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'24: Legacy' may be even better than the original TV series

Agencies | Updated: 2017-02-09 07:38

'24: Legacy' may be even better than the original TV series

Corey Hawkins is the new hero saving the day in 24: Legacy. [Photo/Agencies]

It's no secret that TV has a habit of recycling past hits.

This has always been the case with television. And now, among the nearly 500 scripted series overwhelming the viewer, TV reboots aren't going away.

A natural response to this TV echo chamber is to treat each rehashed series as another sign of creative bankruptcy.

But not always.

Fox is clocking in with 24: Legacy, which premiered on Sunday after the Super Bowl. Surprise! 24: Legacy is a blast! Judging from the first three episodes, it's at least as good as the series that inspired it.

The original 24, which premiered in the fall of 2001 with Kiefer Sutherland as its star, tracked counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer through eight seasons of 24 hourlong episodes that spanned a full day in real-time storytelling as he literally saved the day while sloughing off physical abuse that would've put Superman in intensive care.

Now it's Sergeant Eric Carter who's having a horrible, no good, very bad day. Or actually, HALF-day: This 24 spans a dozen episodes stretching 12 continuous hours.

Played by Corey Hawkins, Carter is the new indefatigable hero. He's joined by an all-new group of characters including Rebecca Ingram (played by Miranda Otto), a brilliant intelligence officer who has just stepped down from her post as National Director of the Counter-Terrorism Unit to devote her full energies to the presidential campaign of her husband, Senator John Donovan (Jimmy Smits), whose longtime campaign director may or may not threaten his candidacy-and the nation.

The trouble started six months ago in Yemen, where Carter led an elite squad of US Army Rangers to kill terrorist leader Sheik Bin-Khalid. After that, Bin-Khalid's followers struck back with a fatwah against Carter, his squad and their families, which forced them all into federal witness protection.

But in the premiere, Carter, living with his wife in peaceful, boring secrecy, learns to his horror that his team's new whereabouts have all been compromised. Payback against them and multiple attacks against the US are in the works.

It may be hard to recall, but 24 was an enormously innovative and ambitious series when it launched. There's a real ship-in-a-bottle challenge to crafting a complex, action-packed thriller sufficiently contained in time and space that it can unfold coherently, minute-by-ticking-minute, while it keeps its leading man in the center of the fray.

By the time Jack Bauer wheezed through one final 12-hour round of derring-do in 2014, it would have been reasonable to conclude that this once-groundbreaking format had, like Bauer, run its course-and also reasonable to think that Jack Bauer was essential to the 24 franchise.

Wrong on both counts. The sturdy format of 24 proves here to be surprisingly resilient. Replenished with new faces, the original formula is back not just intact but in full force.

In the highly capable hands of Hawkins-as-Carter and his fellow cast of characters, 24: Legacy outpaces pesky reason. It's a fresh burst of adrenaline, a breathless whiz-bang romp that guarantees you'll be on high alert until the clock strikes 12.

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