Fifteen years after the iconic television series starring Kiefer Sutherland hit TV screens, and seven years since the last official episode of the series went off the air, Fox’s spin-off series, “24: Legacy” is attempting to breathe new life into the overcrowded and often overdone genre of television political thrillers.
Starring “Straight Outta Compton” actor Corey Hawkins, “24: Legacy” is an innovate, bold, and culturally relevant reboot of the original series. It’s also the first rendition of “24” that won’t star Sutherland in any capacity. As executive producer Brian Grazer said at the premiere party that I attended earlier this week, with everything going on in the world currently, “24: Legacy” serves as the perfect port of escapism.
The pilot opens with a very gruesome bang, and the action goes non-stop until the final second on the clock calls the episode to a close. Hawkins stars as Eric Carter, an Army Ranger who has gone into hiding with his wife Nicole (“Greenleaf’s” Anna Diop). After returning to US soil following a classified mission in Afghanistan that killed terrorist Bin-Khalid and prevented an attack in the States, Eric and Nicole are looking for a fresh start. Unfortunately, it seems like everything Eric did during that fateful mission is coming back to haunt him.
With this help of his former commander, Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto), head of the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) who is supposed to be stepping down from her role to support her husband in his bid for Presidency, Eric must figure out how to save himself and the country that he serves. In an interview with TV Guide, executive producer Manny Coto said that “24 Legacy” was inspired by the Navy SEALS who killed Osama bin Ladan and the trauma that they felt during the months following the raid.
Admittedly, the structure of “24: Legacy” does not completely separate it from the original series or anything “Homeland,” “Quantico,” or any other political thriller currently on television is doing. And yet, Hawkins’ energy and swag make him entirely watchable. Hawkins’ Eric Carter isn’t Sutherland’s older more seasoned Jack Bauer, and that works in his favor. Viewers will watch not just for the intricate story lines but also to see Hawkins’ throw himself into every stunt and situation that comes at him. Though the original “24” will forever hold its place in the landmark of television, the shows’ pilots when juxtaposed against one another prove that “Legacy” is going for an entirely different tone. Like its predecessor, there are split screens, multiple subplots and the entire season unfolds over the course of one day, but there is something more urgent and virile about Hawkins in the Washington D.C. setting than the Los Angeles CTU that Jack Bauer called home.
It’s not just the tone of the series that sets it apart from the original; it is the rapid pace of the show and the women on it who command the screen. Miranda Otto, a “Homeland” alum who plays Ingram is ballsy, fearless and whip smart. Senegalese actress Anna Diop who is worlds away from her role as the scorn Isabel on OWN’s “Greenleaf,” is a nurse who is more than willing to put it all on the line while trying to help her husband fight his demons. Nicole is ready and able to fight for her man and her life; something that becomes even more evident when people from her the past begin to resurface.
The series is not short on talent either, though Hawkins is the face of the spin-off, “Scandal” alum Dan Bucatinsky and veteran actor Jimmy Smits, who plays Rebecca Ingram’s husband, Senator John Donovan also round out the series. Fans of the original “24” will also be pleased to know that Sutherland is on board as executive producer; a decision that he did not make lightly. Additionally, there are a few connections between the first series and this new one. For example, CTU analyst Marian Stiles (Coral Peña) is the cousin of late tech whiz Edgar Stiles, and the wall of stars in the CTU D.C. office honors fallen agents from the previous series.
Unfortunately, one choice that made me roll my eyes was Eric Carter’s older brother, Issac (Ashley Thomas), a violent drug dealer who has his own past with Eric’s wife, Nicole. They could have given the brother any other occupation; the gangster role is beyond stereotypical, played out and rarely ever done well on primetime television. Another questionable choice in the pilot is a subplot involving a high school student with a sinister agenda. Having seen only one episode, I was left more bewildered than intrigued.
And yet, the nostalgic aspects of “24 Legacy” will rope OG fans in and Hawkins’ charisma will keep new fans intrigued. Overall, it looks like “24: Legacy” is a sound origin story of a reluctant CTU agent. With three Black main characters, interesting story lines and an abundance of talent, you’ll definitely want to keep tuning in. That is if you can handle the tension in the series, in addition to the real-life traumas that are occurring around us every day.
“24: Legacy” will debut after the Super Bowl this Sunday, February 5th, and then move to its regular time slot Monday, February 6 at 8 PM on FOX.
Watch a 7-minute extended look at the new series below:
Aramide A Tinubu has her Master’s in Film Studies from Columbia University. She wrote her thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger, and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami