We Watch the New Bauer-less “24: Legacy” So You Don’t Have To

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Your gun-holding technique is good Corey but still not as good as Kiefer’s.

Kevin: The Super Bowl wasn’t the only action going on last Sunday, as Fox chose to give the coveted post-game time slot to its revamped version of “24” without long-time star Kiefer Sutherland as the unkillable Jack Bauer. In our earlier rundown of Bauer’s greatest hits over the years we expressed some doubts about whether new lead Corey Hawkins could adequately fill Bauer’s shoes, but we at Tough Guy Digest are nothing if not open-minded, so we decided to give the re-titled “24: Legacy” a chance.

Taking place in the same universe as the original series but with no mention of Bauer’s past heroics so far, the new version sees former Army Ranger Eric Carter go on the run with his wife Nicole after members of a terror group – seeking revenge for the killing of their leader – start picking off the rest of his unit. Helping him is outgoing CTU head Rebecca Ingram, who is also married to a presidential candidate played by Jimmy Smits, because presidential campaigns have to be a subplot in one out of three seasons of “24.” So Mike, as the biggest “24” fan among us, does this new reboot stake its own ground, or is it a watered-down version of a much-better original?

Mike: Before I go into my overall thoughts, I’ll honor the “events happen in real time” format of the show by offering some notes I took in real time myself of the first hour:

  • Eric Carter, aka “New Jack Bauer” (Anthony, is that racist because he’s black? I need a ruling!), is upset because his wife is on birth control even though she said she would stop taking it so they can have a baby. She basically says she’s not sure if she trusts him enough to make a baby with him. Despite this, New Jack offers to make her breakfast. Pussy whipped!
  • Eric’s wife thinks he has PTSD. Eric thinks she’s an annoying bitch who won’t have his baby and spends all his money on moisturizer. Who do you think gets more grief?
  • Eric is living in hiding under an assumed name and acting as personal security for the “1 percent” as he calls them. Seems to me that if you’re in hiding you probably shouldn’t take a job that’s in your wheelhouse and located 45 seconds away from Washington, D.C.
  • KNOCK OUT COUNTER: Eric is knocked unconscious about 10 minutes into the first episode. By my calculations, the old Jack Bauer has been knocked unconscious around 110 times. This time around I’m keeping score.
  • Kiefer Sutherland is serving as executive producer. (Kevin: I’m sure he has as much input as McConaughey and Harrelson had as executive producers in “True Detective” Season 2; i.e. he cashed a check.)
  • Same writers, producers, and director as the original series. Get ready, there’s a totally new viewpoint coming at ya!
  • Ibrahim bin-Khalid (this show’s version of Osama bin Laden) is killed by the same chick from the series “Homeland” and hit film “Zero Dark Thirty.” Talk about being typecast into a specific role. Sorry, I can only play a savvy government CIA shot caller! (Kevin: Apparently Mike can’t tell the difference between Miranda Otto and Jessica Chastain.)
  • Carter changes out of his suit and into his Jack Bauer uniform of a grey long-sleeve t-shirt and messenger bag full of C4.
  • Eric forces his wife into the attic and then yanks the attic cord and it comes right off. Those things are designed to be yanked on, so what gives?
  • Looks like we have a new Chloe O’Brien this season, a barely out-of-college Arab in a red flannel shirt because the CTU office dress code apparently doesn’t apply to her.  Oh and also we are told her cousin was the late fan favorite Edgar Stiles, a cheap callback and a steamy turd left on Edgar’s memory.
  • Eric’s wife Nicole kills a trained assassin. Normally I would say this wasn’t possible, but I also didn’t think it was possible for the Patriots to come back from a 28-3 deficit before this show aired.
  • We keep hearing that Rebecca is leaving CTU. Let me guess, she won’t end up leaving CTU!
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Miranda Otto or Jessica Chastain? Don’t ask Mike.

  • I’m glad to see CTU has the same lighting issues it’s always had, including a pitch-black office. There’s better lighting in an arcade from the 90’s.
  • Eric can’t trust anyone in the government to protect his wife, so he leaves her with a bunch of South Central drug dealers, because his brother Isaac runs a street gang that apparently is more powerful than the radical Islamic state.
  • His criminal brother blames Eric for the death of their father. Also, before they were married, Eric’s wife used to be with his brother . This is season 1-6 of “24” in under 15 minutes.
  • I love characters that explain everything in every sentence. “Senator is your wife calling you again with these crazy theories? You should tell her it’s time to go back to the mental hospital she goes to to forget her stillborn child … I hope I’m not overstepping my bounds.”
  • Rebecca stunguns her replacement! She’ll never keep her job after this. NO WAY!
  • The strongbox that Eric’s Ranger comrade Grimes stole from bin-Khalid, and which the terrorists now want back, is like four inches deep. There’s a false bottom that is two inches deep, but for some reason no one ever noticed this. It contains a USB drive that Eric can see instantly on his cell phone. Glad technology hasn’t changed much.
  • Oh my God! So they’re at a construction site and Eric shoots the cable off a huge section of pipe, which rolls perfectly down a hill towards the terrorists like Indiana Jones trying to outrun the boulder.

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Kevin: I watched most of the first episode (missed the last 15 minutes because the Super Bowl post-game went long) and all of the second. Here are my real-time thoughts:

  • Two things have also not changed in the world of “24”: Trying to pass off southern California as D.C., New York, Paris, etc., and heroes who drive dependable Ford trucks.
  • According to what we see on this show, the best an Army Ranger can look forward to is having to go into hiding after serving his country. The only other option apparently is being homeless.
  • So Eric is not even a CTU agent yet? Over/under on how long he is basically running the agency by the end?
  • Let’s go back to the late Edgar Stiles’ cousin at CTU. First of all she looks like this:

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While Edgar looked like this:

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I really want to see the Stiles family reunion, cause apparently it must look like an old Benetton ad:

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  • The newest Stiles on the block also overhears one of the CTU personnel talking about how unqualified she is, not because she’s a particularly good spy, but because he makes no effort to talk about her in private and out of earshot. As we will see over the next two hours, this is will be a recurring theme.
  • After a loud gun battle in their suburban neighborhood home, Eric and his wife Nicole drive off and we see that a couple is pushing a stroller past their house and apparently is totally unaware of what has been going on. (Hopefully this doesn’t reinforce any racist stereotypes the neighbors may have had when the Carters moved in.)
  • Eric to the head of CTU: “Right now I’m the only one I can trust.” Considering what a shrew she has been up to now, I’m shocked his wife sitting right next to him didn’t chew him out for that comment through the next two commercial breaks.
  • Mary, Degrassi High’s token Chechen terrorist, is confronted in the hallway by her ex-boyfriend. It took me until the second episode to figure out that he was supposed to be her ex, as the actor playing him is extremely gay.
  • The ex tells a teacher (who we later find out is having an affair with Mary after they meet in a very public place right in the middle of school) that she’s been texting “terrorist stuff” about “the struggle” and America as oppressors. Or she could just be sucking up to some America-hating hippie history teacher. This is why you send your kids to private school folks!
  • Apparently Eric’s brother Isaac is the head of the largest criminal gang in Los Ange … I mean Arlington, Virginia. Also apparently Eric and Issac were big fans of the movie “Ricochet,” as they have decided to copy the dynamic between Denzel Washington and Ice-T to the letter.
  • It’s hard for me to take the strung-out homeless turncoat Grimes seriously as a former badass Army Ranger considering he’s played by the twerp son from the Robin Williams-Billy Crystal abomination “Father’s Day”:

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  • Thought it was a tad unlikely that that chick was supposed to be Edgar Stiles’ cousin? Well get a load of this: Apparently Gerald McRaney is supposed to be Jimmy Smits’ father! I actually had to rewind to make sure I wasn’t imagining that, but within seconds of them meeting Smits is like, “Thanks for throwing this party Dad” and McRaney is all, “Of course my son.” They can call each other son and dad 30 more times on this show but I still will never buy it.

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Yep, I can totally see the resemblance:

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  • While hiding out with her drug kingpin brother-in-law/former lover, Eric’s wife changes out of her nurse’s scrubs and into a sexy red dress. Because you definitely want to be wearing the latter if you may have to flee from terrorists as you’ve already had to do once so far today.
  • Isaac sure does have his plate full this morning, what with his estranged brother dropping off his ex for protection from terrorists on the same morning that he is supposed to do a “major deal” that will somehow “put him back on top.” When Nicole worries about what her presence is doing to his current girlfriend Aisha, Isaac helpfully explains that “after this deal me and Aisha are through.” I’m not judging Isaac’s qualities as a boyfriend, but once again maybe don’t say that with the door open and Aisha standing five feet away.
  • Of course if anybody should have learned a lesson from that it’s Aisha, yet she gets on the phone with Isaac’s rival to double-cross him and have him killed without noticing that Nicole was just a few feet away herself and overhearing the entire conversation.
  • Speaking of which, Mary the terrorist and her accomplice teacher start making out in his classroom with the door wide open and are promptly caught by her ex, who is quickly killed after two hits to the back of his head.
  • Here is where the lack of Kiefer Sutherland really hurts this show and why I’m probably going to tap out for a while on this new version: Eric’s old Ranger buddy Grimes has announced that he wants $2 million or he’s turning over an important list to the terrorists. After his brother makes an off-hand comment about how the cops recently made a big drug bust and confiscated a few million in cash, Eric decides immediately that the best course of action will be to take a couple of cops hostage and break into the police station to steal the money, all of which occurs in less time than it took me to write my thoughts on this episode. Also this will likely have no bearing on the next episode, as Eric will get the money but Grimes will probably get killed at the exchange, making the whole storyline pointless.

If this was fifth-season Jack Bauer doing this we would applaud how awesomely stupid such a plan was and wait in anticipation for the badass way Jack would somehow complete his absurd mission. But with Eric the bland Army Ranger we have barely gotten to know, the whole thing seems less awesomely stupid and more just plain stupid. Sorry Eric, you may earn your stripes later this season, but right now you are no Jack Bauer.

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Come back Jack!

Mike: I watched all of the second episode as well, and I was severely disappointed. I wasn’t even expecting too much in terms of entertainment in the first place, and yet it failed even on that level. Kevin, you’re absolutely right about what’s going to happen after Eric gets that $2 million, which he really is taking on faith is even there in the first place. What if the money isn’t there? Or what if it’s on it’s way to court or in the custody of the detectives who are looking at the evidence for that huge case they just finished?

Seems to me the better plan would be to pretend you have the money and then meet Grimes and capture him. Especially since you and I both know he’ll be killed by a sniper two minutes later anyway. Grimes, the Army Ranger who was instrumental in killing the “24” version of Osama bin Laden and who now can’t do anything at all, not even hold down a job at a cell phone store, which I figure he must have recently been fired from since in every scene he calls Eric and then throws away the phone, only later to produce a new one.

Let’s also do the math on Edgar’s cousin. Edgar died in Season 5, which aired in 2006, which to us normal humans was almost 11 years ago. But the timeline of “24” does not pick up year by year like most shows; it’s more like a reverse “Breaking Bad.” Sometimes it’ll say “18 months later,” or “3 years later” in between seasons, so it’s possible that this could easily be a full 10 years after Edgar died, or maybe even longer. Regardless of what he taught her, I think it’s pretty safe to say that 10 years in terms of computer technology might as well be a millennium, especially if the person’s final lesson comes before like their 8th birthday.

Other thoughts:

  • Eric’s wife really is a whiny ass bitch. She’s got nothing but complaints, and I for one hope she finds herself within the crosshairs before this season ends. It seems odd that Eric would determine her greatest level of protection would be in the hands of what remained of the Barksdale crew. Sure maybe you can trust Isaac; he is your brother after all, but maybe you should have had a little one-on-one talk with him alone before you handed over your wife in front of 90 criminal witnesses. A better move would be to take her to a Motel 6 and pay a few days upfront in cash. Let’s also not forget that his wife killed a guy and never mentioned it. I’m beginning to think she’s the real adrenaline junkie in this relationship.
  • I honestly don’t even know what’s going on with the Chechen girl in high school. I cannot follow that storyline, it’s so insane and quite frankly boring. How can the story of a hot foreign chick in high school with multiple sexual partners, including one of her teachers, be boring?! I don’t know, but they did it.
  • In the span of 15 minutes, Aisha puts a plan into action that will get Nicole and Isaac killed, as well as cementing herself as the new leader of the vicious street gang. I think the show should be about her. By the way, here’s her brilliant plan in a nutshell: “I’LL ASK THESE TWO GUYS TO DO IT AND THEY’LL IMMEDIATELY SAY YES.” Which of course they do.

All in all the show is moving way too fast and in the wrong direction. We have no time to learn about these characters or give a shit about them other than what we’re told through lazy expository dialogue. The original Jack Bauer was great because he starts off not knowing what’s going to happen, and three hours later he’s killed six guys, cut off a person’s thumb, taken a waitress hostage, and made himself public enemy number one. While this was happening his wife was home eating cereal with no fucking clue what was happening until 10 hours later. I don’t like it.

Kevin: Me neither. Let’s cheer ourselves up with a reminder of the good old days before Jack’s board game with the family was interrupted in the first episode and his life was never the same again:

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