#24, #LiveAnotherDay and Why the Story Writing Matters
After eight seasons, 24 ended…or so we thought. Maybe it was the cult following, perhaps it was the ad revenue potential, more than likely it was a lack of good copycat shows but most of all it was the quality of the script, storyline, premise and character interaction that made it come back.
Most “sequels”, movie adaptations of TV shows and re-creations of TV successes (especially in the 60’s and 70’s before reality TV) are rarely successful and/or entertaining. Further, Hollywood’s meddling based on their belief that they knew what the masses want rather than what the audience desires has delivered mindless drivel and repeat stories that were mostly re-hashing a previously successful (or profitable) series (namely 24).
On Monday the 5th, Fox is bringing back counter terrorist bad boy Jack Bauer and 24 for twelve episodes in Live Another Day. Let me disclose that this genre is one if not my favorite to watch. That being said, there have been many opportunities to watch knock offs, but they haven’t captured the essence of 24. I attribute this to the writing, screenplay, conflict, reaching out to grip the audience’s emotional involvement and reality of what this show represents. Specifically it is good vs. evil, but is complicated by the personal strife and loss and moral decisions suffered by the lead character in his quest.
The storyline is to save the day in 24 hours, a simple premise. Numerous roadblocks get in the way many caused by the protagonist’s employer, not to mention having to decide which is the right path given limited information which must be sifted and decided on by experience and gut instinct. Jack does his job to protect the world despite whatever collateral damage happens to anyone near him
Where the writers excel though is in the interaction between characters. They frequently must choose to either go with Jack or against him based on orders they obey or disobey. This incriminates them legally or emotionally and inhibits their ability to help the cause of dealing with the bad guys.
Some may have issues with the violence or the all to realistic depictions of interrogation. From a micro point of view it can be intimidating, but from the macro level and overall storyline perspective it is as much a part of the story as any character would be. It peels back the layers of a person who will go to any length to protect the greater public, or a specific person (usually a politician of high ranking) which revels in right vs. wrong decisions. Jack has a crappy day and has to live through it.
It is a classical example of Ironist writing. The last act climax is both positive and negative. Jack always saves the day, yet he loses his family, relationships, job and other personal parts of his life.
Is Jack there to save or assassinate the president? That is what we will be led to be confused by when it starts. Nevertheless, he is willing to risk his life and freedom to avert yet another global disaster.
So hats off to Evan Katz and Manny Coto who wrote and produced it. Also Howard Gordon is the lead writer who worked on many other episodes and I admire his work.
Besides enjoying the good vs. evil in this years story, I will be closely watching how the writers build the tension, connect to the audience and develop the story to the last act climax.