Jack's Back: The Bowie Effect

Fancy making a quick buck? Disappear for ages and then suddenly return

14th May 2013

Nearly three years ago I wrote my first Film and Television themed blog on what I thought to be the finale of 24. Now it's been announced that Kiefer Sutherland is set to reprise the role of badass terrorist hunter Jack Bauer in a new series, albeit in a shorter 12-episode format, in May of 2014.

American TV dramas are arguably at an all-time high in popularity: Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, True Blood, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire... the list goes on, all programming popular both in the US and here across the Atlantic. What's notable in this list is that it's domianted by shows from American networks AMC and HBO - and Fox is notably lacking. So Fox has pulled the ace that it's been inconspicuously hiding in its underwear, and brought back their most successful and popular drama series that's already supposed to be over.

I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I feel like, after 8 seasons of torrid abuse that nobody should have to endure, Jack - already forced to flee the country for what feels like the jathillionth time - should be able to retire in a relatively quiet third-world country to live a quieter life. Maybe Wales. But as I surmised three years ago, the writers left the ending open so that they could bring it back if ratings descended.

It's definitely worked: the announcement has already received a huge amount of publicity. It's something I'm going to coin as the Bowie Effect.

There are four steps to achieving the Bowie Effect:

  1. Become famous and critically successful (this is the difficult bit)
  2. Take an extended break from your career to make the difficult choice as to whether you prefer St Lucia or Bora Bora as a place for your private villa
  3. After a certain amount of years (relative to your profession) release the news of your comeback very suddenly, when there are no rumours of you doing so
  4. Sit back in your private villa either St Lucia or Bora Bora and bask as your new project markets itself

24 is the third example of this happening this year. The first is obviously David Bowie's new release, which demonstrates it most effectively, as it was the most sudden appearance. The second is Daft Punk's upcoming Random Access Memories, which is possibly the most hyped-up album in the history of time, ever. However, Fox may have taken a punt too early: a year is a long time for somebody to stay excited. They're going to need to do a bit more marketing before final release.

Anyway, regardless of whether or not I feel it should be coming back I'm going to watch it. I would have watched the movie it had come out, so why wouldn't I watch a new series? The biggest problem with the original run of 24 was that because it was so absurdly OTT from the very beginning, things that should have been dramatic became less so, and the storyline from series 6 onwards became a little silly - maybe a few years of quiet time will do Jack some good and ground him a little. That, and hopefully Elisha Cuthbert.