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He’s stopped presidential assassinations, thwarted nuclear threats, foiled biological attacks, pulled the world back from the brink of a third world war, and he’s done it all without a wink of sleep; as Kiefer Sutherland himself once asked, how many bad days can one guy have? Well at least one more it turns out, as this month Jack Bauer returns to once again do battle with terrorists hell-bent on causing global atrocities.

When we last saw Jack he was about to go into hiding, in order to avoid the wrath of some very angry Russians. However, a threat against US President & former mentor James Heller forces Jack to resurface in London. Before long, Bauer will once again find himself at the heart of a major terrorist incident where every second is vital to averting disaster. Played out as a special 12-episode event, 24: Live Another Day will be the perfect antidote to those fans who have been waiting for a 24 movie since the series ended back in 2010.

Its pulsating blend of espionage and excitement put 24 at TV’s forefront when it began in 2001. The relentless pace and unexpected twists, which played out over an entire season, felt like a breath of fresh air on TV schedules that were largely dominated by episodic thrillers trying and failing to muster as much tension in an entire series as 24 managed during a single episode. However, like many shows, 24’s popularity soon started to dwindle, despite a substantial fan base. The real time aspect, which had been revolutionary when the show launched, became a constraint on the narrative. It forced the writers to repeatedly regurgitate the same themes they had been milking since the first season. The sixth season, which followed the heights of the brilliant fifth, was a critical failure; slated for its lack of originality. While Seasons 7 & 8 were marked improvements, moving the action away from Los Angeles and building a new long-term story arc between Jack and an FBI agent, they never came close to capturing the true magic of those first 5 seasons.

We now live in a golden age of TV, where the schedules are populated by shows that refuse to treat the audience as idiots. TV thrillers have become far more intelligent; webs of violence and corruption that are complicated, but never convoluted. In this world, can a character as brash as Jack Bauer really survive?

The trailer certainly doesn’t hint at a noticeably changed formula, only a different setting. Yet there’s an inescapable excitement that will pulse through the veins of the show’s many hardened fans when watching it. No show has ever been able to match the sheer exhilaration of 24; Sutherland’s unashamedly bold and aggressive performance, the terrorist’s uncanny ability to place a mole within whichever government agency it desires, and the writers’ determination to raise the tension at a pace akin to the threat level. All these elements look to be present and correct in the previews available and that, whether people would care to admit it or not, is exciting. 24 may be brainless, but it may also be brilliant.

24: Live Another Day starts on Sky 1 on May 7th

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