Last summer, the producers of 24 concocted a plan for 24’s seventh season that involved Jack Bauer traveling to Africa. The brass over at FOX nixed this plan, and until now it was believed that the reason for this was money, pure and simple. Filming scenes in Africa would be too expensive. Apparently, this wasn’t the real, or only, reason the executives scrapped this original plan. When the plan was indeed put by the wayside, the production of 24 was delayed for weeks while the writers were charged with coming up with something entirely different. Coming off the poor reception for 24’s sixth season, the writers and producers wanted to try something drastic and different. They eventually settled upon a seventh season set in Washington DC, and filmed about eight episodes before the writers’ strike hit and put the series into indefinite hiatus. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, executive producer Howard Gordon revealed the real reason Jack Bauer was originally going to go to Africa: to build houses for orphans.
Jack was going to do some penance for all the bad things he’d done in his life. The entire season was not going to be set in Africa, only the very beginning, and this is where the FOX executives had an issue. The 24 real-time formula would have been temporarily tossed aside, as Jack would have been called back to the mainland while helping out the African orphans, necessitating a trans-Atlantic flight. FOX didn’t think this would keep in line with what had made 24 the hit series it had become.
When I first heard the idea to film parts of season 7 in Africa, I was all for it. After all, 24 is successful because of Jack Bauer and I didn’t need any politics; I just needed some Bauer. I wrongfully assumed that the entire season would be set on the dark continent, with Jack taking down some evil African warlord, or saving a peaceful village from exploitation and massacre. This would have necessitated most or all of the season being shot in Africa. I guess this wasn’t in the cards. Now that I know the original idea was for Jack to do some penance with the orphans, I think that would have been a cool way to begin the season. I would have been open to 24 cheating their real-time formula for an episode or two. Or, they could have down the Africa stuff in flashbacks.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
Source: Wall Street Journal, TVGuide
(Image Courtesy of FOX)