HeldenFiles: ‘24’ returns, other series wrap up season

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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24: Live Another Day cast members (from left) Michael Wincott, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Giles Matthey, Benjamin Bratt, Yvonne Strahovski, Gbenge Akinnagbe, Kiefer Sutherland, William Devane, Kim Raver and Tate Donovan. The show is set to premiere Monday, May 5 with a special season premiere, two-hour episode (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Greg Williams/FOX)

Fans of the TV series 24 know that Jack Bauer has been unkillable. And so is his show.

Four years ago, Fox canceled the conspiracy-laden, guns-bombs-and-politics series after eight seasons and a two-part movie between the sixth and seventh seasons. The framework — 24 episodes per season, each approximating an hour in real time over yet another bad Bauer day — seemed to have run out of ways to keep it fresh for nation-saving Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland. As the series ended, Bauer was not only a fugitive, but also one who had been handed endless piles of misery, starting with the murder of his wife in the first season. How could one man handle any more emotional torment?

We’ll see beginning at 8 p.m. Monday when 24: Live Another Day has a two-hour premiere on Fox. Bauer has come out of hiding to rescue an old friend through a scheme as elaborate as it is ridiculous. The scheme brings him to London, where the U.S. president (William Devane, one of several performers from the old series) is in the middle of crucial negotiations that may be stymied by either a personal crisis or yet another vast and complicated plot by evil forces.

The first two hours of the series — which is being presented in 12 parts instead of the old 24 — have plenty of drive, several twists, and a blend of classic characters with new ones. After all, you can’t have Bauer without having his frequent collaborator Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), who hasn’t been having a great life either. The whole thing is immediately crazy, but that’s 24.

Today is, of course, the 44th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State, and CNN at 7 tonight presents CNN Special Report: Witnessed: The Killings at Kent State. According to the network, it “reconstructs the events leading up to the protest on that fateful day through the stories of those who were there and lived through the shooting.” The witnesses include many familiar names from Kent State history: Alan Canfora, Dean Kahler, Jerry Lewis, Carole Barbato, Laura Davis and Ronald Snyder. Journalist Carl Bernstein is also featured.

Based on a preview of a work-in-progress version, it’s a piece mainly for people too young to remember the event; older ones will recognize moments, the upheaval tied to the Vietnam War, sometimes graphic images and old footage, and soundtrack selections including Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Ohio and Find the Cost of Freedom and Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers.

The Simpsons offers a different kind of animation in its 550th episode at 8 tonight on Fox. It shows off LEGO versions of the characters and the structures, along with some pretty good laughs. The folks behind the show have called it “a labor of love, but also a labor of work representing more than two years of work by our writers and animators.”

Those of you who (like me) spent part of your childhood pondering the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World may be intrigued by Secrets of the Dead: The Lost Gardens of Babylon, at 9 p.m. Tuesday on PBS. The program notes that traces have been found of the other wonders

Let’s review: the Great Pyramid, Colossus of Rhodes, temple of Artemis, statue of Zeus at Olympia, lighthouse of Alexandria and mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

but the gardens have eluded rediscovery. So, the program investigates, what if the gardens weren’t really in Babylon?

As the current season winds down, season finales this week include Resurrection (9 tonight), 2 Broke Girls (8 p.m. Monday), The Tomorrow People (9 p.m. Monday), New Girl (9 p.m. Tuesday), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (10 p.m. Wednesday), Two and a Half Men (9:01 p.m. Thursday), Hawaii Five-O (9 p.m. Friday) and Blue Bloods (10 p.m. Friday).

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.

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