By Victor Beigelman
Jack is back.
On May 5th, one of TV’s most beloved characters, Jack Bauer, will return to action in 24: Live Another Day, a 12 episode mini-series event following the same real-time format as the first eight seasons of the show, with periodic jumps forward in the day between episodes. On paper, this is great. Fans of the show get to reunite with their hero and undoubtedly watch him shoot, scream, defy order, survive unimaginable torture, and everything else Jack Bauer stands for. But to what extent is our excitement for this rooted in a nostalgia for something that’s already seen its best days? Are we getting our hopes up for something that’s doomed to yield diminishing returns? If that’s the case, do we really want to Live Another Day at all?
Don’t get me wrong. I loved 24. Although its formula became stale by the final season, the show always excelled at action-packed sequences, shocking twists, and how-did-he-do-it heroic victories that came with a serious toll. Jack was a tragic hero in the strongest sense of the term, and the ensemble around him was packed with great characters. No doubt, 24 was a hit.
What’s important to emphasize, though, is that I loved the show. Loved. Past tense. It’s gratifying to fondly recall Jack Bauer as an iconic figure of the post-9/11 aughts, as with any happy memory. But when you have a positive, yet removed lasting image of something in your head, it’s strange to bring it back into your life and expect things to be the same. Jack might be coming back, and the core aspects of his world might be relatively constant, but we as viewers have changed.