One of the most touted aspects of 24: Live Another Day was the newfound freedom to skip hours. But it seems that was more challenging than the writers originally envisioned and the first two-thirds of the season will take place consecutively just like prior seasons.
The 12-episode season, half its usual length, is “a little bit faster and a little more intense,” Rajskub says, while Sutherland likens it to “concentrated orange juice.”
But some issues remain unchanged. The shorter season, still confined to a single 24-hour day, was designed to allow writers the flexibility to skip through time here and there, but the first eight episodes are set in consecutive hours.
“I thought it was going to be an amazing opportunity to go, ‘Hey, next week we’re going to be in Istanbul,'” Sutherland says.
“It seemed like a liberating idea at the time,” says executive producer Howard Gordon, “until you try to do that. The sweaters are interwoven tightly,” so stopping multiple story lines and later accounting for the passage of time proved too difficult. “There were more moving parts than we imagined.”
The final episodes still haven’t been written, and producers are running into the same plotting hurdles in the same spot, two-thirds of the way to the finish line, despite having half as many episodes. Turns out that fewer installments provide “less runway to land the plane,” metaphorically speaking, Gordon says. “You can’t mold chapter and verse how things are going to morph; there’s still a bit of improvisation.”
But the persistent obstacle “surprised me immensely,” Sutherland says. “That dynamic hasn’t shifted. The challenges from telling a story in real time are what they are. It’s still a bend to try to finish it, and now we’re trying to make the shift.”
And somehow fill the rest of Jack’s bad day. “In the end, it might be me on one long flight for 11 hours from London to L.A.”
As for the future of 24? Different people are saying different things.
Could Jack come back yet again? “Anything’s possible, if the audience responds to it,” Gordon says. “I think it’s something we’d all be open to.”
Except Sutherland, who’s 47. “My bones are creaking. What am I going to do, Jack Bauer in a walker? So, yeah, this is it. For me, it’s done.”