I know I’ve hijacked the Tooning In… column before to sprout on about my sometimes obsessive following of the real-time thriller series 24, but this time it actually has a place right here on this site!

With the recent news that the next two seasons of the hit Keifer Sutherland show will head off in new directions, following the widely lackluster reaction from critics and fans alike on the just-finished sixth “day” in his character’s life, we have something pretty cool in the meantime: Jack Bauer as you’ve truly never seen him before!

The animated prequel 24: Day Zero takes place just before the very first season blasted onto our screens back in 2001. Though much of it won’t mean a thing to anyone who hasn’t caught an episode on TV, fans finally get the chance to see Jack back in action on the very case he was working on as the original series began. Day Zero, a Flash-animated online saga, comes from the producers of 24 and features Sutherland doing voice over duties as our hero, and particularly fun are the recreations of “the following takes place between…” setups that precede each episode of the regular show.


This new online series will comprise of nine vignettes, with Bauer teaming with fellow agents Nina Meyers (uh-oh…watch out!), Tony “soul patch” Almeida and George Mason (yay!) to try and smoke out a treacherous mole working within CTU (yawn?). For the first time ever, viewers will learn how trouble in his home life with wife Teri and teenage daughter Kim gave rise to his romantic entanglement with Nina…and fans all know how that turned out!

Produced by Flash animation content studio Icebox, the only drawback to all this is the length, with webisodes only running just over a minute in new content. The style is very limited animation, drawn with a rough comic-book edge that seems to suit the material adequately (the images look great when they’re not trying to move too much). The whole venture is the result of Fox’s promotional partnership with Degree Men, whose own advertisements have mirrored the look and feel of 24‘s groundbreaking production ethos. Part of the effort has also seen the online debut of another (live-action) series which follows the adventures of The Rookie: CTU agent Jason Blaine (accessible by toying with the PDA Navigator on the bottom right of the Day Zero page, which also hosts some interactive challenges).

Running a little longer in length, The Rookie: CTU provides two stories for those needing their real-time fix, created with the full values of the regular 24 episodes (it’s directed by series cinematographer Rodney Charters and scored by Sean Callery) and featuring some nifty behind the scenes footage for each chapter. Likewise the animated Day Zero offers up some neat clock stopping moments of its own, and I look forward to how it unfolds over the next few weeks…

Don’t forget that the clock is also ticking on our Wait Till Your Father Gets Home giveaway – you have until Tuesday midnight before a nuclear device…oops, before the deadline is up to get your entries in to us. The Complete First Season of the classic Hanna-Barbera show is released in stores tomorrow.

– Ben.