TV Guide’s Matt Roush asks “Can 24 Live Without Jack?”

Jack Bauer cell phone Season 1

Question: 24 has been in the news lately due to its massive budget, including its well-paid main actor. I can understand the network needing to watch its budget, especially with a show that, while still performing well, is not pulling in the ratings it was a few years ago. Kiefer Sutherland has openly spoke about his desire to play Jack Bauer on the big screen for some time now, making his departure (if not the show’s) more likely. 24 has reinvented itself many times in the past, usually with good results, and losing Jack Bauer could breathe new life into the show. Annie Wersching is certainly capable of taking over the lead role, possibly the most capable person 24 has had for such a task. Do you think a cheaper, Jack-less incarnation of 24 is possible, and do you think audiences will go for it?—Todd

Matt Roush: Let’s hope it never comes to that. What’s happening now is the first round of negotiations playing out in the press. In the new issue of TV Guide Magazine, Howard Gordon tells us, “It will require several weeks of serious discussion among cast members and executives to make that determination [about whether and how to continue].” There’s no question the show is expensive; the cost is all on the screen. If Fox (network and studio) can figure out how to keep the production economically viable, I’m sure they’ll do what they can to keep it on the schedule, where it’s such an essential asset in the back half of the season. Personally, I can’t see 24 existing without Jack Bauer. It would be like going to a James Bond movie and having 009 show up. That said, there may be a movement afoot to prove that, like ER or Law & Order or CSI (to name a few), maybe the format and franchise is the star here, and 24 can keep the clock running with a new hero. (Much as I like Annie Wersching, I don’t see taking over the lead position.) Again, if that happens, I think we’ll likely see a replay of those Mulder-less seasons of The X-Files, and do we really want that?

Source: TV Guide Magazine