Season 6 is now history for Kiefer Sutherland and FOX's "24." But the team behind Jack Bauer and CTU are already scheming on plot lines and ideas for Season 7. The pressure is on to deliver. Jack's latest crusade got a cool reception from some fans this spring who complained about a familiar theme of nukes in the hands of terrorists.
One of the key men behind the show is Writer and Executive Producer Michael Loceff, who lives in Kitsap County's Kingston area. We asked him what's up for next season. Loceff told us, "what we are going for, is really taking this to the personal level," unlike this season's focus on nuclear threats, the President getting hurt and possible war. Loceff says "you just can't go much bigger than that, unless you put a spacesuit on Jack Bauer and shoot him into orbit. Which you know, we may get there. but we're not going to be there yet."
Next season expect smaller story lines for the characters, including Jack. Loceff adds "and he how tries to resolve a particularly thorny conflict in the final episode."
One reason Loceff can't spill the beans about next season is, most of it hasn't even been written. Instead, most of the show is written, filmed and edited during the season. Loceff says "that's apparently one of the surprising facts about the show."
He believes that fly by the seat of your pants system gives the show intensity. Loceff says "the pace that we like to run it at, doesn't work if we stick to the outline."
There are constant re-writes. Loceff says "the problem with that is, when you do all the squeezing and throwing out, and squeezing and throwing out, by the time you are done, you have squeezed 6 episodes of work into one episode, so you no longer have stories for 5 episodes." Or an episode may end-up several minutes short. That's when the race begins to think of additional story lines and finish writing, whether it's at Loceff's Kingston home or the writing room, which is in the same building as CTU's studio in Chatsworth, California. Loceff says "a lot of paper-balls get tossed around. There's people doing spit-balls at each other."
But Loceff's got a writing system down pat with his cousin Joel Surnow, a co-creater of "24". Surnow sits at his computer and types while Loceff circles the room spewing out lines. Sometimes they use ideas they've saved. Loceff says "let's see uh, the President's wife is having an affair. Can we use that? Uh, no that didn't work. We pull out one after another ideas, things, that we want Jack to say or do. Jack in group therapy? Not yet."
Loceff tells us Season 7 will focus on smaller and more intense story lines. but the specifics are still a mystery, even for Loceff and the writers.