The future of the Corey Hawkins-led Fox drama remained on the bubble after its season finale episode in April, which drew a matching season low of 3.3 million total viewers and a 0.8 rating. And now its fate is official as Fox has decided not to renew “24: Legacy” for a second season, the network announced this evening. However, it’s not done with the franchise and will work with producers to re-develop a “new version” of “24” with a refreshed cast, which means Hawkins will not be returning. Fox didn’t give a date for when fans can expect the retooled version, nor any casting hints.
Leading up to the series’ premiere after this year’s Super Bowl game, a key concern that fans of the original “24” series (which starred Kiefer Sutherland and ran for 9 seasons) had about its spin-off, “24: Legacy” (which features a new face in the lead, played by Corey Hawkins), was whether they would still appreciate the action-drama without their beloved Jack Bauer (Sutherland) running the show. And as we pointed out on this blog about mid-way through the season, the answer was decidedly in the negative; the overhaul of the real-time thriller without its original lead Jack Bauer wasn’t quite the success that Fox hoped it would be.
Using viewership numbers for “24: Legacy” since it premiered, it’s very clear that audiences continued to lose interest in it from week to week, which was unfortunate for all those involved in its production, both in front of and behind the camera.
“I’m a little sad because I feel like it’s a really good show,” Fox TV CEO Dana Walden said on March 7, 2017. “It’s not terrible [but] we had really high hopes for the show… I’m feeling mixed. I feel very proud of the show and extremely grateful to the creators and the great actors who have done a really wonderful job… I would love nothing more than to bring it back because I thought it was great… But we’re just going to have to see how our pilots come in, how it continues to perform and weigh all of the information we have in May.”
None of that sounded very encouraging at the time if you were a fan of the series, or you were employed because of it.
A month later, series creator Manny Coto was asked about the likelihood of a renewal. His response: “I’m sure Fox would have wanted the ratings to be higher, but the fan reactions have been greatly gratifying. My guess is it’s a decision that will come some time in May [when all the bubble shows are evaluated], in concert with Fox’s decisions on their overall programming for next season. But I’m hopeful! I think the show is really good and I think Fox loves the show, so we’ll see.”
Coto said he already had ideas for a second season, stating that the team knows exactly where they want to take the show should it be renewed: “I could say pretty confidently that it would probably be Eric as a CTU agent, and my guess is it would be in a place that’s not necessarily the U.S. As a young agent, he’s stuck somewhere. He’s not getting the choicest assignments. It might be fun [to focus on] someone in some backwater CTU station who ends up stumbling on a larger plot that could bring down the country. My feeling for next season would be something where the country is at stake in a large way. It involves Jimmy Smits and the country and his presidency. It would hopefully go big, and be more along the lines of ‘Live Another Day,’ and be larger than life and still explore relationships, like Eric and his wife. Are they still together? Are they not?”
Since Hawkins will be replaced, “24” fanboys and girls who longed to have Jack Bauer back probably shouldn’t expect him to return to the series since Kiefer Sutherland is starring in another series (ABC’s “Designated Survivor”), which has been a strong performer, so I doubt he’ll jump ship.
As I said early in the season of “24: Legacy,” a question that first should’ve been answered definitively is whether there was enough audience interest in a “24” reboot/spin-off to begin with, or whether the 9-season original series had run its course with Sutherland, and shouldn’t have been revisited at all. The last season with Sutherland, which was a limited series titled “24: Live Another Day” (2014) wasn’t as big a hit as the previous seasons of “24” (although reasons can be debated), drawing 5 to 6 million live viewers compared to the 9 to 12 million the season before it. Much has obviously changed in the last 5 years in terms of how we watch television, so some of the drop-off can be explained by that evolution. But a strong argument could be made that no matter who the “24: Legacy” series lead was (everything else – the writing, supporting cast, etc – exactly the same), audience interest may not have really been there as it was for Jack Bauer.
Fox also thought a reboot of “The X-Files” was a good idea, but critics and fans thought otherwise; and despite a strong start, it continued and went away rather unenthusiastically, ending with less than half the viewership it started with, and declining critical reviews over the course of the season. And the stars of the original series returned, so it wasn’t a case of a rebooted “X-Files” with new leads, as is the case with “24: Legacy.” Although Fox is apparently thinking about another season of “The X-Files.”
So now all fans can do is wait to find out what the retooled “24” with a refreshed cast will look like.