Do you ever get the impression U.S network television wish they could turn the clock back a decade or two? Speaking at the Television Critic's Association winter press tour, Fox Television chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman announced the network was in a rebuilding mode, and have been discussing the return of some old hits...
24 was already revived last summer as 24: Live Another Day; a miniseries set in London that, by virtue of its failure to kill off Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), could easily return for another 'event series' (as they like to call it).
Interestingly, Newman had this to say about the potential for more 24:
"We would love nothing more than to do another 24. That's a constant focus for us."However, it may not be a simple matter of bringing Kiefer Sutherland back for another miniseries in 2016. Apparently, 24 producers Howard Gordon, Evan Katz and Manny Coto have pitched an idea that would see 24 return without its long-suffering hero—essentially keeping the real-time format, but focusing on a different character. As much as I enjoy watching Sutherland in his signature role, yelling "Dammit!" after kneecapping someone, that feels like a wise move. They painted themselves into a corner with Jack Bauer years ago, so he stopped being interesting as a rounded human.
Elaborating on the idea, Walden continued:
"[The new 24 pitch] was in the very origin stages and it could have gone either way. There was a point at which Jack Bauer could come in and fit very organically into their story or they were prepared to do something that would be the one instalment without him."In other words, Jack could theoretically become a guest star in a newcomer's storyline, or simply sit the whole season out. I reckon they should go for a 'torch passing' angle, and let another character cut from the same cloth as Jack Bauer take over the whole series, but that's just me. They just need to get the casting spot-on, if they go down that route. I'd like to see a tough female protagonist, and it would make sense to build a spin-off around 24:LAD's Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski), no?
And it seems Fox aren't against bringing back a few other hits from yesteryear. Newman mentioned they'd love to bring Prison Break back as an event series, too. No idea how that would work, considering the original series had already become farcical in its attempts to keep a one-season idea going. I mean, the concept could easily be redone, but if you want Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell back as the Scofield brothers… yeah, that's going to test credibility. I mean, did someone forget the fate of [redacted] in the series? A spin-off using the same concept would make more sense to me.
And finally, the Fox bigwigs also mentioned they've spoken to Chris Carter about reviving The X Files. Carter's Amazon pilot The After was unceremoniously canned before production began this month, so chances are he's suddenly available. But does he need the money? And is bringing The X Files back a wise move for a man who's unsuccessfully tried to move on from his '90s hit, but just can't seem to catch a break?
Fortunately, Walden mentioned The X Files would only return if David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were both involved, so at least there's some common sense at work. Shame the Fox execs weren't so clearheaded when they forced the show to continue after Duchovny quit.
My guess about the future of The X Files? Well, it's known that Carter, Duchovny and Anderson were hoping for a conclusive feature-film to be released in 2012, because that's a significant date in the show's mythology (the year when alien colonisation of the Earth was scheduled to begin). Unfortunately, 2008's unexpected sequel The X Files: I Want to Believe was released to widespread indifference, which helped put the kibosh on 2012 tie-in that would undoubtedly required a much larger budget.
But how about making one of those 'event series' things that are suddenly all the rage? I could easily imagine a twelve-part X Files storyline airing in the summer, with Carter, Duchovny and Anderson all returning for a conclusive swansong. The X Files never managed to end well on television—as the once-compelling mythology got increasingly convoluted and boring, then only the diehard fans watched past the Duchovny era. It would be fantastic to revisit the show, get some finite answers about the colonisation situation, then put the whole thing to bed. But they really have to hurry if this is seriously on the cards, because the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) is 77-years-old now and doesn't look too well.
What are your thoughts on this news from Fox? Excited to hear that some popular shows have the potential to return as 'event series', similar to Heroes coming back to NBC this summer? Or is this actually a very sad state of affairs, seeing big networks essentially admit their best creative periods are behind them?