Feeling conflicted about the return of Jack Bauer tonight in '24'

Here are my two conflicting thoughts on tonight's "24: Live Another Day."

First, I cannot remember the last sequel to a major series that did as smart as job as this one in picking up old threads of theme and character and adapting them for today.


That said, I started the screener with almost no interest in finding out what Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) was up to after four years off the grid, and I ended up caring less after I knew.

I don't know if that's a function of Bauer, a character who once spoke so profoundly to a nation beset by post- 9/11 jitters, not having the same relevance today – or viewers like me having moved on and come to understand that our nation's problems are far too complex to be redeemed by any kind of hero. Now that we know Jack can't save us, who cares about him and all his crazy demons? The Jack-as-wounded-hero archetype had been wrung dry long ago, and "Live Another Day" does nothing to find new life for it.


More interesting than what Jack's been up to is the change in Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), uber-Bauer-devotee and computer geek.

Chloe's gone Goth and she's working as a hacker for a Wiki Leaks style operation. I like the Edward Snowden notes that the producers hit with that new profession for Chloe a lot. That's what I mean about picking old threads of theme and characters and adapting them for today.

What I don't like is the comic-booky look and tone with which they present Chloe. The same thing happened with Season 2 "House of Cards," which for all its verisimilitude in other aspects of American life, created a hacker storyline the looks and feels like something out of "Batman." I'm just guessing here, but I'll bet not all folks who feel some government secrets should be revealed look and act as if they are heading to a Comic-Con convention dressed as their favorite character.

The producers say "24: Live Another Day" is only a 12-episode miniseries, so Fox is not trying for the massive commitment from viewers that the original series earned. That's a good thing, because I am pretty sure they won't get it.

I don't think I'll be back next week. But then, I don't like sequels. They are almost always made for the wrong reason: money. And they mostly diminish memories of series and characters I once loved.

"24: Live Another Day" airs at 8 tonight on Fox45.