The first time I watched 24, I, like so many others, was immediately caught up in the “real-time” drama. The non-stop action, the constant fear of impending doom, the super evil bad guys, the badass and Black Denis Haybert from The Unit playing the president…yes, I loved it and eagerly awaited each installment with bated breath.
Then I made the mistake of attempting to watch it from the beginning again.
Sadly, I realized the show was both ridiculous and unwatchable with all of its odd little tropes and idiosyncrasies. For example, why whenever there was any type of intense situation did Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) suddenly start breathing as if he had just completed a triathlon? This labored breathing happened whether he was sitting down, standing still, lying on the ground — it was distracting and it made me wonder if Bauer was asthmatic. (He wasn’t. That’s just how Sutherland does in every show, every time.) Why, also, did he never eat or use the bathroom? Was Jack Bauer on meth?
How is it that Bauer never had any other way of getting to the truth of a matter than by torturing someone? Seriously?!?! He never had any other choice? Ever? And how many times did he say that line throughout the nine seasons? “Chloe, we don’t have a choice.” “There’s no other way.” “We’re running out of time and there’s no other option.” At least once an episode?
What the hell was wrong with CTU’s vetting process? How did all these double agents just keep getting hired season after season after season? You’d think an agency specifically in existence to stop terrorism would have enough resources and juice to do thorough, comprehensive, exhaustive background checks, but no, not CTU.
And obviously CTU employees had the power to bend space and time because Jack and his fellow agents regularly drove from downtown L.A. to the coast or Orange County or friggin Woodland Hills in under 15 minutes. Anyone who has ever lived in Metro L.A. understands the blatant impossibility of such commuting. If CTU really possessed such expert traffic dodging (without the use of sirens or wings), could not those logistical talents have bled into the other aspects of their work such as avoiding being on the brink of a terrorist attack every single season?
Look, I could write tomes on how crappy a show 24 actually was but that’s not the point here. The point is that the new iteration of this show stars a Black guy. Can you believe it? Eric Carter, army ranger, (played by Corey Hawkins of Straight Outta Compton fame) comes back home to the U.S. after successfully leading a mission to kill super terrorist leader guy Sheike Ibrahim Bin-Khalid. But once Carter gets back, he finds that he and his crew seriously have to watch their backs because Khalid’s homies want payback. Carter then taps good old CTU to avoid death and, of course, a monumental act of terrorism on American soil to boot.
Personally, I’m pleasantly surprised that FOX would take such a gamble on Corey Hawkins headlining this show. Hawkins, however, is not a household name with a cinematic career history similar or even comparable to Sutherland. Yes, everyone knows 24 but there’s going to be a lot of viewers who are like, “who’s this dude?” Still I want this show to succeed because I want to see an ongoing, here-to-stay trend of people of color in leading roles, especially in shows that don’t feature all Black and/or ethnic casts. Also, I want Black newcomers to be given the same fair and equal shot as their non-Black counterparts. We are just as talented as anyone else and shouldn’t have to possess some long, drawn-out resume to get the same breaks as others in Hollywood often do.
Finally, I’m excited to see a new crop of Black-tion heroes. Denzel Washington is getting long in the tooth and embarking on Liam Neeson/Harrison Ford territory. Wesley Snipes is a self-hating asshat. Will Smith…well, he’s embracing his softer, dramatic side and that’s probably for the best. I want to give Hawkins and others a chance to join the likes of Anthony Mackie and Chadwick Bozeman in this much-needed new era of ethnic-led asskicking.
So, this February, when 24: Legacy kicks off after the Super Bowl, let’s give it a chance. And be willing to ignore if CTU effs up.