Fox’s hit thrill-ride 24 tub thumped for its upcoming eighth season Friday at Comic-Con. Joining star and executive producer Kiefer Sutherland on the panel were his newest co-stars, Anil Kapoor, Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Katee Sackhoff, veteran fan-fave Mary Lynn Rajskub, along with the show’s producing staff and composer Sean Callery.
Just like last year, when a change of direction and scenery gave the show a much-needed kick in the government-issued khakis, change is in order for the upcoming season. As is the norm at 24 panels, few details were revealed under threat of torture, but we did get our first glimpse of Day 8.
Jack, who obviously survived his health scare, is retired, and – GASP – happy! But we know it won’t last long, as a new crisis is revealed.
The first clip of hour 1 of Day 8, finds Jack living in New York City. A face from his past knocks on the door, a mercenary named Victor.
“How did you find me?”
Victor, who’s wounded, tells Jack about a planned assassination of the President of Iran, who’s in town to forge a peace agreement with President Taylor.
Someone doesn’t want that peace treaty – which is to be done at the UN – to happen.
Jack puts Victor’s gun to his throat to try and get him to reveal everything he knows but Victor says he’s not saying anything until he can cut a deal with CTU.
“You’re lucky I’m retired,” jack says.
We see the shiny, rebuilt headquarters of CTU. Hey, there’s an underground tunnel. We meet the new members of the crew, such as Cole (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), head of Field Ops. He’s engaged to CTU’s data analysis chief Dana Walsh (Katie Sackhoff), whose condescending manner is grating on Chloe O’Brien, who after being a stay-at-home Mom for awhile, is having trouble keeping up.
The clip ends with Chloe getting a phone call from Jack, saying he needs to speak with her boss, Hastings. As Chloe runs up to Hasting’s office, the clip fades to black, not revealing who CTU’s new boss is.
In case anyone in the SDCC crowd was worried that the talky scene previewed here was a sign of a Caprica-like shift from the show’s action roots, Sutherland offered reassurance.
“We still blow lots of shit up," he promised. “We’re just saving it.”
For many 24 diehards, last season marked a major rebound from the disappointing Day 6, easily the least popular in the show’s history.
In referencing that, Sutherland thanked the fans for their support and also last year’s co-star Annie Wersching, saying her portrayal of tough-as-Jack FBI agent Renee Walker was a big reason for Day 7’s success. He also said that plans for a 24 movie won’t start moving forward until the series is done.
Producer Manny Coto says Day 8, which starts an unspecified number of months after Day 7, begins with one of those rare quiet moments in Jack’s life. As he put it, everyone knows they won’t last, but they help make the show’s trademark nail-biting moments so suspenseful.
Showrunner Howard Gordon warned the panel not to get too spoilers, and the new cast members seemed to take him seriously.
Sackhoff, who said 24 gives her a chance to show the sweet side she never could display as Starbuck. In fact, after reading the scripts, she pleaded with the producers.
“I need a gun. I’m starting to feel really naked,” she said.
But knowing that being a 24 cast member is the most dangerous job in TV, Sackhoff kept the lid on data leaks.
“I could get fired. I have no job security. I could get my head chopped off and put in a duffle bag for evidence,” she said, a reference to one of the most notorious moments in Jack Bauer’s career.
Kapoor also didn’t spill any details on his character. But given that the clip shown did talk about a planned hit on the visiting Iranian president, and that Gordon said Kapoor’s ability to convincingly portray a royal presence or a president was why they hired him, it's obvious which role he’s playing.
Prinze Jr. said he’s always been a big fan of the show. Then, proving that he learned how to draw cheap heat during his time as a WWE writer, he name-dropped his wife Sarah Michelle Gellar’s name (“That’s right. I forgot she’s big here.”)
Prinze Jr. said he’s modeling his character, an ex-Marine, after a cousin who is serving overseas.
Leave it to Mary Lynn Rajskub to keep the mood light. When asked if Day 8 has a theme like Day 7 (Redemption), Rajskub said it was “like, totally party.”
Sutherland and Gordon both said peace was actually the overriding theme. That after years of terror threats, smuggled warheads and bio-weapon threats, the possibility of peace exists in the world of 24.
But remember. Lots of shit will get blown up before Day 8 is done. They promised.
Season 8 of 24 gets going with two 2-hour events, on Jan 17th and 18th.