24 officially taking time off

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If there's one person who knows that time is of the essence, it's superagent Jack Bauer of Fox's 24. However, don't expect to see Mr. Bauer to do anything hastily other than pound a few daiquiris over the next year.

The show's seventh season was set to begin last January and run without a break, but in November, strike complications forced Fox to delay the season premiere to an unspecified time. Now, Fox has called 2008 a loss for the show and will run season seven in January 2009.

The crew has already shot eight episodes of this season, which sees the action move to Washington, DC, instead of Los Angeles. If Fox had opted to continue production of the show this year, there would have been a lengthy break before the newly produced episodes would air. Because 24 is heavily serialized, Fox wanted to ensure the seventh season was aired uninterrupted.

ABC took a very different tactic with its serialized hit Lost, opting to air the episodes it has now and finish the season with an additional five episodes. However, Lost's original season order was only 16, whereas 24's was appropriately 24.

Star Kiefer Sutherland must be kicking himself now. The actor opted to serve a portion of his jail sentence for a DUI charge over the holidays in order to avoid slowing down the production of the show.

24's seventh season will be the first without cocreator Joel Surnow, who announced earlier this week he was leaving his duties to pursue other projects.

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