24: SEASON 5
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ****1/2 (out of 5)
Kiefer Sutherland as JACK BAUER
Mary Lynn Rajskub as CHLOE O’BRIAN
Kim Raver as AUDREY RAINES
Jean Smart as MARTHA LOGAN
James Morrison as BILL BUCHANAN
Gregory Itzin as PRESIDENT LOGAN
Created by: Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran
BY KEVIN CARR
Since I’ve been doing movie and DVD reviews, I rarely get a chance to check out broadcast television. As a result, there’s a lot of great TV that passes me by, at least until I review the seasons on DVD. I remember hearing about “24” several years ago in its first season, and I wanted to watch the show. However, it’s one of those continuous shows that you need to watch in sequence or you’ll be completely lost.
By the time I could check it out, I was so swamped with DVDs and movies to watch, I never had the time to devote to the series. Now, I’ve had a chance to check out Season 5, which was recently released on DVD, and I’m glad I did.
Ranking up there with “Lost,” “24” is probably one of the best dramas on television now – very well deserving of its Golden Globe nomination. It’s not as good as “Lost” due to some bending of reality, time sequence and logic, but it’s still pretty darn good.
What’s nice about TV-on-DVD is that it allows you to catch an entire season in a short amount of time. Sure TiVo will help you from missing the shows when they’re broadcast, but there’s a decadent guilty pleasure in blowing an entire weekend watching an entire season of television.
If you’re not familiar with the format of the show, “24” takes place in supposed real-time. Each season comprises 24 episodes, and each episode represents an hour in the course of a single day. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is the focus of the show. He’s part of an elite anti-terrorist government agency called the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU).
The beginning of Season 5 opens with a recap of what happened when we last saw Jack. In Season 4, Jack was being hunted by the Chinese, and some of his colleagues help him fake his death. Flash-forward eighteen months, and we begin at 6:00 a.m. on day five of the series.
Jack is suddenly pulled back into helping CTU after a mysterious group has started knocking off the people who know he’s alive, including former President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert). This drags Jack back into the workings of CTU, both as an outsider and as a reinstated employee. Throughout the course of the season, he’s trying to thwart terrorists’ use of VX nerve gas on innocent people, presidential assassinations and government officials getting wrapped up in treasonous acts.
Season 5 was actually a good time to jump into the series. Like Season Three of “Alias” (which is when I started watching), the show took a clean break and thinned the character heard. The writing of the show is snappy enough to recap what happened in the past so there aren’t so many questions. In short, it’s easy to join the series already in progress without too much confusion.
The best part about “24” is the show’s guts. This show has possibly the highest body count I’ve seen on television. No one (except perhaps Jack himself) is safe from harm. Anyone can die in any episode. This is a giant leap forward from the “Star Trek” days when you know Kirk, Spock and McCoy were safe when they beam down to a planet, but that no-name ensign in the red shirt was sure to bite the big one.
“24: Season 5” includes several featurettes that celebrate everything from the show’s 100th episode to the plot twists in the series. There’s multiple episode commentaries throughout the 24 installments, featuring actors and directors. Finally, an entire episode’s worth of deleted scenes round out the seventh bonus disc.
Shows like “Lost” and “24” give me hope for dramatic series television. It’s a positive evolution from the old format of disjointed week-to-week rumblings, and it gives the shows’ writers and directors a chance to expand on the long-form format.
Like “Alias,” I’m hooked. Thanks to DVR technology, I’ll be checking out Season 6 as it starts it continuous run this January.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.78:1). Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.