Fox's former flagship drama 24 has been revived with 24: Live Another Day, a 12-episode "event" series that spotlights spy duo Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub four years after the anti-terrorism drama went off the air.
Also featuring Kim Raver, William Devane, Michael Wincott, Yvonne Strahovski, Benjamin Bratt, Tate Donovan, Gbenga Akinnagbe and Giles Matthey, the Howard Gordon show returns to television on Monday night.
Read what top critics are saying about 24: Live Another Day.
The Hollywood Reporter's chief TV critic, Tim Goodman, who openly admitted having long-standing issues with the Emmy-winning series, assured diehard fans of Sutherland's Jack Bauer that "the old charms are there – four years and better dramas abounding do not dim them." Four years later, the same "adrenaline-fueled fluffery" is entertaining: "Anyone who fist-pumped to 'Jack Is Back' knows that the allure of the series is in our hero (OK, sure, antihero), beating all odds to escape some incredibly complex jams and save the world from complete doom." Since the "event" series does not have 24 episodes, "the number is just part of the title now, though the dramatic thumping of the clock and all the split-screens that defined the series when it premiered in 2001 are back."
Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times wrote that the franchise might have been better off untouched: "The show is more of the same that filled all the days that came before, and that’s not always desirable." While Stanley noted that the original 24's writing was "often prescient" and "paved the way for many other smart political thrillers" like Homeland and The Americans, Live Another Day relies on what it knows, as "the writers rejiggered the usual elements, blending one-dimensional heroes and villains with complicated cinematic stunts and sophisticated acts of violence ... so much of what seemed new when the series began now seems dated."
Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times noted that the new post-Summer Olympics London location doesn't make Jack Bauer seem as old and out of date: "The locale lends the reboot a nice schematic as well as chronological distance, some very cool exteriors and the wild." To describe the revival, "delight may be a better word. It's always good to see an old friend, and an old pro in action. Live Another Day gives us both. Twelve episodes may be enough, but who knows."
Time's James Poniewozik recalled that 24's eight-season longevity "came partly because it adapted its thriller format to the current concerns of the moment each season" with headline-friendly plots, torture scenes and extreme measures; that the new 24‘s storyline "involves drones, anti-surveillance groups, and the suspicion of government power is a change of subject, then, but not of format.… If you want a 24 very much like the show that went off the air in 2010, it will please you; if you’ve forgotten much about the show in the intervening four years, it might surprise you."
USA Today's Robert Bianco gave the series' return three stars out of four, "with Sutherland quickly proving that Jack Bauer's ability to snap necks, and the star's ability to add gravitas to absurd situations, remain intact." While the first two episodes feature Rajskub's Chloe rocking a gothic look that seems "a bit misguided," and "no sign of the show's two most tired tropes -- the agency mole and the White House conspirator -- the revival so far includes of all the things you love (or don't) about 24."
24: Live Another Day premieres Monday at 8 p.m. on Fox.