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TV Review: '24: Legacy' Is A Lot Like What We've Seen Before


Now, after the Super Bowl, Fox will debut a new edition of the hit action drama "24." The first season of that show aired shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and the reboot continues tackling terrorism. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says this new season called "24: Legacy" seems like the original in a lot more ways than that.


ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: That's a sound sure to catch the ear of any "24" fan. It's the digital numbers that kick off each fast-paced episode.


COREY HAWKINS: (As Eric Carter) The following takes place between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Events occur in real time.

DEGGANS: That's right - "24" is back with its central gimmick intact. Each hour long episode portrays an hour in the lives of its characters. And that may be the biggest problem with this new "24." It's so much like the old "24," you realize how much of the show is a well-worn machine.

The new hero in this case is Eric Carter, played by Corey Hawkins. Instead of Kiefer Sutherland's Agent Jack Bauer, "24: Legacy" features Carter, an ex-Army Ranger whose squad helped kill a major terrorist then assumed new identities and went into hiding. But minutes into the first episode, Carter and his squad have got a serious problem.


HAWKINS: (As Eric Carter) We're blown, the whole squad.

MIRANDA OTTO: (As Rebecca Ingram) What?

HAWKINS: (As Eric Carter) Bin-Khalid's people found us. They have our new names, and three of them just broke into my house. Listen, I took them out, but - they killed the rest of the squad. Grimes and I are the only ones left.

OTTO: (As Rebecca Ingram) My God.

DEGGANS: Yep. Just like the old "24," our new hero, Eric Carter, is working mostly alone to stop the bad guys. And just like Jack Bauer endured in the first "24," Carter is surrounded by people, including his wife and his brother, who doubt him. One of the biggest changes for "24: Legacy" is that actor Corey Hawkins is African-American. He played Dr. Dre in the hit biopic "Straight Outta Compton." And to make sure the point is driven home, there's this moment, when Carter tells a friend over the phone how he plans to sneak into a police station.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) You're going to let them arrest you?

HAWKINS: (As Eric Carter) Look, I'm a black man standing on the corner of Third and Decatur. Trust me, it won't be that hard.

DEGGANS: And like the old "24," the new "24" raises uncomfortable questions about stereotyping. Eric Carter "24's" first black lead character has a major drug dealer for a brother. OK - I also got to wonder why a guy in hiding with a new identity lives just a few minutes' drive away from his brother in Washington, D.C.

Anyway, as America ties itself in knots over questions of terrorism and extreme vetting, the first villains we see in this new "24" are the same old stereotypically bloodthirsty Middle Eastern extremists we've seen in many a Hollywood production. In fact, spy action movies like the "Mission: Impossible" and "Jason Bourne" franchises have given us the same thrills for years, so there's little left for this new "24" to offer. The real-time rushing around in "24: Legacy" just feels like a distraction from ludicrous plot twists like Carter attacking that police station single-handedly.

Devoted "24" fans may enjoy seeing the familiarity of the old series with a fresh talent like Hawkins in the lead. But for the rest of us, the first three episodes of "24: Legacy" will feel more like a missed opportunity, a chance for reinvention, which instead delivered a lot that we've seen before. I'm Eric Deggans.

(SOUNDBITE OF SEAN CALLERY'S "JACK IN THE LIMO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.