Written by Diane Tillis
24 is a political-thriller television series that spans eight seasons. The show focuses on Jack Bauer, a prominent and controversial agent within the Counter Terrorist Unit in Los Angeles. Each 24-episode season covers 24 hours in the life of Jack Bauer using the real-time method of narration. The episodes are marked by the hour with onscreen digital clocks. For instance, episode one of Season 8 relates to 4:00 P.M. through 5:00 P.M. of that day. The show also uses the split-screen technique. The screen will display multiple images that coordinate with the different story lines that occur throughout the season. This technique is used when the opening credits are rolling, before-and-after cuts for commercial breaks, or before the concluding scene. At the conclusion of its eighth and final season, 24 became the longest-running espionage-themed television drama ever.
The setting of the final season of 24 moves from Los Angeles to New York City. After all, how many times can you blow up one city? Kiefer Sutherland returns to the play the role of Jack Bauer. This season, Jack and the story arc of 24 will come full circle. From the world of Season 1 that could not comprehend peace among nations, Season 8 will see the possibility of peace within reach. Jack begins to contemplate a quiet life before circumstances force him back to CTU. A tragedy will push him off the edge, but a friend will be there to save him in the end.
As in tradition 24 fashion, nothing is as it seems in the beginning. This season is full of plot twists and turns, even a couple of back-flips. The following is just a very rough explanation of the final season. Anyone who is familiar with the set-up of 24 knows that people and circumstances can change drastically over a 24-hour period.
Season 8 of 24 begins at 4:00 P.M., eighteen months after the conclusion of Season 7. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has been living in New York City for the past several months, recovering from the effects of a bioterrorism weapon. While his daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) is in town with her husband and their young daughter, Kim asks Jack to move back to Los Angeles. Jack decides to live the quiet life with his family, and begins to pack his bags. However, things are never that easy for Jack Bauer. A former informant comes banging on his door for help. He believes he is a target for assassination by Kamistani operatives due to his knowledge about a possible assassination attempt on President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor) of the Islamic Republic of Kamistan.
Meanwhile at the New York base of the Counter Terrorist Unit, many new faces and some old ones show up for work. Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) transferred to the new base, but her opinions go unheard by coworkers. At first, Chloe’s boss Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff) appears to be an emotional wreck. When an old boyfriend calls her for a favor, the favor turns into blackmail. Dana finds herself in a difficult situation before her fiancée Agent Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) steps in to help her. As her storyline progresses, Dana is not what she appears to be.
President Hassan is visiting the United Nations in New York to finalize a monumental peace treaty with American President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) and Russian President Yuri Suvarov (Nick Jameson). The main objective of the peace treaty is for Kamistan to cease any production of nuclear weapons or the purchase of similar weapons from other countries. Kamistani terrorists are resentful of Americas. They are also disappointed with President Hassan’s willingness to end the production of nuclear weapons. A small group of terrorists has infiltrated President Hassan’s diplomatic party and put together an assassination plan with the help of the Russian mob. When the assassination attempt fails, the mob sells the terrorists nuclear rods to create a bomb. This bomb will devastate New York City unless President Hassan surrenders himself to the terrorists.
This season also sees the return of two notable characters, Rene Walker (Annie Wersching) and Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin). Rene returns due to her knowledge from working undercover with the Russian mob. Rene helps Jack infiltrate the mob and discover the location of the nuclear rods. Rene’s role within the mission is vital to stopping the nuclear attack. Charles Logan, the character we all love to hate, returns to mix up a few situations for President Taylor when she is at her weakest. My favorite new character this season was Dalia Hassan (Necar Zadegan), the wife of I.R.K. President Omar Hassan. Her character is intelligent, graceful, and courageous. Dalia goes from being a resentful wife, to a powerful partner, and finally to a courageous political leader. I could not wait to see her character perform under terrifying situations and come out stronger than before.
The video aspect ratio is 1.78:1. Compared to earlier seasons, the production of 24 has come a long way in relation to video quality. The colors are strong against the blue color filter used in most of the outdoor shots. The contrast is a good balance between the darker and lighter tones.
The Blu-ray presents a full 1080p high-definition image through an AVC/MPEG-4 codec. There are 6 episodes on each disc. I really prefer no more than 5. The bit rate hovers somewhere near 20 mbps. There isn’t any trouble with compression here. Detail is high, particularly in the facial close-ups.
The setting of Season 8 changed from Los Angeles to New York. For those who do not know, a season of 24 takes roughly eight months to shoot. Naturally during this time, New York will experience different seasons, which would compromise the effect that the entire show takes place in a 24-hour time period. It is also very expensive to shoot films or television series in New York City. Thus, the production team decided to shoot the show in cheaper locations and to recreate the New York backdrop with computers. The production team used thousands of photographs of the New York scenery to recreate these backdrops against green screens. This increase of computer-generated effects does present some compression artifacts like jagged lines on straight edges or slightly fuzzy images. They eventually go unnoticed, unless you are looking for them! Other than the minor compression artifacts, the overall video quality of the DVDs is good.
The audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1 with an English dialog track and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French. The audio quality of the final season of 24 is better than many television series I watch on DVD. The background sound effects like the sounds of helicopters flying or car tires screeching are distinctive against the dialog track. The dialog is perfectly clear. The soundtrack maintains a presence even amongst explosions and Jack Bauer shouting commands.
The Blu-ray sports a DTS-HD Master Audio track. The same specs appear to apply. I’d say you get a little more punch from your sub here. There is a lot of explosive action in this series and the subs will really roar to life at times.
There are special features on the six discs of the final season. There are 21 “Scene Makers” or short behind-the-scenes featurettes. They can vary from being cast interviews, reveals into stunt scenes, or discussions on the special effects. These “Scene Makers” were available to viewers online as the show was airing on television. There are several Deleted Scenes that can be watched as a collection or incorporated within the episode it would have appeared in. “The Ultimate CTU” discusses the adjustments made for moving the series from Los Angeles to New York City, and the production design of the final season. “Virtually New York” spoils the show a little, revealing that while the show is set in New York, it is mostly shot somewhere else! It reveals how computers with photographs of the city created the set of New York.
While there is a substantial amount of special features for this DVD collection of the final season, it is weak compared to other the other seasons’ DVD collections. There are no commentaries by actors or members of the production crew. The “Scene Makers” are not new to fans that went online while the show was airing and saw those months ago. Many of the special featurettes that were created for the season were saved for 24: The Complete Collection. For fans who bought the seasons individually and look forward to all the extras, this is a grave disappointment.
The Blu-ray offers an additional deleted scene that likely was intended as a series extension. The features are all in high definition here with the same level of detail and sharpness.
I have known about 24 since the first season, but I was never much interested in the premise of the show. After watching the final series, I finally see why the show has such a faithful following by fans. I was completely enthralled by the season from beginning to end. It was compelling, engaging, but most of all it kept you interested. Since watching the last season, I began to watch the show from the beginning and am now on Season 4. I just cannot stop watching it! Give 24 a chance, even if you do not like espionage shows. With rich storytelling and interesting characters, 24 will keep you guessing until the final scene.
The Blu-ray information was written by Gino Sassani