Jack is back. Fox Broadcasting chief Kevin Reilly has announced that 24 will be returning in 2014. According to Brian Stelter of The New York Times, the show's ninth season will consist of 12 episodes — meaning producers plan to deviate from its longstanding format, where each hour-long episode represents an hour in realtime.
When it debuted in 2001, that unique approach established 24 as one of the first network programs tailored for binge viewing sessions. The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum shared that sentiment when we spoke to her last November, crediting 24 for breaking the network tradition of putting out procedural episodes, where "any individual hour could be distributed in any order." Scenes of torture inflicted upon terrorism suspects were also a new sight for television audiences in a post 9/11 climate.
Fox plans to switch things up for Jack Bauer's ninth day-long adventure. "What they'll be able to do is go in chronological order of the day, but skip hours," Reilly said. That means each hour viewers see will still be "real time," but 24's writers will be able to tell a tighter, more engrossing narrative. Apparently that idea came from showrunner Howard Gordon, who told Reilly that each 24-episode season of the show ultimately contained about 12 episodes of compelling storyline.
Reilly: @howardmgordon said most 24 yrs had 12 eps worth of story and lots of "connective tissue." This approach will be only highlights.— Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall) May 13, 2013
Rumors pointing to a 24 reboot reached a fever pitch in recent days, and star Kiefer Sutherland has already been attached to the project. Reilly says the show is likely to return to Fox at some point in May 2014.
Update: 24's official Facebook page has been updated with new details on the show's return. Rather than a proper ninth season, the upcoming reboot is being billed as "a thrilling new tent-pole event series." It's officially called 24: Live Another Day and Fox confirms that it will begin airing next summer.