24 first episode: should Jack Bauer have come to London?

May 7, 2014

With EastEnders-style landlords, ploddy police and Downton villains, has 24 fallen into the cliche trap?

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for FOX

KIEFER SUTHERLAND is back as Jack Bauer for a ninth season of 24 following a four-year break – and this time he is in London. The actor claims the new series will show off a different side to the city from the one American audiences have previously seen in US shows such as Friends, Bones and The Simpsons.

Bauer and his sidekick Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub), who has become a hacktivist with a Wikileaks-style group, are trying to stop the assassination of the US president on British soil. But there will be no running around Big Ben or taking cover in Westminster Abbey, Sutherland tells the Evening Standard. Audiences are going to see a kind of London that is “more true” to the city, he says.

Vulture describes it as a “depressive blue-tinted London”, while Salon compares it to the “grim, gray streets of Europe” seen in Taken 2 and A Good Day to Die Hard.

The 24 producers seem to have “overcome the amazement of so many film-makers that public transport is double-decked and brightly coloured”, says Mark Lawson in The Guardian, but instead they have introduced a “fresh set of cliches about the city”.

Stephen Fry does an “enjoyable mash-up” of David Cameron and Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, he says, while a terrorist on the run takes refuge in “a London pub with a ‘blahdy’ landlord straight out of EastEnders”.

The apparent terrorist mastermind is “a posh lady, whose characterisation suggests that boxsets of Downton Abbey may have been a key research tool in the writers' room”, while the British police force is “well, ploddy”.

Lawson notes that, with Concorde no longer an option, the series is inevitably stuck in the UK for the duration as it would take several episodes to get anyone to or from the US. “By then, I suspect, many British viewers will be hoping that Jack can soon be extradited to his homeland.”

But in America, the LA Times thinks the “spiffed-up, post-Summer Olympics London” lends the reboot a “nice schematic as well as chronological distance, some very cool exteriors and the wild, improbable hope that Idris Elba's John Luther will show up — if only to lend Jack some more stylish outerwear”.

The Daily Telegraph’s Michael Hogan says it is fun to work out whether characters are being played by British actors or Americans putting on “dodgy accents”.

“Welcome back, Jack,” says Hogan. “We look forward to seeing you battle with London property prices, Tube strikes and Boris bikes.”

  • The first episode of 24 will be broadcast on Sky 1 at 9pm tonight

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