From the very first tick of the clock, 24 has given the audience one thrilling, mind-blowing, heart-stopping story after another. Conspiracies, government cover ups, terrorist plots, assassinations, kidnappings, moles, nuclear bombs. I could go on but you get the idea. For 10 years, fans cheered, cried, and were enthralled by Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and all he’s been through. Even after that final shot of Jack in the series finale, we clamored for more! Thanks to the powers-that-be, Jack Is Back!
It’s safe to say that 24 has returned with a vengeance! Fans thrilled with season nine anticipate each new episode of ‘Bauer Power Hour’ with fervor. Monday marks the shows’ milestone 200th episode, an honor that many thought might not come. In addition to reaching this moment, appropriately TV Guide just named ‘Jack Bauer’ the number one Greatest Action Hero!
Now with the show finally wrapped, co-creator and Executive Producer Robert Cochran, and Executive Producer Howard Gordon took the time to chat with journalists about what it means to reach such epic status.
How does one accomplish such an incredible feat? Obviously it takes pure dedication, and a team of creative minds coming together to make a show as unique as 24. For Cochran it has been a humbling experience having so many around the world love the show. “I promise you, when we started this show, we were just trying to get to episode two and the fact that we’ve come this far is incredible and we’re thankful for it.” When 24 ended in 2010, Gordon never thought they’d revisit it; something that took ten years of his life. “I think all of the friendships and camaraderie with our colleagues that we’ve developed, you know, it really is a monument to that.”
It’s rare to have a television show so recognizable that no matter where in the world you go, if you hear either 24 or ‘Jack Bauer’ people know exactly what you’re talking about. Why is Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) so relatable, able to transcend language, culture, etc…? I believe part of the reason is because the character came at a time when not only our country suffered a major blow, right after 9/11, but the entire world was affected by it. People were searching for someone to latch on to that could save the day. Though in realty we know this person doesn’t exist, it’s nice to believe–fiction be damned–that there is someone out there keeping us safe from harm. Both Cochran and Gordon agree and feel it’s also due to the fact that when the show began, Jack was a family man, just trying to protect his family. He has suffered many losses, as well as made numerous sacrifices, and has layers of scars in doing so. No matter what the situation, Jack will do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if it costs him. This ultimately makes him a hero.
There are only a handful of shows that have reached the 200 episode milestone, so what are Cochran and Gordon most proud of accomplishing this with 24? For Cochran, it’s the longevity of the show and its impact on pop culture. Another aspect is its ability to comment on controversial issues, current in the world today, as an undercurrent. “[The show] brings into some of the political and cultural debates that we’ve had over the last decade or so, we’ve been able to be a part of it. It’s been quite amazing.” Gordon credits the entire cast and crew with its success. “Everyone treated this thing as seriously from the first episode to the very last episode. No one ever dropped the ball, no one ever stopped fighting and debating, trying their best to make it the absolutely best show it could be. I think the fact we kept the flame burning as brightly as we did, just in terms of our efforts and our industry, I think is the legacy of the show. I would say I’m most proud of that.”
In bringing back 24 to our screens, what was it like in the writing room after a four year absence in trying to keep the continuity? Both Cochran and Gordon admit to re-watching several episodes to get back into the rhythm of it, to flex that ‘real time’ muscle. Gordon adds, “Then remembering what happened. It’s astounding how much, even in the [writing] room, people who had written the show over ten years couldn’t remember.” Even in doing my series recap, I had a hard time remembering, who died, who is still alive, so I can just imagine what the writing team went through!
One of the best casting decisions of 24 Live Another Day, is Michelle Fairley (Margot Al-Harazi) as probably the most ruthless terrorist we’ve ever seen on the show. When chatting with Fairley a few weeks ago, she mentioned how the Executive Producers were very specific on how they wanted Margot Al-Harazi portrayed. What has she brought to the character that they maybe didn’t expect? Cochran describes that no matter what they’ve given her, Fairley makes everything Margot does believable. “She does it in such a way that you believe it’s really being done, that someone would do it. You believe someone is doing it right in front of you. She’s just great. A terrific actress. She really makes it work and makes it real. That’s the main thing, it’s gotta be real.”
Last week, we saw Margot use a drone like her own personal video game. According to Cochran and Gordon, since the drones were mentioned in season six, they thought it might be an interesting weapon of choice for this particular story. Over the past few years, the drone issue has created headlines in political debate worldwide and as always 24 has a way of fishing in the pond of current events, using it as a tool to comment on. Interestingly, the producers got a couple of calls from other shows who were planning to do something similar, but sadly for them, they beat them to the punch!
So what’s in store for the final five episodes? Fans were ecstatic to see Jack and Audrey (Kim Raver) reunite, but since then, she has been sort of in the background. One of the things Cochran and Gordon mentioned is the fact that there are only a handful of people left that Jack really cares about, with Audrey being an instrumental one. Gordon promises that Audrey plays a huge part and will have a tremendous impact in the coming episodes. Will Jack find a piece of happiness? Cochran and Gordon ask that question all the time. It all remains to be seen.
Another question bugging fans is whether or not there will be a time jump. Each episode has been in real time thus far, but both promise there is a time jump coming up. Personally, although it’s 24, I really don’t see the need to do a time jump. Who says 24 can’t just be a special 12-hour event?
Lastly, the question of President Heller’s (William Devane) Alzheimer’s Disease came up. While his condition was made known, the producers wanted to make it believable and having Heller symptomatic would lead to lack of credibility. If the President of the United States was that incapacitated, having to handle a crisis like this wouldn’t seem credible at all. Ultimately, Heller will have to step down but right now his main focus is dealing with the crisis at hand.
As the clock ticks down on season nine, fans have one burning question- will there be a season ten? Cochran and Gordon could not answer one way or the other. As to whether or not a rumored spin-off is in the works involving Yvonne Strahovski (Kate Morgan), both indicated they wouldn’t be adverse to the idea. Cochran had this to say, “The franchise can continue with Yvonne Strahovski in the lead role. It’s a possibility, certainly to think about, no plans now. The format is very sturdy and very doable and we think with the right story could be compelling.” In my opinion, I think it would be an incredible way to keep the show going and Strahovski has definitely proven herself to be the female ‘Jack Bauer’.
This week the President hands himself over to Margot, unbeknownst to anyone. Of course when Jack learns of the President’s plans, what will he do next? Will Simone (Emily Berrington) help him stop her methodical, ruthless mother or will she remain loyal even after Margot’s attempts at killing her? It all remains to be seen in the epic 200th episode of 24 Live Another Day, Monday June 16 at 9:00 pm on FOX!
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