(CNN)Reviving "24" with a new, younger hero was a good idea on paper. But it's on paper -- in terms of the writing -- where the idea breaks down, yielding ridiculous and clichéd plot twists even by the show's frenetic real-time standards.
'24: Legacy' shoots blanks in Fox revival
Timing could be another issue for this Fox revival, focusing on terrorism in the broadest possible way at a moment when questions about torture and have been thrust back into the public square. The disclaimer would be that this latest incarnation approaches those areas so broadly as to feel muted in its real-world implications.
Corey Hawkins, who takes over the lead, is perfectly fine, but even his Eric Carter -- a former Army ranger thrust into an insane terrorism plot -- can't save "24: Legacy" creatively speaking. Commercially could be another matter, with Fox to launch the show behind the year's biggest annual showcase, the Super Bowl.
Carter is a former Army ranger, living in anonymity since his team carried out a highly classified mission to eliminate a terrorist abroad. When his former brothers begin getting killed, he realizes their cover has been blown, triggering a breakneck race to find out what happened.
As usual, the show operates on multiple fronts, although in this case, almost all strain credibility even more than usual. Carter's brother (Ashley Thomas), for example, is a drug dealer who used to be involved with Eric's wife (Anna Diop). And Aaron's former boss and ally Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto, coming off a stint on "Homeland") is married to a presidential candidate played by Jimmy Smits, who, it should be noted, ran for that office on "The West Wing."
Diving headlong into the story yields some silly flourishes, including the notion that sleeper cells operating in the United States -- after meticulously plotting in secret -- would start suddenly running around construction sites firing automatic weapons before embarking on whatever their master plan might be.
Nor do matters improve much in the second and third hours, when Carter needs cash fast and comes up with seemingly the hardest possible way of acquiring it.
Introduced in 2001, "24" helped shape a new brand of serialized storytelling in its early days, before the ordeals of its anything-to-get-the-job-done hero, Jack Bauer, mounted to biblical levels. The program's ticking-bomb scenarios and post-September 11 embrace of torture as a counter-terrorism tool are still being debated.
At a time with no shortage of reboots and revivals, a fresh start with a new agent theoretically makes sense. The finished product, however, suggests that the writers have run out of ammo -- delivering a makeover that does nothing to enhance that legacy.
After its debut Fox will move "24" to Mondays, pairing it with another new drama, "APB." That show is about an Elon Musk-type billionaire, Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk), who applies his technological genius to taking over a cash-strapped Chicago police district and outfitting its officers with space-age hardware.
It's pretty familiar stuff -- Reeves is motivated by a crime that strikes close to home -- with Ernie Hudson as the captain and Natalie Martinez as the patrolwoman Reeves labors to win over.
Thanks almost single-handedly to Kirk's performance it's modestly watchable, and there's a touch of "RoboCop" in the premise of a private entity taking control of an ailing police force. Yet even seen through that sci-fi lens, "APB" looks less far-fetched than "24."
"24: Legacy" premieres February 5 after the Super Bowl. "APB" premieres February 6 at 9 p.m.