The program “24:Legacy” represents Fox’s attempt to reboot the classic post-9/11 patriotic, kick-the-terrorists’-butts, Keifer Sutherland-starring hit series that ran for nine seasons and won praises from conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh.
It is too early to tell how the series will unfold — only two episodes have aired so far, including a post-Super Bowl premiere. There are a few things to like about it thus far, and some indications that the producers of the show don’t exactly share the same conservative values the original showrunners did, including vocal Limbaugh fan and Republican donor Joel Surnow. However, the signals thus far are decidedly mixed.
There are some indications the producers of the show don’t exactly share the same conservative values the original showrunners did.
The show’s star, Corey Hawkins, is a solid actor and happens to be black. There are times when color-blind casting is appropriate, and other times when casting by specific ethnicity makes sense. What matters is just one thing: Does it serve the story? Executive producers Manny Coto and Evan Katz hinted in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter that Hawkins’ experiences as a black man will play into the new show’s storylines.
“There’s the reality of the stop-and-frisk, and we thought it would be interesting if our hero could use it to his advantage … It’s something our hero has that’s different from Jack Bauer. He has a different life experience than Jack Bauer. It’s something we wanted to explore,” the producers said.
That approach can certainly serve the story. Contrasting Hawkins’ new character — named Carter — with Sutherland’s Bauer is something that should be done anyway. If that contrast happens to include race, so much the better, as long as the show doesn’t become didactic in the process.
In parsing quotes by three of the series’ producers, we should keep an eye out for what happens to be good storytelling and what happens to be leftist messaging that will chill half the nation’s audiences to the re-boot.
Executive producer Katz told The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s ultimately a story about an American hero and an American patriot who in a way is a victim of the war on terror. He went to fight it and he’s having trouble reintegrating. It’s a statement about all kinds of Americans from all different backgrounds who are in the military and are heroes.”
That’s something any viewer can get behind, assuming the execution delivers on the intent. We know from experience that Katz is a solid writer who worked on the original right-leaning series. On the other hand — Federal Election Commission records show him to have made frequent donations to Democrats.
Executive producer Coto told Variety, “I like to say the series begins as if it was written by Trump, but it ends as if it were written by Hillary. It’s not going where you think it’s going. A lot of people who might be thinking they know what we’re doing … they really don’t. It’ll be an interesting reaction. I’m looking forward to seeing how the totality of the season plays out in people’s minds.”
That is a quote that might obviously be worrisome to some of the show’s original conservative fans. It’s also potentially short-sighted. Coto is being coy, either rushing to reassure the leftist media that all will be well, since the original series earned much ire from the Left and the media for its depiction of the war on terror. Or perhaps he’s playing a good game of PR to keep viewers guessing.
Coto is an exceptional writer — also part of the original series — and has only one FEC record: a $400 contribution to Trump.
Also working on the series is perhaps one of television’s best writers, Howard Gordon. He was deeply involved in the original “24,” and is the co-creator of many conservatives’ favorite pay-cable series, “Homeland.” Gordon seems to be wise to how things work in Hollywood and the media, and told The New York Times in an interview: “Against the backdrop of Ferguson and Black Lives Matter, here is a character who has fought for a country that has in some ways abandoned him. He’s squaring a question for himself: Is this place even worth defending?”
Sounds like cake for leftists, and Gordon has donated frequently over the years to the Democrats. Gordon, however, has a track record demonstrating that his political beliefs do not usually impact his storytelling skills. He knows his audience, and likely won’t forget them with this new series.
So let’s give “24:Legacy” the chance it deserves, on the basis of solid storytelling. One hopes it will be a great show and not annoy half the country with messages nobody really wants to hear.