24: Legacy proves 24 without Jack Bauer can still be explosively entertaining

There may be a new man saving America from global terror, but not much else has changed in this smashing revival

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24 without Jack Bauer? For many (including myself, until yesterday) it’s completely unthinkable.

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Fox’s ground-breaking terror-foiling thrill-o-rama is ALL about Kiefer Sutherland’s grunting and “damn-its” – and if he’s not around to “go dark” and save the world whilst his own government are trying to bring him down… what’s going to happen in the TV show?

The answer: pretty much exactly the same stuff, but with another man doing it. Is this an issue? If you’re a 24 fan… oddly, no.

It seems the format is bigger than any one person; as 24: Legacy begins, the viewer is reminded that “events occur in real time” and is then immediately thrown back into a high-stakes world of terror plots, CTU and one man’s chaotic attempt to save America (and maybe the universe) from imminent apocalypse.

The new man is Eric Carter (played by Corey Hawkins), a former Army man who worked with CTU to bring down a terrorist super baddie, and now – along with his team of six – has had to change his identity for fear of reprisals.

But those reprisals have begun, and with most of his team already dead, Eric and his wife are faced with mortal danger as terrorists attack their home. But what do the terrorists really want? How can CTU (and its former chief Rebecca Ingram) help or hinder Eric? And how will all this be connected to her husband’s bid to become President?

It’s classic 24. Nothing is what it seems, and within minutes you’re embroiled in about seven concurrent plotlines, half of which you could do without, but because of the slick production, perfect pacing and unchanging commitment to the mantra that anything (usually the complete opposite of common sense) is allowed to justify the greater good – you can’t stop watching the screen.

However, despite the near shot-for-shot reboot of early 24, the creators of the show avoid the temptation to drop in references to the original. Eric Carter is not Jack Bauer’s long lost godson and no one in CTU seems aware of the previous tumultuous incidents that have been documented in previous series.

This is a good thing: you get new 24 without constant reminders you’re not watching old 24.

This is a franchise that emerged in America just weeks after 9/11 at a time when the world was changing at an incredible rate. But as the world has continued to change, 24 hasn’t really tried to keep up. It means that 24: Legacy, much like 24 as it continued with Kiefer Sutherland at the helm, is a simple piece of action television; not a documentary, nor a particularly notable piece of commentary on current American life. To be enjoyed fully, it needs to be watched with this in mind.

But one thing’s for sure, 24: Legacy is a show that no original 24 fan should miss.      

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24: Legacy airs on Fox in the UK at 9pm on Wednesdays