It's been seven months since Kiefer Sutherland saved the world (again). But beginning tomorrow night (Jan. 15), Jack Bauer himself is back from the dead (kind of) for another non-stop season of '24.'
The show has straddled the almost impossible line between being a favorite of critics and a ratings success. Last season's two-hour premiere was seen by 15.3 million viewers. Starting in January, instead of in September or October like most shows, allows the show to air continuously, without reruns – letting the show's buzz gain uninterrupted momentum each season.
And the show is no stranger to awards either. The show and its star, Kiefer Sutherland, have garnered Emmy nominations in each of their four seasons – though they've come up empty each time. Sutherland will be up for a Golden Globe this Monday as well; he won in 2002.
But while Kiefer is the face of '24,' the real star of the show is the real-time format. The show's 24 hour-long episodes are each one hour of one very long day in the life of Kiefer's character, Jack Bauer. Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, the executive producer of the entertainment news show, 'EXTRA,' says the format helps contribute to the show's "breathless pace."
"I think the time element is what you leaves you on the edge of your seat for the whole show," Gregorisch-Dempsey told TMZ. "It's a mechanism that always works."
And it's that mechanism that creates a breakneck pace from the outset that is unmatched by any show on TV... at least for now.
At least four shows are in the pipeline that will emulate '24's' format in some way. While no new show lately has been able to duplicate the soapy quality of 'Desperate Housewives' or the mystery of 'Lost,' the action-packed hour that is '24' might turn out to be a little easier to emulate.
A quick look at the '24'-influenced shows in production:
- 'Crisis' -- A real-time drama about a terrorist takeover of a luxury resort in South Beach. '24' with bikinis, perhaps?
- 'Heist' -- In the vein of 'Ocean's 11,' this one follows a group of thieves as they plan to simultaneously rob three Rodeo Drive jewelry stores. The entire season would focus on the one job; future seasons would focus on others.
- 'Kidnapped' -- Each episode of this show will be one day in the investigation of the kidnapping of a wealthy couple's son.
- 'Pilgrimage' -- This one also follows the real-time format, but it's a romantic triangle that plays out over the course of a cross-country flight.
So as '24' readies for its 5th season with a heavily-revamped cast (including Sean Astin, Jean Smart and the return of Elisha Cuthbert), we'll have to tune in next Fall to see if any other show can somehow channel their own inner Jack Bauer.