Speaking with TVGuide.com at the NYC premiere of 24: Redemption, the TV movie airing this Sunday at 8 pm/ET, executive producer Howard Gordon explained how he had to sell Fox on the idea of this two-hour, real-time tale.
"I told the network, 'I have an idea, and it's going to take a little patience,'" he said of the plot in which Jack, while quietly helping out an orphanage in Africa, has to ward off a military coup (led by Candyman Tony Todd).
Allying with an old friend (Trainspotting's Robert Carlyle), Jack ultimately goes guns a-blazing, yes, but only after a refreshingly normal-paced build-up to the action. "It's really much more like a Western than it is a thriller," says Gordon, "and it was about relocating Jack emotionally, so we took our time. Last [season] was very existential, [ending with Jack] staring off the edge of a cliff — 'Who is he, what is he thinking?' This year we needed to reset him."
Looking ahead to 24's Season 7 — which will feature several characters from the "prequel" movie, including big baddie Jon Voight and "President" Cherry Jones —Gordon says that as much as he didn't care for the Redemption subtitle (originally it was dubbed 24: Exile), he came to like it and uses "redemption, or reconciliation" to describe the theme for Jack's next day-long ordeal (kicking off Jan. 11 and 12).
"It's about Jack Bauer really looking at himself and his life for the first time with some sort of composure, and asking some very hard questions," Gordon says. "It's a very different world now than it was when it first started, and Jack's a very different character now than he was when he began."
Get more from Gordon in the video below.
Watch all of TVGuide.com's 24: Redemption videos, featuring Kiefer Sutherland ("Jack Bauer"), Cherry Jones ("President Taylor"), Jon Voight ("Jonas Hodges"), Robert Carlyle ("Carl Benson"), Gil Bellows ("Frank Trammel"), Tony Todd ("Colonel Juma"), Hakeem Kae-Kazim ("Colonel Dubaku"), director Jon Cassar and series executive producer Howard Gordon.