"24: SEASON 6"

        MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)

    Kiefer Sutherland as JACK BAUER
    Mary Lynn Rajskub as CHLOE O’BIAN
    James Morrison as BILL BUCHANAN
    D.B. Woodside as PRESIDENT PALMER
    Jayne Atkinson as KAREN HAYES
    Peter MacNicol as TOM LENNOX

    Studio: FOX

    Created by: Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran

Unlike most fans of “24,” I only started watching last year on DVD. Starting with Season Five gave me an interesting perspective in that I was introduced to Jack Bauer in his uncompromising glory. He was no longer saddled with love and fear of losing his wife. That was ancient history. Day Five on DVD got me hooked on the series, and I actually caught Day Six on television earlier this year.

Taking a look back at Day Six on DVD, I’m left curious on how they are going to top things (and if they’ll have a chance with the ongoing writer’s strike) next year. For the sixth excursion into CTU, Jack is sprung from a Chinese prison as a negotiating tool for terrorists. And this is a good thing, too, because when the inevitable double-cross comes, Jack is the only one with guts enough to save the day... again and again throughout the season.

Watching any season of “24” on DVD is different than seeing it on a week-by-week basis as it’s broadcast. The flaws of the show, especially in the timing and believability of the premise, works so much better in smaller chunks. But there’s definitely a joy to having a “24” orgy on the weekend and enjoying the entire seasons in one sleepless sitting.

Ultimately, though, you’re not watching this show for believability. You’re watching to see where it will go and how the story can shock and excite you. In Day Six, things are taken farther than ever, with devastating terrorist attacks, family drama and the ups and downs of torture. Certain things are wild and crazy, like Wayne Palmer looking more like a spokesman for Michael Jordan’s cologne than the President of the United States, but most are forgivable. And that adds to the fun.

My favorite part of “24” – and it’s very apparent in this season – is how gray of a show it is. Even in the midst of black and white morals, nothing is sacred, and our emotions are almost always conflicted. Loyalties will spin on a dime, and no one is protected from being a stat in the body-count list. Even as stories come to a close, there are plenty of loose ends, which happen in real life.

All 24 episodes are kept on the first six discs, with the seventh reserved exclusively for bonus features. They range from the promotional (e.g., a Season 7 preview as well as a preview for “Prison Break: Season 2”) to the minutia (e.g., webcast diaries and DVD-ROM exclusives). There’s also a funny bit with Ricky Gervas’ cameo, and if you care to search for it, you can find the Easter egg featuring Bart Simpson crank calling Jack Bauer.

The standard features are also there, including extended and deleted scenes as well as featurettes on shooting the opening scene, make-up effects and the technology of the series. If you can stomach the preachy global warming PSA with Kiefer Sutherland, you can make it to the mobisodes which show Jack’s debriefing after the day is over. One of the most interesting features to me was the sit-down in the writers room where the lead writers discuss the development of the scripts and what might be in store for future episodes.


        MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Billy West as PHILIP J. FRY
    Katey Sagal as TURANGA LEELA
    John Di Maggio as BENDER RODRIGUEZ

    Not Rated
    Studio: FOX

    Directed by: Dwayne Carey-Hill

While I’ve been a fan of “The Simpsons” for years, I never got into “Futurama.” To be honest, I never gave it a chance, really, so it’s not that I was repulsed by the show. And by the time I actually got around to watching it, my only option was to see it on Adult Swim, which I can’t watch in front of the kids. (Damn rules at home!)

So my first taste of “Futurama” was by watching the movie “Futurama: Bender’s Big Score.” And while I thought it was funny and interesting, there was a large part that I just didn’t get. Yet, in my discussions with what seems to be every other human being on the Earth, the fans of the show were chomping at the bit to see it.

So, instead of just relying on my opinion, I’m going to assume that if you are a fan of the show, you’re going to go bonkers over this movie. In many ways, it reminded me of Kevin Smith’s “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” which really was nothing more than a giant 90-minute in-joke with the fans. As a guy who likes Kevin Smith’s films, I enjoyed “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” I imagine if I had seen enough “Futurama” episodes, I would have felt similarly about “Bender’s Big Score.

The story doesn’t pull any punches, especially those thrown at the studio execs of FOX. Making a barrage of jokes about being cancelled, the movie launches into a story about the Futurama team getting swindled by alien scam artists. In the process, they discover a tattoo on Fry’s ass that cracks the secret of time travel. Under the control of the aliens, Bender pillages the past for treasure, but Fry and Leela have a plan to save the world... and Fry’s ass.

Much like the film itself, the special features are loaded with in-jokes, including an actual 30-minute episode of “Everyone Loves Hypnotoad.” And with the exception of a rather annoying and preachy moment with Al Gore trumpeting his fight against global warming, most of the features are pretty entertaining.

Other features include a commentary with the cast and filmmakers, a comic book reading from Comic-Con, deleted storyboard scenes, 3D models and turnarounds, the first draft of the ship, design sketches, a 5-minute Comic-Con promo and a unique math lecture from the “Futurama” geeks.

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