"24: SEASON 7"
Blu-Ray Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ***** (out of 5 stars)

    STARRING
    Kiefer Sutherland as JACK BAUER
    Cherry Jones as PRESIDENT ALLISON TAYLOR
    Annie Wersching as RENEE WALKER
    Carlos Bernard as TONY ALMEIDA
    Colm Feore as HENRY TAYLOR
    Bob Gunton as ETHAN KANIN
    Jefrey Nordling as LARRY MOSS
    Mary Lynn Rajskub as CHLOE O’BRIAN
    James Morrison as BILL BUCHANAN
    Janeane Garofalo as JANIS GOLD
    Jon Voight as JONAS HODGES

    Rated Not Rated
    Studio: FOX

    Created by: Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
In this season of “24,” Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is on trial for his use of torture and other unsavory acts over the past few years. However, when the FBI discovers that former CTU agent Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard ) is working with an African military leader from the war-torn country of Sangala to steal a device that controls all communications in the U.S., Jack is brought back into service to help.

The new President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) tries to keep her administration and personal life afloat after her son’s death, and she faces new challenges with the military leaders of Sangala. Jack joins forces with idealistic FBI agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) to bring down the Sangala rebels, fight domestic terrorism and overthrow a shadow conspiracy that reaches into the heart of the U.S. government itself.

WHAT I LIKED
I only started watching “24” a couple years ago with season five, and I have been hooked ever since. After a shaky season six (which I did enjoy quite a lot, even if it was pounded a bit by the critics) and a stalled season due to the writer’s strike, I dove into season seven.

What has made “24” great in the past continues to rule in this season. The look of “24” is very cinematic, lending it to a worthwhile purchase on Blu-ray. Not only is the look of the series brilliantly done, but the sound design is complex enough to warrant a home theater experience. Along with series like “Lost” and “Battlestar Galactica,” “24” has stepped up the grade of television production and given viewers the equivalent of a feature film each week. It was a pioneering show, and it continues to rule the quality of the airwaves.

My favorite aspect to “24” is that it is not a clean show. It’s ugly and dirty, and while it isn’t always terribly realistic, it sucks the viewer in. It’s unpredictable enough to keep you guessing, knowing that (with the possible exception of Jack Bauer himself), anyone could get killed. And yes, we do lose some characters in this season like previous ones, which is a daring move but also keeps the show fresh.

Another great aspect to the series that is continued in this season is that the story and characters exist in the gray area of the human condition. The audience’s rationalization of this gray area is personified by Agent Walker, who initially questions Jack Bauer’s techniques but ends up accepting them as a necessary evil of the world. Even the good guys have a dark side, and loyalties shift on an hour-to-hour basis.

And let’s not forget the geek-out potential of seeing the two computer whizzes of Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Janis Gold (Janeane Garofalo) have a few fun tete-a-tete moments in this season. Long live the geeks!

After the writer’s strike and a rocky start to this season, the future of “24” was in question. However, if the quality of season seven is kept up in future seasons, we should see many more hours in many more days to come.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Like previous seasons of “24,” the show doesn’t work as well taken all in a short span of time. Give yourself some time between episodes... at least a day or two. Otherwise, the story becomes too repetitive and ridiculous to handle.

For as much as “24” was give some credit in the election of Barack Obama because the earliest seasons featured the first black president, I wouldn’t expect a female president any time soon. Sorry, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. You can blame Cherry Jones and the fictional character of Allison Taylor, one of the most wishy washy Commanders in Chief to show up on television. She makes so many lousy decisions in this show that she became one of the most annoying characters in recent years.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The six-disc box set of “24: Season 7” includes all the episodes in glorious high definition with a 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix. Each disc includes commentaries on one to three episodes, featuring various members of the production team (mostly executive producers) and an occasional cast member.

Disc 1 includes the featurette “The Fimucité Festival Presents: The Music of 24,” which consists of a filmed music orchestration cut together with clips of the season, running approximately 15 minutes.

Disc 5 includes the featurette “Hour 19: The Ambush,” which details the complicated effect of blowing up an entire building.

Disc 6 includes about a half hour of deleted scenes with producer commentary. It also includes a half-hour featurette called “24-7: The Untold Story,” which details the many creative, writing, production and logistics issues leading up to this season. If you ever wondered why there were so many false starts, how the writer’s strike affected the show and why they decided to make a prequel movie, you’ll get the answers in this enlightening and informative featurette.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who like action-oriented, cinematic, politically charged television... and anyone who wants to see Jack Bauer kick ass.

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