When the first series of 24 was broadcast all the way back in 2001, it introduced all the soon to become familiar tropes: split screens showing multiple events happening at the same time; the signature beeping clock signifying real-time and agent Jack Bauer, a superhuman of a man who will do whatever it takes to fight terrorism, including whispering really quietly and then SHOUTING REALLY LOUDLY.
Yes, at the time it was new and fresh, but after nine seasons it was clear that the concept was starting to drag. What the show needed was a freshening up which season’s eight’s move to New York couldn’t provide. This final series moves the action to London, and it also cuts things down to just twelve episodes – and it’s a wise move, reducing the sheer amount of twists-for-the-sake-of-twists that plagued previous series of the show.
I say London, but you will count so few British things in each episode that it might as well continue to be America. In fact, 24: Live Another Day takes place in a weird parallel version of London where it takes only a few minutes to drive anywhere despite the city’s noted congestion problems, and in a weird Britain where the Americans have for some reason been allowed to establish a military base. For all the things one can mock though, (and 24 has always been a show with plenty of those) the basic formula is there and the show delivers without becoming as convoluted as some of the weaker moments throughout its history. Jack is back and it feels great.
Another change, although one that ultimately affects little, is that CTU has been replaced by a London branch of the CIA. However, the new organisation still performs the same role, fighting terrorism and not screening their staff properly (there’s always a mole). A slightly slow start as the team of Jack and Chloe get back together soon gives way to the usual pace, as they (along with not-CTU) have to save London from terrorist-controlled drones.
Politics has never been 24’s strong suit, but using a plotline like this considering recent drone-related controversies works well. What works less well is that the terrorists in control are white Muslim converts. It’s just a bit too silly, even for 24 standards. Also, Chloe has gone through a Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-style makeover, and it’s completely unsubtle. With such details reeking a little of desperation, understandably the beginning of the series is a little rocky. One particular moment at the end of episode three however signifies the return of everything 24 fans love and from then on it’s an exhilarating ride of twists and turns and crossing and double-crossing because Jack doesn’t have time to explain and you’ll just have to trust him.
Not only did 24: Live Another Day have to revitalise an aging series, it also had to end it. Series 8 finished in such a way that it could have potentially ended there, but this final run provides a far more satisfying conclusion. It doesn’t reach the heights of 24 in its prime, but all in all, if you’re a 24 fan, 24: Live Another Day is more of what you love and less of what you don’t. However, if you’re new to the series, don’t jump in here because it relies too much on past knowledge; despite the title, it’s 24: Series 9 and should be treated as such.