Anyone who knows me understands that calling between 9pm and 10pm on Monday nights will result in a phone without answer. The truth is I’m a bit of a Jack Bauer nut and after jumping into the series during its third season (and subsequently back peddling to watch the first two), I’ve become quite the 24 aficionado. I have a couple t-shirts, one of the figures produced by McFarlane Toys, the soundtracks, obligatory CTU ringtones on my phone (as well as a few others) and, of course, each of the seasons on DVD (and now this seventh on Blu-ray). I really just love the show and while it’s definitely become a bit of a shadow of its former self (the first few seasons really felt grounded in reality, while the more recent ones have taken on more than a few ridiculous scenarios), there’s no denying that it still manages to set you on the edge of your seat like no other.
The countdown starts over as Jack Bauer (Emmy® Award winner Kiefer Sutherland) is thrust back into action in a new city, with a new role and a new enemy to bring down. Set in Washington, D.C., Jack is under investigation for his “high crimes” during his time at CTU as a mysterious new threat is attempting to take the government down. As the race against the clock escalates, Jack is forced to take matters into his own hands, working with old friends and new allies to once again protect the country. Featuring stunning performances by returning from dead cast member Carlos Bernard (“Tony Almeida”), Mary Lynn Rajskub (“Chloe O’Brian”), James Morrison (“Bill Buchanan”), Carlo Rota (“Morris O’Brian”) and Elisha Cuthbert (“Kim Bauer”), new faces emerge including comedian-actress Janeane Garofalo (The Truth About Cats & Dogs, Ratatouille) and two-time Tony Award-winner Cherry Jones, as the first female President of the United States.
This season picks up where the Redemption “movie” left off, with Bauer brought to D.C. for hearings about his torture. The discussions on torture have not only become a much-talked about debate in the headlines of the real world, but they also became a focal point of this seventh season. New FBI agents that worked with Bauer knew only of his recklessness (was there no memo sent out each time Jack saved the world or something? I mean, c’mon…he got results) and as such it took awhile for our new cast to warm up to him, where they eventually learned that everything Jack does is right because…well, he’s Jack Bauer.
But new blood wasn’t the only thing that made the seventh season feel fresh. No, the season starts (and ends) with Tony Almeida, back from the dead, supposedly wreaking havoc on the country for his own desires. It’s a solid plot to start off with and when Tony is eventually redeemed, it feels satisfactory—of course Tony couldn’t be bad…he was one of the few good guys before! We then get a new villain, courtesy of Redemption, who take us through two of the seasons most unpredictable hours (First impression: They broke into…the White House? Yeah, right. Second impression: Holy #%^* they broke into the white house! This is crazy!). It really reminded me of 24 of old where you genuinely felt like you had no idea what to expect. Terrific is only one word to describe the White House raid; it was just such a brilliant execution.
Of course the season did have its weak points, but for the most part it redeemed itself from the mediocre sixth season. This was far from the series best, but I’d rank it in fourth place in terms of the most enjoyable of the seasons so far. What weak areas it did have cropped up mainly from the new staff, as it felt ridiculous to have to sit through Jack having to convince every one of his actions. On top of that Chloe, who, I know is a fan favorite, really added a little more humor than expected. I know her character’s there to lighten the mood, but I can’t help but feel that her character kind of invited the change in mood for this series; season one and two were almost entirely devoid of any laughter and that’s partially what made them feel so damn serious and hardcore the entire time. But, that’s another rant entirely (and, besides, she didn’t really detract from the series stellar fifth season).
But, 24 is just one of those shows that even when it’s on a low point, it’s still some of the best drama on television. Exciting in every respect, there’s still plenty of enjoyable moments (Jack’s flying punch to Tony in the first few hours was brilliant) and a few unpredictable scenarios as well. While the flip-flopping in the seasons overall villain felt old at first, the ultimate resolution to it all was satisfactory. The season also made you think Jack would die there for a string of episodes (considering the rumors that they want to kill Bauer off, it didn’t seem that implausible; but they worked their way out of that one too). It also re-introduced Jack’s daughter as a lot less emo and a lot more forgiving—hell, this is the most love I’ve seen out of Kim since the first season.
Overall this season of 24 was good fun and fans will definitely enjoy it a great deal. It could have been better, but honestly the show has given us so much over the years that I’m fine with it just coasting through its remaining years; I doubt it’ll ever regain the glory it exuded over the fifth season, but that’s to be expected (they killed some major cast members that season…hard to top that). Overall this season still comes Recommended for viewers, both old and new.
Behold! The first season of 24 to arrive on the Blu-ray format (with the other seasons eventually following suit, if rumors hold true) and they’ve scrunched it all into a double-wide Blu-ray case. Although I was surprised that they fit the entire sixth season into a single width Amaray case (where were these space saving cases when the first few seasons hit on DVD—those seven layer thick digi-pak tray cases are huuuuge), this Blu-ray case is a bit more pleasing in this case, although the height doesn’t exactly mesh with the past seasons (my shelf’s order has been thrown off once again…curse you varying case heights!). The six discs are housed inside the case with a double sided insert…no booklet of any sort is included. Menu’s are nicely done and are simple and easy to navigate.
The AVC encoded 1080p transfer is the best the show has ever looked—and this is saying something, considering I watched this entire season in the HD broadcast. Of course the cable company compressed the signal, but still—it was better than what I’d get from a standard definition DVD. One thing that really becomes evident with this transfer is the incredible amount of grain and overblown contrasts of the show translate to a mildly uneven transfer, but one that is ultimately pleasing to the 24 aficionado. It certainly looks fantastic, with solid detail throughout the season, but there are a few pitfalls in the video front, likely due to the fact they crammed all 24 episodes and extras onto six discs (I hate to see what the DVD looks like, as the DVD version is now on six discs as well, instead of its usual seven). But that’s really only a minor qualm and the downsides to the transfer are minimal as, for the most part, this transfer will be a treat for the eyes.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, however, doesn’t feature any faults and will, in fact, blow the crap out of your room if you let it. Every bit of this show looks like a Hollywood production and the audio matches it without fault; there’s gunfire that punches you in the chest and explosions that rock the walls. It’s an absolutely brilliant audio mix for a show that never fails to impress with the diversity of sound in the room, whether it’s helicopters passing overhead or the sound of a motorcade on the road.
Extras? Yeah there are plenty of those too, although the majority of them are commentaries. Included are:
o Episode 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM Commentary by Executive Producer/Director Jon Cassar and Carlos Bernard
o Episode 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Commentary by Executive Producer Manny Coto, Co-Executive Producer Brannon Braga and Carlos Bernard
o The Fimucité Festival Presents: The Music of 24
o Episode 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Commentary by Executive Producer/Director Jon Cassar and Annie Wersching
“24” Season Seven
o Episode 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Commentary by Executive Producer David Fury and Hakeem Kae-Kazim
o Episode 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Commentary by Executive Producer Manny Coto, Co-Executive Producer Brannon Braga and Annie Wersching
o Episode 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM Commentary by Co-Executive Producer/Director Brad Turner and Tony Todd
o Episode 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM Commentary by Co-Executive Producer/Director Brad Turner, Composer Sean Callery and James Morrison
o Episode 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM Commentary by Executive Producer Juan Carlos Coto, Annie Wersching and Bob Gunton
o Episode 1:00 AM – 2:00 AM Commentary by Executive Producer Howard Gordon, Carlos Bernard and Jeffery Nording
o Hour 19: The Ambush
o Episode 5:00 AM – 6:00 AM Commentary by Executive Producer Evan Katz, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Glenn Morshower
o Episode 6:00 AM – 7:00 AM Commentary by Executive Producer David Fury, Co-Executive Producer Alex Gansa and Glenn Morshower
o Episode 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM Commentary by Executive Producers Howard Gordon and John Cassar
o 14 Deleted Scenes with Optional commentary by Co-Executive Producer Stephen Kronish and Producer Paul Gadd:
o 24-7: The Untold Story
The twelve audio commentaries (which, as you can see, Sutherland doesn’t participate in once again…strange) are where fans will get the main meat of the seasons behind-the-scenes goodies, although since the participants vary, there is some overlap when discussion the season as a whole. An added bonus is all of the extras are in HD, so even the deleted scenes are presented in high-definition. The featurettes are pretty self explanatory, but the “Untold Story” is particularly interesting as it recounts of the sixth seasons troubles as well as the writer’s strike that forced the show off the air for a full year.
Overall 24’s seventh season on Blu-ray comes Highly Recommended. Not only does it look and sound great, but the Blu-ray release costs the same as the DVD seasons did when they were first released, making the jump to the format all the more reasonable.
24: Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.