Hit or Sh**: FOX’s 24: LEGACY

In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.

24: legacy

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I have a little bit of experience with 24. Five seasons of the show dominated my early adolescence, as I zealously followed Kiefer Sutherland’s defining role as the gruff, tough-as-nails Jack Bauer, who taught terrorists the hard way why you don’t fuck with America. I watched the TV movie, played the shitty (but surprisingly intricate!) video game spinoff, and wore a child’s size medium CTU shirt to school from time to time. I even represented my middle school in the citywide science fair with an experiment that sought to determine whether watching an adrenaline-soaked episode of 24 raised the heart rate of the viewer.

While my project was probably selected by merit of being the only non-Rube Goldberg device from our school, and despite the fact that the experiment (which consisted of me and my partner strapping a pump pump band on each of our bored parents and watching them react to the season six finale, where Jack flings a bunch of Chinese spies off of an oil rig) could not prove that the show actually had any influence on BPM, I was, for a time, convinced that I had found nirvana in 24. But even my young, impressionable mind could only take so much, and by the time I sat down for round six with Kiefer and Co., it finally dawned on me how same-y each season was. There was always a traitor within the organization (but never the suspicious ethnic we are led to suspect), there was always a plot to nuke LA that gets foiled at the last second (except that one time they blew up Valencia), and Jack always gets his torture on.

24 legacy lets

Let’s face it, this is probably did wonders for commuters

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Even before I realized how shockingly xenophobic and morally dubious the show was, I recognized that 24 simply isn’t a sustainable viewing experience. While each individual season is excellent, when viewed as an overarching series, 24 suffers from a lack of innovation (there’s only so many tricks left to use after a single 24-hour season). And so, as I sat down to watch the premiere of the reboot, 24: LEGACY, I felt the worst kind of nostalgia wash over me: the warm, acrid sensation of liking something even less as an adult than as kid, rather than with newfound appreciation. Beyond being bad TV, 24: LEGACY’s existence is downright dangerous in 2017 America.

Following the familiar format hammered out in the last season, we begin our day with a two-part premiere taking place between 12:00 PM and. 2:00 PM in Washington, DC. Corey Hawkins is Eric Carter, an ex-Army Ranger who is living under witness protection provided by CTU after leading a raid on a terrorist compound in the Middle East. When said terrorists come knocking on Eric’s door, with guns in hand and chips on their shoulders, he’s forced to go on the run while also trying to foil a greater plot that he inadvertently stumbles into.

Credit must be given where it’s due, and the return of 24’s rigid focus on “real time,” along with the copious use of split frames to track the myriad of parallel plots within a single hour, cultivates a frantic sense of tension without ever becoming overwhelming. “Real time” is also an incredible way to absorb an audience; while many sub-chapters of a plot line are resolved in the span of an hour, the greater narrative itself moves only as far as it needs to keep the viewer engaged. It’s just enough that it can easily string you through a literal day’s worth of television, proving that the previous series’s success was no mistake.

24: legacy golde

GOLDENEYE 64 had pretty avant-garde multiplayer

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Yet where LEGACY shares the strengths of its predecessor, so does it the weaknesses. It wasn’t long before I began spotting familiar retreads in the pilot: there is a traitor in CTU leaking Eric’s location to the terrorists, Eric’s immediate family is involved in illegal organizations whose agendas are counter to his own (this time it’s drug dealers instead of right-wing militias), and there is once more a dull high school subplot that is loosely related to everything else going on. By all indications, LEGACY feels like a remake of 24’s seventh season, as Eric is similarly operating without the official support of CTU.

Unfortunately, a dearth of originality isn’t the only thing wrong with LEGACY. The writing has taken a noticeable dip in quality, with the new cast blurting out expository introductions and statements of intent to each other. Speaking of the new cast, while Hawkins is shaping up to be a serviceable lead, much of the supporting cast deliver an eclectic mix of wooden and exaggerated performances. And among other unconvincing elements of the pilot, bad TV CGI gifts us with an anticlimactic construction site altercation where you get one guess as to which (clearly fake) object suspended by crane will be used to crush a goon.

24 legacy twen

-“24? More like Plenty Bore!!”

-*Sustained Gunfire*

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While plenty of critical arguments against LEGACY exist, one must not also forget the cultural aspect. The opening shot of the pilot is of a Purple Heart veteran, badly beaten, tied to a chair in his own living room, while Arab gunmen ransack the house. The veteran and his family are executed, and the terrorists move on to another home. Elsewhere, a high school student discovers his Muslim classmate is plotting an attack, but is compromised when the teacher he reports her to is revealed to be in cahoots with the teenage bomber. LEGACY is a paranoid view into a world where Donald Trump isn’t president, and without a travel ban to keep out the bad hombres, extremists are free to travel across the nation unimpeded and kill our heroes. It’s no surprise this kind of content is coming from FOX, but it’s tasteless nonetheless given the current political climate, similar to the original 24’s premiere weeks after 9/11. The difference is that LEGACY indirectly acknowledges, and actively supports, a presidential platform whose constitutionality is a hotly debated issue, finally crossing the line into bona fide propaganda. This is the last show anybody should be watching right now, regardless of political affiliation.

No matter how I look at it, I can’t find a single reason to recommend 24: LEGACY. Closer to “24 Season Nine” than a new show, LEGACY is uninspired, lackluster, and damaging to boot. If anything, LEGACY serves as a reminder that everyone should probably watch a season of 24 at least sometime in their lives, but it also reinforces the idea that this is a series that has far outlived its concept. Fans won’t find anything here to keep them interested, and newcomers will be happy to know that a better version of this same premise already exists.

Verdict: Sh**

24: LEGACY airs on Mondays on FOX

Ed Dutcher

Ed Dutcher is the Video Games Editor here at Crossfader. The last time Ed had a meal that wasn't microwaved, George W. Bush was president. He only learned to read so that he could play Pokemon.

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