24 might be returning to the small screen — but with one major change. During a recent TCA press tour, network execs revealed that Fox is considering developing another installment of the popular real-time action drama. The catch? The show’s star, Kiefer Sutherland, may not be involved.
According to Deadline, the network has been pitched a followup to last summer’s spinoff miniseries, 24: Live Another Day. Considering that the series finale of Live Another Day ended up drawing more viewers than the show’s official ending four years ago, it’s no surprise that Fox is seriously contemplating the possibility of yet another installment. Unfortunately for fans, Sutherland has recently made it clear that he doesn’t plan on returning to the franchise, telling The Telegraph that the 12-episode season of Live Another Day was meant as a way “to end the show and deal with some of the past history of the show.”
Still, Fox doesn’t seem put off by the actor’s apparently lukewarm feelings about returning to the series. “We have discussed it with him,” Fox Chairman and CEO Dana Walden said of the possibility of another followup during the TCA press tour. “We talk to Kiefer all the time. He’s a great creative partner, potentially he won’t be in this installment. We’re not sure yet. We’re not that far along, but I know he supports us doing more 24.”
Walden later clarified the idea, saying: “We’re not talking about continuing the show without [Sutherland]. We’re talking about whether there’s one installment that he’s not in.”
Even if it’s only one more installment that the network is considering, the question remains: Can 24 really work without Jack Bauer? Fox certainly seems to think so. “I think if the storytelling is exciting enough, that real-time element that the show really owns — so many of the production aspects are so unique to that show — I do [think we could do it without him],” Walden said. “I think [it could be] great characters with that creative team. I look at everyone that’s surrounded Kiefer in the last installment and I think it could work.”
As expected, the idea has garnered mixed reactions from longtime fans of the show. While some seem excited at the prospect of more 24 even without its star, most argue that it’s Sutherland’s Bauer — not the real-time element of the series — that gives the show its heart. After nine seasons of the actor’s spot-on portrayal of a tortured super-agent who sacrifices everything for the sake of the greater good, it’s hard to think anyone will really be able to fill his shoes. Some are even comparing the idea of 24 without Sutherland to the attempted continuation of the Bourne franchise: Despite Jeremy Renner’s best efforts, the action series just isn’t the same without star Matt Damon.
Still, it seems fans shouldn’t give up all hope of Sutherland’s return. While the actor doesn’t currently seem too enthused about the possibility of reprising his famed role, Walden said the potential new season will leave the door open for him should he change his mind. “It was very early in the origin stages and it could’ve gone either way,” she said of the pitch during the TCA panel. “Jack Bauer could come in very organically in the story, or [producers are] prepared to do something that would be the one installment without him.”
Whether Sutherland will eventually decide to return to the franchise is anyone’s guess at this point. In the meantime, the actor is keeping busy. In addition to lending his voice to several characters to the video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the star is also set to star alongside Demi Moore and Donald Sutherland in this year’s upcoming Western drama, John Henry Clayton.