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Television

Jack Bauer’s back to save the day in ‘24’

  • This image released by Fox shows Kiefer Sutherland in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Daniel Smith)

    This image released by Fox shows Kiefer Sutherland in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Daniel Smith)

  • This image released by Fox shows Kiefer Sutherland in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Kiefer Sutherland)

    This image released by Fox shows Kiefer Sutherland in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Kiefer Sutherland)

  • This image released by Fox shows Mary Lynn Rajskub in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Christopher Raphael)

    This image released by Fox shows Mary Lynn Rajskub in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Christopher Raphael)

  • This image released by Fox shows Benjamin Bratt, left, and Gbenga Akinnagbe in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Christopher Raphael)

    This image released by Fox shows Benjamin Bratt, left, and Gbenga Akinnagbe in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Christopher Raphael)

  • This image released by Fox shows Kiefer Sutherland in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Daniel Smith)

    This image released by Fox shows Kiefer Sutherland in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Daniel Smith)

  • This image released by Fox shows Kiefer Sutherland in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Daniel Smith)
  • This image released by Fox shows Kiefer Sutherland in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Kiefer Sutherland)
  • This image released by Fox shows Mary Lynn Rajskub in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Christopher Raphael)
  • This image released by Fox shows Benjamin Bratt, left, and Gbenga Akinnagbe in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Christopher Raphael)
  • This image released by Fox shows Kiefer Sutherland in a scene from "24: Live Another Day," premiering Monday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox. (AP Photo/Fox, Daniel Smith)

Jack’s back.

A counterterrorism agent forced to go rogue, Jack Bauer had been lying low since

2010. He’s been off the grid and off-screen since the final cycle of 24.

For eight seasons of this Fox thriller, the indomitable Bauer repeatedly saved the country from innumerable disasters (or tried to) at grave cost to himself.

Viewers – like his fictional pursuers on 24 – might reasonably have given up on ever seeing Jack again.

But on 24: Live Another Day, he is nabbed by the CIA shortly after 11 a.m., London time, as this real-time, sequential drama erupts with the first of a dozen episodes that will carry the saga to a breathless conclusion later in the same hectic day.

The miniseries premieres Monday at 8 p.m. with two episodes, spanning the period from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Returning as the intrepid, long-suffering Bauer is Kiefer Sutherland, whose far more upbeat post-24 drama, Touch, was axed a year ago after just two seasons.

Also back, remarkably, is Kim Raver, who, as Bauer’s former heartthrob Audrey, was last seen in the conclusion of Season 6 in a coma from which she was not expected to emerge. But there is no happy reunion in store for Jack. It’s quite the opposite, even though he – ever the trickster – deliberately contrives to be captured by authorities.

What’s Jack’s game? He’s gotten wind that James Heller, previously U.S. defense secretary but now the nation’s chief executive (played by the returning William Devane), is targeted for assassination while in London.

Still the driven do-gooder, Jack is hellbent on foiling this plan. But it requires him to resurface and tangle with CIA officials as well as President Heller’s chief of staff (Tate Donovan), who is now married to – wait for it – Audrey, after having seen her through her miraculous recovery.

It’s worth recalling that 24 premiered in fall 2001. It was hatched as scripted drama’s answer to the red-hot new reality genre spawned by Survivor. Then, just weeks before 24 was set to be launched, everything changed. What had been created as slick TV escapism seemed, quite to the contrary, too close for comfort.

Fortunately, 24 overcame the specter of real-life tragedy while managing to meet the challenge of its snugly packaged format. On the strength of its ambition and inventiveness, it prevailed as a wildly dramatized view of American response to terrorism.

But however violent and grisly (and it was both), 24 saw its shock value waning by its final season. Recall that during the first season’s “day,” a major mission for Bauer was to prevent the assassination of a presidential candidate.

In 24: Live Another Day, the series’ conventions have been dusted off and revived for its well-versed fans: the nonstop action, the jittery camera, the pounding percussive music score and the clanking on-screen clock.

There may be genuinely shocking moments in the episodes to come. But if there aren’t, that’s okay. In our twin roles as citizens and viewers, we have lost a hunk of our innocence since fall 2001. Rather than rousing us, 24 these days has the opposite effect: It lulls us with Bauer’s beleaguered, uncomplaining efforts to lend a helping hand.

Bottom line, there’s comfort for us viewers with Jack Bauer back on the scene. It’s pretty much guaranteed: On “Live Another Day” he’ll have another bad day. But we’ll all have a blast watching.

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EDITOR’S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier . Past stories available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore

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Online:

http://www.fox.com

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