the review site with a difference since 1999
Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...
Fox Home Entertainment presents
"Leaders are required to have patience beyond human limits."
DVD ReviewWell folks, I did it again this year. I succumbed to watching television almost every Tuesday night for eight months. I am typically opposed to planning my life around network broadcast scheduling, but I made an exception for the irresistibly engrossing first season of 24. After later witnessing how much better 24: Season One played on DVD, I had all but decided that I would wait to watch Season Two until it was released on our beloved format. However, anyone who has seen 24 knows how highly addictive it is; there was just no way I could hold out another year to discover what Day Two would hold in store for federal agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland).
For those unfamiliar with the series, it is a 24-episode season, with each episode encompassing one hour of a full 24-hour day. All of the events occur in real time. While my weekly Tuesday night viewing of Season Two was enjoyable, it was not until I watched this DVD that I was again reminded of how naturally the real-time element flows from one episode to the next. Episodes that initially seemed weak in comparison to others play much stronger when realized as part of the entire story. Watching the series in a short period of time is certainly preferred, as it has been crafted as one long 24-hour story rather than an episode-specific television show.
The second season, or "Day Two", begins at 8:00am, approximately one year after the events of the first season. We are immediately thrust into the heart of the story, which concerns an international terrorist group's plot to detonate a nuclear bomb somewhere in the city of Los Angeles within the next 24 hours. President Palmer (David Haysbert) and his staff work frantically not only to discover and thwart the group behind the conspiracy, but also to avoid the mass hysteria that might ensue if knowledge of the bomb is leaked to the public before its actuality has been confirmed.
The pivotal character of the series is Jack Bauer, once a federal agent for the government's Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU). Bauer is one of the most compelling heroes that entertainment has ever offered. Stalwart and intelligent but reckless and volatile, Bauer is a refreshing departure from the typical cookie-cutter male protagonists. At the beginning of this day, the severely burnt-out ex-agent attempts to reunite with his estranged daughter, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert), who is working as a nanny for a wealthy Los Angeles family. Jack has been inactive from CTU since the tragic events of season one, but he is soon called back into action because of his undercover connections with a man who may be directly responsible for the terrorist threat. Also introduced are new characters Marie Warner (Laura Harris), her fiancée Reza (Phillip Rhys), her sister Kate (Sarah Wynter), and father Bob Warner (John Terry). Their story arc, involving the planning of Marie's wedding, initially appears to be little more than a red herring, but rest assured that the writers have tightened the screws this season, and crafted a deliciously elaborate web of intrigue that all ties together eventually.
Overall, I would have to say that the second season of 24 is even better than the fantastic first outing. The issue of terrorism and the threat of global war are presented assertively, yet tastefully. Though I feel that Season One possessed better individual episodes, the story of Season Two proves to be a more carefully constructed puzzle. The plot is denser this time around, involving many interweaving story lines that take place in multiple locations. The complexity of the plot certainly puts the pressure on the creative team to keep the real-time element intact. In general, they have succeeded admirably, but with occasional compromises. For instance, many of the innumerable characters are conveniently located within a short distance of one another, eliminating the need for lengthy travel times. Additionally, during the moments when the series would cut to a commercial break in its prime time run, the clock is accurately compensated for. However, upon my DVD viewing, I occasionally noticed that certain events appear to remain stagnant during this three or four minute lapse of time. Nevertheless, rarely does the real-time structure falter, and any minor glitches prove inconsequential.
While Season One eventually resorted to bombarding the audience with one surprise after another, this one avoids relying on an excess of jaw-dropping plot twists. Sure, there are plenty of cases of mistaken identity, double-crosses, and gasp-inducing cliffhangers, but nothing like the absurd character twist that proved to be the nadir of the freshman series. Season Two is proof of just how utterly engrossing an intelligently constructed story can be without resorting to gimmicks.
About the only major problem here is the mishandling of the Kim Bauer character. I found little of value in her extraneous story line. Furthermore, while Kim was originally intelligent and headstrong, this go around portrays her as little more than a ditzy blond, destined to make one irrational mistake after another.
Trivial errors aside, 24 remains the best television series I have ever seen. Not only do I dislike arranging my schedule around TV programming, but I have twice now experienced how far superior the narrative of 24 unfolds on DVD. Nevertheless, I have a strong feeling that when the next season's broadcast premieres next month, I will be glued to my television screen. Yes, 24 is that addictive.
The following are brief episode summaries of "Day Two." I have tried to include very little plot information, but be forewarned that several of them contain spoiler information. I strongly encourage anyone who has not yet seen Season Two stop here, and likewise avoid the Extras review.
After receiving word of a bomb threat from President Palmer, Jack goes back to work for CTU and starts his assignment off with a bang—literally. Kim Bauer takes care of Megan Matheson (Sky McCole Nartusiak) at her nanny job, while Marie Warner plans her wedding. The latter two story lines seem especially generic in this first episode, but the scenes involving President Palmer are riveting. A great deal of plot information is thrown on the table right away. Pay attention now, or be lost forever.
8:00am-9:00am rates 4 out of a possible 5 clocks:
This one is a very intense episode, where the action is more cerebral than visceral. I enjoyed watching the witty methods of Jack Bauer, as he risks it all to get closer to the possible terrorists. After discovering the high percentage probability of the nuclear bomb detonating, CTU district director George Mason (Xander Berkeley) heads off to Bakersfield to "follow up on a lead." Meanwhile, Kate Warner begins to suspect Reza of terrorist connections, and Kim snatches Megan from her abusive father and goes on the lam. This ludicrous subplot is about the only problem I had with this tense episode. The stakes have been raised, and the excitement is greater.
Half a clock taken off for the silly Kim Bauer story. 4.5 clocks:
The tension mounts here as we begin to discover the duplicity of certain characters. Jack continues to go to extremes to prevent the detonation of the nuclear bomb. George Mason's attempt to follow up on a lead backfires drastically, and he begins to officially have a very bad day. This is not a stellar episode, but the heightened suspense and a knockout ending make for a compelling hour.
The brewing intensity keeps 10:00am-11:00am at 4 clocks:
Palmer continues to display a bold sense of leadership and grace under pressure; it is refreshing to see him enforce his interest in the American people over his political status. Kate has an interesting conversation with her father that could either be taken at face value, or could mean the duplicity of other major characters. The real-time element feels compromised as Jack makes it from the Los Angeles area to Simi Valley in just 15 minutes. However, this potential hole is easily forgotten as Jack confronts the man who CTU believes may be behind the nuclear threat. 11:00am-12:00pm delivers a terrific ending that will have fans of the first season gasping, and newcomers to the series scratching their heads.
We're just getting started. 4 clocks:
The web of intrigue tightens as Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) confronts Reza about his possible dealings with terrorists. This story arc is finally starting to get interesting, but I still find myself waiting for the payoff. Jack makes a record-breaking 10-minute drive from Simi Valley to CTU, where systems operator Paula (Sara Gilbert) finally gets to prove her worth. President Palmer's meeting with the foreign ambassador is a fantastic development that keeps the dramatic intensity high. Kim's story is still a complete dud, and the introduction of her boyfriend, Miguel (Innis Casey), certainly does not help the situation.
The show is stuck in a decent groove, though it hasn't fully blossomed yet. 4 clocks:
This episode marks the venomous return of President Palmer's ex-wife, Sherry Palmer (Penny Johnson Jerald). It is nice to see that he still does not trust her. Jack's interrogation of Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) is just the type of moment that the show needs to bump up the tension a few notches. Kim continues to make stupid decisions as she leads her even less intelligent boyfriend around on a short leash. I found Miguel's "Bruce Lee" moves to be unintentionally hilarious. Otherwise, 1:00pm-2:00pm is a great episode, complete with a cliffhanger that assures it will be nearly impossible to stop watching at this point.
Only half a clock knocked off for the kung-fu moment. 4.5 clocks:
This fantastic episode marks the best of the season so far. The emotions of every character are at an all time high, and we are treated to several tour-de-force performances. Reza and the Warners are at each other's throats, as are Sherry Palmer and the President's aide, Lynne Kresge (Michelle Forbes). George Mason has an emotional encounter with his son, and the tension has peaked between Jack and Nina on their way to Visalia. It's almost too much for one episode! Furthermore, Kim and Miguel are nearly non-existent in this episode, but what little screen time they have provides a terrific cliffhanger.
We've finally reached 5 clocks:
Kiefer Sutherland delivers a standout performance in this episode, which features a poignant moment in which Jack reflects on his wife. Kate Warner is officially dragged into the conspiracy, and Kim's story actually shows signs of becoming somewhat interesting. Season Two has finally locked into a groove with another fantastic episode.
Nonstop suspense and a thrilling finale equals 5 clocks:
Perhaps the most intense episode yet, beginning with Jack and Nina caught together in a life-threatening incident and increasing in suspense from there. Bob Warner's situation goes from bad to worse when Reza decides to cut a deal. 4:00pm-5:00pm marks the introduction of a major character that we have only heard referenced previously. This introduction leads to a harrowing torture scene that had my hair standing on end. The episode comes to a peak in the final moments with an award-worthy performance from Dennis Haysbert. Given the nature of his character, I do not believe that Palmer would have succumbed to Nina's demands quite so easily, but this is merely a quibble in regard to this stellar episode.
What am I quibbling about? 5 clocks!:
Fantastic developments occur in yet another thrilling hour. Emotional sparks fly as Palmer discovers how deep the conspiracy goes. Jack and Kate Warner finally meet, George Mason bares his soul, and Kim and Miguel continue to make brainless decisions. A major character's duplicity is revealed, proving to be a twist that does not add up very well in the context of the past 10 hours. Regardless of this improbability, 5:00pm-6:00pm is a first-rate episode that strongly reminded me of the meticulously crafted nature of this season.
Regardless of character inconsistencies, this rates a hearty 5 clocks:
Everyone is strung out and tired from the day's events, including myself after watching this powerfully exhausting episode. Jack continues to utilize Kate Warner in order to find the bomb; I could feel my heart racing as she enters the mosque to find the Second Wave terrorist, Syed Ali (Francesco Quinn). President Palmer goes to disturbing lengths to extract information behind the bomb threat, as he attempts to prove the potentially nefarious agenda of Roger Stanton (Harris Yulin), the head of the National Security Agency (NSA). Elsewhere, Kim wanders around the woods looking tasty to wild animals, while Tony Almeida and CTU employee Michelle Dessler (Reiko Aylesworth) express their feelings for one another. Though these subplots are quirky and unnecessary, the essence of the story continues to be fully engrossing.
A flawed episode, but still powerful enough to squeak in at 5 clocks:
Jack's extreme efforts finally prove fruitful as he makes a major breakthrough in discovering the location of the bomb. I was on the edge of my seat as he attempts to extract information from his prisoner, his methods of interrogation proving even more severe than Palmer's. The president is faced with the horrible dilemma that innocent people still may have to die in order to save millions, while Kate discovers crucial information about her sister, Marie. I found it somewhat silly that Marie used the same cell phone number for both personal and business calls, but the resulting emotional conversation between the two sisters quickly led me to forget this illogicality. 7:00pm-8:00pm is ripe with fascinating developments and terrific performances.
It seems that the season can do no wrong at this point. 5 clocks:
Palmer's severe methods to extract information on the bomb are finally successful. The resulting confession unleashes an abundance of fascinating information that significantly heightens the conspiracy. Palmer also learns shocking news about his ex-wife, which should not come as a surprise to many. Jack and Kate move to Norton Airfield, the possible location of the bomb. Kim's story provides another lull in the action, as she shacks up with a dimwitted mountain man; this irrelevant time waster undermines what is otherwise a riveting hour.
I spoke too soon. 4.5 clocks:
Kim continues to chew up screen time with Lonnie (Kevin Dillon), but fortunately, this dismal subplot comes to end. At CTU, the animosity between Michelle Dessler and the new systems operator, Carrie Turner (Lourdes Benedicto), proves uninteresting and ultimately distracting. 9:00pm-10:00pm is a good episode, but fails to match the intensity of the past seven hours. It seems as if not very much happens in this episode, but the intention could be for the audience to become as frustrated as the characters that they have not yet found the bomb.
A somewhat sluggish episode, but still worthy of 4 clocks:
10:00pm-11:00pm is the highlight of the day, proving to be heartfelt, poignant, dramatic, intense, and suspenseful all rolled up together. This is the hour we have all been waiting for, and it certainly does not disappoint. Kim's emotional conversation with her dad actually makes her otherwise ineffective presence in this season completely worthwhile. I got the chills when "you know what" happens at 11:00pm. However, the day is far from over, and we discover the fascinating development that high-ranking officials from three Middle-Eastern countries may have funded the nuclear bomb and sold it to Syed Ali.
I would give 10:00pm-11:00pm 6 clocks if I could. 5 Clocks:
The emotional drama of the previous hour carries over to the beginning of this episode, followed by a false sense that we might see a lull in action. Not a chance. Fantastic new developments occur as Jack begins his struggle to discover the authenticity of the Cypress audio recording. President Palmer's integrity is put to the test as he must quickly face the issue of retaliation. His confidence that the Cypress audio may be a forgery is strongly questioned by his staff, who believes he is having difficulty accepting the possibility of World War III. Kim is stuck in a liquor store with a psycho customer, a subplot that is just as stupid as it sounds.
I unfortunately have to knock off half a clock for the liquor store absurdity. 4.5 clocks:
The quest for the validity of the Cypress audio recording continues, and Palmer's belief in this quest generates serious resistance from his staff. Jack's meeting with the mysterious seventh member of the Coral Snake unit is awesome, but Kate Warner's involvement feels somewhat far-fetched and merely a way of keeping her involved in the story. Tony and Michelle's relationship is threatened when he confronts Michelle about her participation in Jack's forbidden assignment. I enjoyed 12:00am-1:00am, but the episode feels stuffed with redundancy and irrelevant filler, such as the continuation of the liquor store subplot.
Jack's story is the only aspect that earns this 4 clocks:
The clock is ticking as the bombers are expected to arrive in the Middle East within four or five hours. The events of the day have invoked racially motivated violence amongst citizens, and while Palmer's proposed resolution is swift and noble, his plan backfires and results in several casualties. The past 17 hours of Kim's day are tidied up far too conveniently. Particularly silly is the brief re-introduction of Miguel as an attempt to add closure to his character. Jack and Kate are caught up in a heart-pounding shootout, which eventually lands them in a nearby urgent care center. Here, Jack proves he can read an X-ray better than a doctor, and he proceeds to commit an unspeakably gruesome act. It is this grisly act, however, that leads to a crucial discovery. 1:00am-2:00am has a few lackluster moments, but they are nowhere dull enough to undermine the power of this episode.
Do I hear the sound of 5 clocks?
This is the only episode this season that feels like somewhat of a letdown. The reason behind Michelle and Carrie's animosity is revealed, proving to be the most ridiculous aspect of the day. What's more, the introduction of the bigots feels as if it belongs in a completely different series. Thankfully, Vice President Prescott's decision to invoke Section Four of the 25th Amendment is a riveting development that keeps this episode intriguing. Also gasp-inducing is the traumatic torture of Jack Bauer, which makes the torture scene in 4:00pm-5:00pm look like Romper Room.
Even the worst episode of 24 earns 3.5 clocks:
I did not believe it could be possible, but Jack's ordeal actually becomes worse. I found this entry to be a highly frustrating episode, filled with vindictiveness and deceit. This may sound like a complaint, but it is not. The sheer entertainment value is at an all time high with moments that nearly had me yelling at my screen. Unfortunately, the bigot subplot continues, which weakens what is otherwise a compelling hour.
Half a clock taken off for the bigot plot angle. 4.5 clocks:
The trial of David Palmer begins. Haysbert's performance here is a wholly engaging portrayal of this highly respected but misunderstood man. More emotions swell as Jack consoles Kate over the tragic events of the day. The way in which he therapeutically dispels his own demons through his reassurance to Kate is masterful. Still, his frustrations have reached a peak as he must follow yet another lead to prove the unreliability of the Cypress audio. 4:00am-5:00am is a slightly more serene episode than the previous mayhem we have seen. Well, as serene as an episode of 24 can be, I suppose.
The dramatic vigor earns this a well-deserved 5 clocks:
This hour could be dubbed "The Proficiency of Tony Almeida." Tony has been a terrific presence all season, but here we see him truly sticking his neck out for the greater cause. I enjoyed watching him and Michelle work their magic in order to ensure the chopper would reach Jack. Elsewhere, we learn a great deal behind the nature of the Cypress recording when Jack confronts the mastermind, Alex Hewitt (Alex Hewitt). About the only minor problem I had with 5:00am-6:00am was the return of Gary Matheson (Billy Burke). While his inclusion felt somewhat strained, it did provide something interesting for Kim to do.
A tense, taut episode worthy of 5 clocks:
This show is killing me! Could one more thing possibly go wrong? I think I need a vacation from all of this agitation. The tension provided here reminds me very much of the adrenaline pumping 11:00am to 12:00pm hour of Season One. I nearly found myself shouting at the characters on several occasions, such as when Hewitt allows his stupidity to foil a perfectly good plan. It is great to not only see President Palmer still heavily involved in the story, but also working as best as he can (with a little help) to assure that the U.S. does not attack three innocent countries. Finally, the President's Chief of Staff, Mike Novick (Jude Ciccollela), is displaying signs of the brain that he possessed in the original season.
An exhausting 5 clocks:
Shortly before 7:00am, I found myself wondering how on earth they were going to wrap up all of this conspiracy in just one hour. The answer is—very quickly and very conveniently. This episode is undoubtedly a thrilling hour of entertainment, but also a bit too rushed to resolution. The denouement feels somewhat tacked-on this season, but it does insinuate that the events of the first two seasons might somehow be connected. I had not noticed in my initial prime time viewing, but the character responsible for the atrocious act in the moments before the clock ticks off at 8:00am is a character that had come and gone as far back as the first several episodes of Season One. I can now hardly wait to see what Season Three holds in store.
A flawed but thrilling conclusion to a terrific season. 4.5 clocks:
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: The sophomore season of 24 features a wide range of visual styles, all of which are represented quite admirably in this collection of image transfers. The 1.78:1 aspect ratio of the original production photography has been preserved and anamorphically enhanced for stunning clarity. Many of the episodes are intentionally grainy, adding to the gritty nature of the story. While I found it to be an effective device, the overt graininess may bother those who prefer a more pristine image. Much of the series appears as if it has been shot with natural lighting, resulting in a genuine but raw appearance. While many of the episodes are quite dark, particularly those that take place at night, the image remains vibrant and detailed even in the dimmest interiors. I am happy to report that edge enhancement has been significantly reduced from the over abundance found on the first season's transfers; while still prevalent, I rarely found its presence distracting. Overall, the picture exhibits a striking aesthetic with few flaws that will distract from the splendor of this compelling series.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: My disappointment over the lack of a 5.1 track on season one has been put to rest this time round. The dynamic range of this audio format benefits the show tremendously, drawing the viewer even deeper into the heart of the 24 universe. I was not quite certain if the capabilities of 5.1 would be fully utilized, but this aggressive sound mix pleasantly surprised me. Split surrounds are put to good use, not only for moments of extreme action such as the shootout in 1:00am-2:00am, but also for atmospheric enhancement during scenes of quiescence. Bass is backed by a powerful .1 LFE channel, which often explodes with powerful intensity. While the soundstage certainly proves exceptional, I am quite displeased to report that what should be the most important element is this soundtrack's weakest link. The dialogue is at times quite distorted, as if the voices have been mixed too hot. I noticed this harsh characteristic during the television broadcasts, but merely blamed it on lousy satellite service. Unfortunately, it appears as if this problem is source-related and unavoidable. The rest of the soundtrack is top-notch, but the grating dialogue is somewhat irritating.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 288 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish
3 Multiple Angles with remote access
42 Deleted Scenes
2 Alternate Endings
6 Feature/Episode commentaries by Carlos Bernard, Sarah Wynter and Michelle Forbes; director Jon Cassar and Sarah Clarke; Penny Johnson Jerald and co-creator Joel Surnow; co-creator Robert Cochran and Xander Berkeley; Kiefer Sutherland and Joel Surnow; Dennis Haysbert and Howard Gord
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Extras Review: When Season One of 24 was released last year, it was apparently rushed out in order to assure advance marketing for the launch of the new season on prime time. While a wonderful set, the one area that was truly lacking was the extras. Season Two corrects this oversight and offers a vast collection of extras, including a seventh disc comprised solely of special features.
Six full-length commentaries are included on pivotal episodes. It is great to hear from such a wide array of participants, including co-creator Joel Surnow as well as cast members Kiefer Sutherland and Dennis Haysbert. Each commentary is interesting, enlightening, and offers fascinating insight into the production of 24.
On the Button is a terrific featurette that illustrates all the hard work and preparation that went into destroying CTU. After a lengthy explanation of how each element of the explosions are carefully constructed, we are given a split screen demonstration to show the initial photography in comparison with the finished shot. This 13-minute featurette offers a tremendous amount of insight into everything that goes into creating just one brief portion of the series.
I could not care less about the usual documentary drivel, where the cast and crew ramble on in regard to who their characters are and what the show is about. What I liked so much about 24: Exposed is how it is a candid tour through the production of several episodes. Here, we get a hands-on approach to everything that goes into creating an episode, including costumes, props, location scouting, stunt rehearsals, secret script meetings, and much more. Divided into two sections, this 90-minute documentary is a fantastic complement to 24.
Next is a multi-angle scene study. The viewer can use the angle button to cycle through three camera angles taken from filming the interrogation scene in 1:00pm-2:00pm. This is an enjoyable section, but I would have liked to have seen more than one scene included.
Could this possibly be the largest collection of deleted scenes ever assembled? I believe so. This overwhelming section consists of 42 deleted scenes as well as two alternate endings. Each of these scenes are fully produced and feature optional commentaries from either Jon Cassar and director of photography Rodney Charters or Cassar and Howard Gordon. As if that were not enough, all of these scenes are also included on discs one through six via a seamless branching technique. With this option enabled, the viewer has the ability to view these scenes as they appear in the context of each respective episode. This is the finest and most comprehensive section of deleted scenes I have ever seen.
Extras Grade: A-
Final CommentsI may not watch much television, but I know quality programming when I see it. The second season of 24 succeeds in dazzling me even more than the first one, when the concept of the series was fresh and new. The Season Two boxed set, featuring a seventh disc solely dedicated to special features, is an improvement over the excellent Season One set. The quality of this presentation and the brilliance of the series are more than enough for me to offer my highest recommendation.
|Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact