This time, 24’s Jack Bauer only needs 12 hours to save the world

Jack Bauer is on the run from the CIA and Chloe O’Brien has turned into an Edward Snowden-esque character.
Jack Bauer is on the run from the CIA and Chloe O’Brien has turned into an Edward Snowden-esque character.
Image: AP Photo/Charles Sykes
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PASADENA, California—Jack Bauer has run out of locations in America to wreak havoc on, so the star of 24 is headed to London.

The former Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agent, last seen in 2010 when 24 ended its run after eight seasons (each of which covered 24 chaotic hours of his life, in real time), will return to FOX this spring. 24: Live Another Day, debuting May 5, is a 12-episode “limited series” that will still play out in real time and encompass a 24-hour day. Executive producers says they’ll skip time in between episodes.

The production starts shooting in London in a couple weeks, and star Kiefer Sutherland admits that things could get ugly for commuters during filming. “I’m anxious about it. Traffic there is difficult. We plan to be shooting outside. Things will be blowing up,” said Sutherland, speaking at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour. “I’m sure we’ll be hated by a large portion of London for snarling up their traffic. I apologize in advance.”

While 24 faked previous locations like New York City and Washington, DC, still shooting those seasons from its home base Los Angeles, it was essential to shoot Live Another Day in London, executive producer Howard Gordon told Quartz. “It’s harder to fake London. …Nothing beats being there and ultimately we really wanted to shoot the city. The other ones we were able to cheat. Washington was cheatable, New York was less easy to cheat and I think maybe a little less successful. Between that, tax breaks and the fun of it, we said ‘let’s do it.’”

Live Another Day will pick up four years after the events of season 8, where Jack is still “a fugitive of high order,” said executive producer Manny Coto, and is being hunted by a CIA agent, played by Chuck’s Yvonne Strahovski. Meanwhile, his longtime CTU ally Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) has “turned against the government and has turned into a radical, Snowden-like character,” said Coto, meaning that Jack and Chloe are now pitted against each other.

Yet despite Bauer’s significant backstory, “you can pick this series up without having seen season 8, or the show at all,” said executive producer Manny Coto. That said, it’s not just you: Not even the producers can keep track of all the show’s various twists and turns over the years. “Sometimes we have to check Wikipedia” to see if the characters are still alive, says Coto.

While Sutherland and the producers spent the years after 24’s conclusion trying to launch a feature film, those plans has been backburned in favor of the “limited series,” which follows a different script than the movie, Sutherland said. Live Another Day is conceived as a standalone limited series,  but “if this ends up rebooting the show and causes a film to be made, so be it,” said Sutherland.

And if that happens, no major city will be safe from explosions and snarled traffic.