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'24: Legacy' should appeal to fans of the original series

The legacies of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick aren’t the only ones on display on Super Bowl Sunday.

About 10 p.m. Sunday after the Fox post-game show ends, fans of the adrenaline-rush, action series “24” will also see whether Jack Bauer will be able to pass on his legacy to Eric Carter in the sequel: “24: Legacy.”

The original series arrived on Fox in November of 2001 only weeks after 9/11.

The clock is ticking in the new version more than 15 years later as Americans debate President Trump’s executive order banning refugees from seven countries where the religion is predominately Muslim.

Whether the timing is ideal to premiere another series dealing with terrorists from Middle Eastern countries can be debated in other forums.

For now, the debate is whether “24: Legacy” is good entertainment.

In the first three hours previewed, the new version has the same kind of tension, implausible moments and ridiculously complicated personal situations as the original series in which Kiefer Sutherland played counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer of CTU. In other words, it should appeal to fans of the original who are willing to suspend disbelief as easily as Patriots fans who believe Brady didn't ask footballs to be deflated a few seasons ago.

Sutherland remains an executive producer on the series, which has the same creative team behind it. But Sutherland’s Bauer has been replaced in the series by Corey Hawkins of “Straight Outta Compton.”

Hawkins plays Eric Carter, one of six former Army Rangers who had been given a new name and a new life after being involved in the murder of a powerful Middle Eastern terrorist.

Carter isn’t yet a CTU agent, but he has to behave like one after he learns that Middle East terrorists have killed four of his fellow Rangers and he and another damaged Ranger, Ben Grimes, are the lone survivors being sought by the terrorists.

The terrorists are after a box left behind by their leader, whose contents are originally unknown but don’t stay that way for long.

One of the thrill-ride highlights of the pilot is a moment at a construction site that may remind viewers of a famous scene in the film “Indiana Jones.”

The opening hour, which is followed by another hour episode on Monday, throws a lot of balls and questions up in the air.

Will Eric and his wife Nicole ever be able to have a normal life? Will Eric’s drug-dealing brother forgive him for stealing Nicole and help save her life? Will a senator played by Jimmy Smits who is married to the former head of the CTU have a successful run for president? Has a high school chemistry teacher turned into Walter White of “Breaking Bad” fame?

And, as always, who do you trust?

I found many elements of the first three episodes ridiculous and ridiculously entertaining. But I didn’t miss Bauer at all. Still, I must say that a key law enforcement plot line in hour number two jumped the shark early.

While I understand re-boots are the rage these days in television – the upcoming “Prison Break” soon joins the Fox party – “Legacy” could have stood on its own without having “24” attached for name recognition to bring in a crowd.

In a recent interview in Pasadena, Calif., the show’s producers and creators conceded they played with the idea of making “Legacy” a movie for about a year.

“The origin was never really a ‘24’ season,” said co-creator Manny Coto. “The idea is … a group of Army Rangers who had killed a major terrorist and are slowly being taken out, and that leads into a larger conspiracy. That idea was suggested from the Bin Laden events, and it was kind of extrapolated into a larger story. We originally planned that for a general thriller idea. It wasn’t even '24.'

"But the more we talked about it, the more it seemed like this is a great character and this is a great story that would fit into the real-time format. So it wasn’t like somebody said, ‘Hey, Let’s come up with the next '24.’ It was this idea came about, and we realized this might be a good iteration for this franchise.”

Of course, terrorism has changed since 9/11.

“It was the big fear was large scale attacks and giant infrastructure, and it’s become unfortunately something more that can arise in your own neighborhood, the lone wolf attack,” said Coto. “That’s something that the show is dramatizing this year and extrapolating on in the worst-case scenario that ‘24’ usually does.”

Co-creator Evan Katz said finding the right actor to have the earnestness, likability and charisma to play a character involved in outlandish situations was key.

“He’s really made this character come alive,” said Katz of Hawkins. “The character has this youthful sort of idealism that we haven’t seen in that character in this show. And we’re finding him in this instance at the beginning of his journey through, ultimately, CTU, and really what the season’s going to bring is turn him into an agent.”

Hawkins admitted that he felt some pressure in replacing Bauer. Just maybe not as much pressure as Brady will feel Sunday.

“I’d be crazy to say there wasn’t any pressure to do it, because if there wasn’t, then I wouldn’t be doing it,” said Hawkins. “If the challenge wasn’t there, then there was no reason for me to say yes to the role.”

He said the pressure is in stepping into Carter’s shoes “and make him as fully and as complex and as flawed and as human as I could, and that’s the fun.”

One critic noted that one the more noticeable differences between Carter and Bauer is that Carter is African-American and asked if that would be addressed or reflected in the story line.

“I think it’s unique in that it’s unique almost in the sense that it shouldn’t be anything out of the normal,” said Hawkins. “I just feel like he looks how he looks and we have to honor that. We have to honor where he comes from. It’s not just about his skin color, but it’s also about his culture. It’s about where he grew up.”

“But growing up, we never got to see a hero that didn’t have superpowers who looked like us. You know? That you could kind of look to and say, ‘Man, I could be that guy one day. I could be a patriot. I could be a soldier. I could work in the government and be a hero.’” And I think that just really appealed to me, that family unit and what that is. It doesn’t have to be wrapped up in a neat bow.”

Hawkins added that his character isn’t comfortable doing some things as easily as Bauer.

“He is sort of an average human being with extraordinary sort of ability in terms of being a soldier,” explained Hawkins. “But the rules of engagement are very different on the home front. And there’s an adjustment period that we’re going to have to sort of watch him stumble through messily and watch him get through that.”

Gordon explained another difference between Carter and Bauer.

“Eric Carter is a young soldier who has returned from duty,” said Gordon. “He’s not an intelligence officer. He’s not a CTU agent. So Jack, by that time, was a person who sort of you know, the die had been cast in terms of what he does, why he does what he does. I mean, he obviously had a lot to lose and a long way to go. This is really an origin story. He’s really feeling his way through this journey, and we’re seeing the birth of an agent, really.”

email: apergament@buffnews.com

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