Now this is a TV show! I think 24 is the first show that stresses me out when I watch it. Every episode has me glued to my set, and I cringe when the clock displays the final seconds of the show. The format is simple; take a day and divide it into 24, 1 hour episodes. The events take place in real time (minus time for commercials). In order to keep the plot secret for those who haven't seen the show, I'm going to use the description off the back of the box.
It's been over a year since his wife's death, but Jack Bauer and his daughter are still reeling from the tragedy. The two are estranged and Jack no longer works for CTU. But an urgent phone call from the President plunges Jack back into another 24-hour nightmare of pulse-pounding terror and suspense as he races against time to prevent the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles.
I love this show, I really do. 24 breaks out the mold that most action shows follow. The innovative format is both a blessing and a curse. If you miss an episode you could be screwed because characters could be dead, and the plot could change dramatically. I have a number of friends that started watching the show last year and then missed a couple of episodes so they stopped watching it. Fox made a smart move by releasing the first season on DVD before the second season aired, and the result was a huge jump in viewership. By releasing this set before the third season airs, hopefully they can increase the viewership again.
This DVD set makes me want to give up watching broadcast airings of the show. I don't have HDTV so I watch the regular 4:3 airing of the episodes while these DVDs contain a wonderful anamorphic widescreen 16:9 picture. The picture is near perfect, except for a bit of grain in some scenes. The colors are bang-on, and the widescreen version of the show is phenomenal. If I weren't such a huge fan of the show I would just wait for the DVDs and skip the broadcast airings.
Dolby Digital 5.1 shines on a show like this. The chaos of the show is heightened with a good sound mix like this one. The rear speakers contain so many subtle effects that add to the ambiance of the show without going overboard. I noticed a number of spots in the earlier episodes where characters yelling seemed a bit distorted. Along with the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track we also have a Spanish Surround track and English and Spanish subtitles, as well as closed captioning.
If you own the first season of 24 you know that the set was fairly bare. The set was rushed and the special features suffered. Fox has made up for this with the release of the second season.
Commentary on selected episodes
Each disc in the set features commentary on an episode by cast and crew. Each track contains great information from the participants. In what must be a DVD first, the actor-only commentary isn't filled with fluff, but solid bits about the acting process and the show in general. Participants are as follows:
11 am - 12 pm Commentary by Carlos Bernard, Sarah Wynter and Michelle Forbes
1 pm - 2 pm Commentary by Jon Casser and Sarah Wynter
5 pm - 6 pm Commentary by Penny Johnson Jerald & Joel Surnow
10 pm - 11 pm Commentary by Robert Cochran and Xander Berkeley
3 am - 4 am Commentary by Keifer Sutherland and Joel Surnow
4 am - 5 am Commentary by Denis Haysbert and Howard Gordon
24 Exposed (87:45)
Freakin' awesome!! This is the best special feature on a DVD I've seen since I started this site. The documentary walks through every stage of the final 2 episodes, from secret meetings to the wrap of the season, it's all here. Filmmaker Marc Ostrick did a wonderful job on this documentary, and I was pleased to hear that he'll have a shorter feature on the second season of The Shield. The documentarian was so close to the action; he can be seen in the final episode. I want to see Ostrick involved in documentaries for more DVD sets.
On The Button - Exploding The CTU (13:14)
This featurette examines the work that went into blowing up the CTU office in one of the earlier episodes. Another excellent feature for this DVD set.
Multi-Angle Scene Study (7:53)
This is the lamest of the extras in the set. The interrogation scene between Bauer and Myers features footage from two cameras. Use your remote button to switch between the A and B camera, or view footage from both at the same time.
Deleted Scenes (1:00:07)
Time on this show is tight and carefully measured. Here are 45 deleted scenes or alternate takes. These scenes can be accessed on the 7th disc, or they can be accessed while the episodes are playing by clicking the "enter" button on your remote when the "24" logo appears on the screen.
If you've ever wondered about this show, here's your chance to experience the show at its best. Nice commentary tracks, and an amazing documentary make this a DVD set to own.
In a few weeks I'll be ditching some shows from my "must watch" list, but you can bet that 24 is secure. This is a show that any action fan will want to see, and this set belongs in everyone's collection. Fox does it again.