Synopsis[edit | edit source]
The feature begins with Howard Gordon admitting that Season 6 was not 24's strongest creative year. Manny Coto suggests that the criticism was blown out of proportion, and not only did they get poor ratings but also political heat. Evan Katz explains that they realized they needed to make radical changes to the franchise. Gordon says that the finale of Season 6 suggested new beginnings.
False starts: Katz explains about the different beginnings at the start of a season when the whole idea is being planned out. The first draft they had was Jack in Africa for a few hours before travelling back to America, and Gordon says it was the spine of what would later become Redemption. Katz goes on to say that there was a parallel story of Renee in Washington, D.C.. The writers explain that the story would, after three or four episodes, jump twelve hours into the future where Jack was back in America and working with Renee. David Fury suggested it would be an interesting way to "break the mould of the show". He says that some people thought that that wasn't 24, and Gordon elaborates that starting Jack and Renee's stories separately then joining them up did not work.
The second idea they had for the season was for Jack to be "bad". Katz says that he was under deep cover and the audience would not even know that he was undercover until it was revealed. Two scripts for that were written but it was not felt to be right by the writers, and even Kiefer Sutherland pointed out that the audience would not believe that Jack was bad, so they would just be waiting for that revelation to come. Gordon says that script was scrapped and the studio and actors were getting concerned. He says that a few days later Manny Coto and Evan Katz came to his house and suggested having Jack in court at the start of the day, answering for some of the things that had been suggested in the press. He then explains the development of an idea that the writers had from the end of Season 6; bringing back Tony Almeida. They said it was more interesting to bring him back as a bad guy, so that's what they decided with and in fact morphed the role of a "bad" Jack that they had had before into that of Tony.
Brannon Braga, a new writer on the show for Season 7, explains the stress in the writers room when he first joined. To make matters worse, the 2007-8 Writers Guild of America strike delayed production of the show. Evan Katz explains that eight episodes had been written, and they were at the point where as soon as a script was written, it was being filmed. He says that it was one of the first announcements of the strike that 24 would be held off as it was clear that they would never meet the deadline. They soon realised it had been delayed for a whole year; not a good situation considering that Season 6 had been a bad year. They said they soon realised the strike could be a good thing because it could give them a break and time to rethink.
In March 2008 when they returned to production, the writers were able to change things they did not like about the season and rethink things for the next episodes. Katz says that FOX wanted a taster for fans to put out before Season 7 because of the wait, and so Redemption came about. They all agree that it helped to improve viewers knowledge of the first few episodes.
Braga explains that the plan was for Tony to be evil all along, but the writers hit a creative wall after the episode where that was revealed. They explain that Jon Cassar and Kiefer Sutherland strongly felt that episodes 19 and 20 weren't working, and the writers realized this and so decided to delay production.
Day 7 and Beyond: The writers suggest that 24 is one of the most challenging shows to work on, but Gordon says that it was one of the strongest seasons yet, despite the false starts and other issues. They say that for Day 8 they know the show needs to change again, and they will make sure to do that. None of the time that they delayed was wasted, and Braga comments that he hopes the same will be true for Season 8.