Jack Bauer's seen better days.
Granted, over the eight-season span of the heart-stopping Fox drama "24," he's seen worse days, too. But suffice to say, the former Counter-Terrorism agent is not in a very good place when he returns to television in the 12-part "24: Live Another Day."
The reboot opens four years after the series finale, which found habitual day-saver Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) a fugitive from the United States. He's being hunted by a CIA agent (Yvonne Strahovski) but comes out of hiding in London when a rogue mission to prevent a global disaster presents itself. Toeing the moral line is old hat for Jack – and that's exactly why Sutherland was scared to jump back into the role after a four-year hiatus.
"I used to get terrified in between each season," he admits. "In the middle of the season, it's a reactionary thing. You're in that character. If you go away to do something else, the fear of starting up again – am I being too hard with it? Am I being too soft? – all of those things come into play. And so to open that up again and make 12 episodes and not make them the best 12 episodes that we've ever made is frightening."
That's right – Sutherland's main concern is letting down fans. But even the biggest "24" diehards may have a hard time finding fault in the new mini-season: The familiar clock will keep ticking, faces from Jack's past – including Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Audrey (Kim Raver) – return, and producer Howard Gordon is once again leading the charge with a story Sutherland calls "fantastic."
"There's a great impetus for all of us to create something new with the show, and we've done that with a lot of new characters, certainly within the context of the storylines and the political issues," Sutherland says. Meanwhile, "a lot of the dynamics of the characters that are coming back have been shifted by virtue of the circumstances with which we start the show."
For instance: "At the very beginning of this show, [Chloe and Jack] are actually pitted against each other," Sutherland says. "Any time an actor gets to play something as complex as a past loyalty that is potentially going to be betrayed is – that's a lot of meat. So it's a great opportunity for us."
We're counting down the hours until we can watch.
London as plot device
Yes, setting "24: Live Another Day" in England means we'll get to witness high-octane action scenes in front of the Tower of London and double-decker buses being blown up. But London also serves a critical point in the storytelling.
"In this 12 hour arc, we'll be following the president of the United States and the prime minister of England, which will be a very interesting look into how the deals [they make] – or how we perceive those deals – are done," Sutherland says. "Many times, what we perceive as some kind of treaty is involving things that we know nothing about. We're examining that in the course of the show."
"24: Live Another Day" premieres May 5 at 8 p.m. on Fox.