made Kiefer Sutherland an executive producer of the series. It also became increasingly obvious at that point that the series was about to jump the shark.

Let's face it: Day Six has been an almost incomprehensible mess, full of plotlines that sprouted like weeds, and were discarded just as quickly. It's as if the writers realized they'd painted themselves into a corner when they shipped Bauer off on a slow boat to China at the end of Day Five. From the moment Day Six opened, with Bauer released after 20 months of Chinese interrogation, nothing felt right. Within two hours, he got a designer haircut and a shave, (presumably debriefed while he was being groomed) and set about to doing what he does best: killing bad guys in creative ways. And that was all in his first couple of hours of freedom.

Sure, other things have happened — nuclear attack on LA with 12,000 casualties, failed coups, dueling terrorists, near-martial law in the US, paranoid romantic intrigues at CTU — but they were treated as minor annoyances. Bauer got all that cleaned up with six hours to spare – plenty of time to thread a new set-up poised to place Mike Doyle center stage next season.

I'm not privy to CTU memorandums or FOX board meetings, but in my own private spoiler world, I'm almost certain that Ricky Schroder's Mike Doyle will be the new 24 action figure next season. That's not to say Bauer will disappear – he may become next season's CTU director, a position befitting a TV series executive producer. Bauer's days as a renegade lone wolf world savior are almost certainly over, though. He's getting a bit long in the tooth to make it even remotely believable. It's time for Sutherland to pass the torch to younger blood, a la Bruce Willis when he gave up his action star status. Bauer can still be menacing, even in a desk job.

The Mike Doyle character came out of nowhere this season, a sort of young Jack Bauer whose dedication to CTU was beyond reproach. While other characters in Day Six come across as plot devices with no discernible motivation, Doyle has been fleshed out as the season progressed, so that now we see him as a man with a shadowy past who keeps people at arm's length as a defensive mechanism. We know he's a student of comparative religion, that he is not above bending rules in the name of the greater good, that his dedication causes him to be reckless on occasion, that he will get his mission accomplished come hell or high water. But most importantly, he's playing Robin to Bauer's Batman.

When I add all that together, and couple it with the fact that both Bauer and Doyle are blond, grimace at inappropriate moments and have similar tastes in street-fighting clothes, it's not a major leap of faith to see Doyle as Bauer's heir apparent. It makes sense in other ways, too. Schroder has time to grow into the stress lines that are part of Bauer's character. Since there is a bit of a similarity between the two, his presence wouldn't have a jarring effect on audiences. Since he's mysterious at this point, the series writers have a new sphere in which to work. And as the new world savior, he could serve as the perfect foil to a more seasoned, wiser, more bureaucratic Bauer.

I could be wrong, of course. This is 24, after all. Doyle could be killed off next week. WWIII might break out, making Day Seven a post-apocalyptic snooze. I sort of doubt it, though. One thing is certain though. CTU is too small for two blond bad boy world saviors.

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About Ray Ellis

  • Yvonne

    I see no reason why to exchange Jack Bauer with a guy who is basically the same. If they change the main character they have to bring someone completely different to make it more interesting. If Doyle became the new leading man he would get compared to Jack Bauer until Judgement Day.

    Young Jack Bauer? Since Ricky is only 3 years younger than Kiefer that comparison fails to work for me.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    Sorry, Yvonne, but TV history proves you wrong. Anytime a series has tried something radically different, it tanked. Even on the old Zorro TV series, when Disney tried to lighten it up by replacing Zorro’s Midnight with a white horse, viewers revolted and Zorro was no more.
    How could you have a radically different character as the lead and make 24 work? Viewers don’t want a kinder, gentler Jack. On the other hand, if Doyle comes across as a sort of protege under the covert watch of Bauer, the series might have a chance to last two more seasons.
    And since this is TV we’re talking about, Schroder’s and Sutherland’s ages have nothing to do with anything. Schroder’s character is younger, looks younger and we suspend our disbelief.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Now, what I’d really like to see is a brave choice: let Jack be CTU director and let our gal Chloe become the action hero (remember Season 4 and the M-16?). I know it will enver happen, but what an amazing thing if it did!

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    Victor, it’s fun to imagine that. But doubt that would happen, agreed.

    Ray, I don’t know if I like your theory, though you made a good case. You could be right – I just don’t like it! : )

    So, you’re right, I don’t like change – I can’t imagine 24 without Jack running around and biting people in the neck, shooting them in the thigh, or grabbing them by the throat and slamming them against a wall.

    But I will say, I’d love to know Doyle’s past.

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com TV and Film Guy

    Congratulations! This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net, which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    Chloe as the take no prisoners, kick ten different kinds of ass action heroine we always knew was hiding inside her delicate psyche? Hmmm. . . Ya know, Victor, the more I consider it, the more I like it.

    Mary, I probably am wrong (he said coyly), but I rather like the possibilities there. I really don’t think Doyle’s going away, though. They’ve invested too much effort in the character. However it plays, I’m almost certain he and Bauer will be foils next season.

    By the way, Victor and Mary– your recaps have been the most entertaing part of Day Six. Without yopu guys, I might have given up on this season, and joined the Heroes bandwagon.

  • Angie B

    Having Ricky Schroder’s “Mike Doyle” character come in and take over for Kiefer Sutherland’s “Jack Bauer” would be my worst nightmare come true. This would only serve as a sheer fire way of kissing the series “bye bye” and that shark would be just a jumpin’! I’m not the only fan that feels that way either. Lots of fans, male and female alike, have stated that if Kiefer Sutherland isn’t in front of the camera playing “Jack Bauer” they will stop watching the show. Kiefer Sutherland is not getting to old to play this role. Isn’t Bruce Willis(who you mentioned in your opinion piece)about to release another installment of the “Die Hard” franchise? We’re all entitled to our opinions and I respect yours.(Although I’m not happy with it) I just hope this “Mike Doyle” character is a one season deal. Like “Chase Edmunds” in season 3.

  • http://johnstodderinexile.wordpress.com John S.

    This thought occured to me, too. I don’t think Doyle becoming the new action here would be such a disaster. But in my scenario, Jack commits suicide. Or becomes President. Or is in prison, sending missives to Doyle written on toilet paper. Or is in a hospital for the criminally insane. But, yeah, CTU director might work. That would allow him to pursue his Black Widower love life.

  • http://Politicalvindication.com Shane

    24 needs the change, and Doyle is just a good place to start. Then they have to move out of the country and send the agent border – hopping on a worldwide chase after virus toting thugs. I can honestly say, being a Californian – when they have six nukes and 15 episodes later San Francisco is still standing, there’s no justice! Get out of California if you’re not going to do something constructive!

    I love the series, but we need a drastic change – especially the plot line. I’ve been saying it’s Jack’s last season anyway (for Christ’s sake – he’s delirious after what he’s been through, let him retire!). So I’m eager to see how this one ends!

  • http://paullevinson.blogspot.com Paul Levinson

    I think Ray’s logic is strong, but my gut says Jack won’t be replaced by Doyle. 24 has always defied conventional TV reasoning and expectations – and I bet Jack will be around for as long as there is a 24 series.

    Also, if you think of Doyle as a blond Tony, then he and Jack in the same CTU could make sense.

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    sending missives to Doyle written on toilet paper

    like in V for Vendetta? LOL

    Funny stuff John. : )

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    And Ray, thanks for your comments. : )(speaking for Victor too,haha) We appreciate it.

    I was loving Heroes and am frustrated that it conflicts with 24. I hope there are ru-runs in the off season.

  • http://jitakuserver.net 自宅サーバー

    Now, what I’d really like to see is a brave choice: let Jack be CTU director and let our gal Chloe become the action hero (remember Season 4 and the M-16?). I know it will never happen, but what an amazing thing if it did!

  • Maddy Wilson

    Ok, see, doyle can’t be the next jack bauer because he is probably goinh to go blind because of the bomb that exploded in his FACE!!! but i seriously hope that he does come back. i liked his character a lot!!

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    He won’t be blind– maybe have a dashing eyepatch– but he’ll be back.

  • becky assumpta aghedo

    i like jack bauer very much. i hopa he comes back safe and healthy. my regards to him. can i ve his email address pls

  • MICHELLE

    how preposterous to suggest that Doyle is in anyway comparable to the legend that is Jack Bauer. Doyle’s smarmy know it all character is miles away from the sentitive hero that is Jack Bauer. to even consider Doyle as the next Jack Bauer is to condemn oneself to life of pain and suffering. Doyle is a bastard.
    i want to rip out his innards and use them as rope to hang him with.
    my ultimate dream is to pierce his stupid eyes with hot javelins and crush him with a 200 foot whaling boat.

    i hope doyle is exterminated in the first scene of season 7. him and all you doyle lovers.

    DIE DOYLE DIE

  • bear

    doyle is a looser and series six is ok