24: SEASON 2
Reviewed October 13th, 2003 by Dan Jones
24 is without a doubt one of the best shows on television period. With a relatively simple idea in theory, though undoubtedly painful to pull off in practice, 24 brings us 24 consecutive one-hour episodes in real-time. In the first season Jack Bauer, an agent of the California based Counter Terrorism Unit, succeeded in stopping the assassination of the then presidential hopeful, David Palmer; who was at the time the first African American to have a real shot at the presidency. While he succeeded in this task, Jack lost his wife, murdered by someone he thought he could trust.
Season two starts off with Jack no longer working for CTU, as well as his relationship with his daughter Kim severely broken after the climax of season one. Back in CTU it seems there is a high level terrorist threat being reported, specifically that of a nuclear weapon inside Los Angeles preparing to be detonated, you guessed it, within 24 hours. Of course, Jack is called in (by President Palmer), and reluctantly agrees, starting his way of doing things with a handgun and a hacksaw. Yep.
Much like season one, there’s far more stories going on then you might assume, one of which revolves around the ever so unlucky Kim Bauer. It seems she’s now a babysitter for a girl who has a, as we soon find out, less then stellar father; or should I say psycho? Happily enough Kim still seems to do the exact opposite of what would be logical. Next, we have the preparation for a wedding in the Warner family, though Kate suspects that the man who will marry her daughter might be stealing money from the family; or maybe he’s a terrorist? Finally, we have many side stories revolving around the now president, David Palmer, who seems to have chosen himself a less then trustworthy cabinet.
Season two of 24 had a lot to live up to and succeeded in most every way. The story is larger and far more convoluted then the first, as well the subject matter far closer to what we are experiencing in the world, almost frightening similar. Once again the show is highly addictive, typically with huge cliffhangers happening within the last twenty seconds, making it almost terrifying to think about watching season three on TV rather then DVD where you can watch an episode or ten without a delay. The acting from the main cast is top-notch once again, with Sutherland easily slipping back into the Jack Bauer suit.
As for this DVD release, Fox has put much more into this seven-disc set then the previous set, not surprising due to the increased popularity of the show. One thing that should be known about this release is the way Fox did each episode screen with a picture from a scene in that episode. While this seems relatively harmless if done correctly, it had a habit of giving away far too much information or somewhat ruining the cliffhanger from the previous episode. Sure it’s just a still shot but even that can be too much. Hopefully next time this will be taken into account, as after a while I had to select each episode by looking away from the TV and hitting enter until I heard the 24 intro sound start. A little annoyance but noteworthy nonetheless.
Video wise, the show is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks great. Detail is solid and the print is immaculate. Colors are good with nice flesh tones, while darks and blacks are robust while keeping solid shadow detail. About as reference quality as a TV show can get. Fantastic work.
As for audio we’re given a surprisingly active 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. I was really taken aback by this mix actually, mainly due to its very active surround channel use, something a little unexpected from a television show. Dynamic range is solid, while the LFE is deep and pronounced when it’s needed. Extremely impressive.
Also available are subtitles in English or Spanish.
A nice addition sorely missing from the first season is a selection of six audio commentaries, one per disc. Participating are Carlos Bernard, Sarah Wynter, Michelle Forbes, John Cassar, Sarah Clarke, Penny Johnson Jerald, Joel Surnow, Robert Cochran, Xander Berkeley, Kiefer Sutherland, Joel Surnow, Dennis Haysbert, and Howard Gordon.
Starting off the bonus-disc’s extras are 45 deleted/alternate scenes. These scenes are also available using seamless branching on the original episodes (wait for the 24 logo to appear). These are worth a watch, albeit a bit tedious to go through all at once on disc seven. We’re also given a couple alternate endings, somewhat like the first season release. Though this time a fake ending was shot just to throw off those who might want to leak the ending to the internet. Clever indeed.
“24 Exposed: Part 1”, gives us quite a bit of behind the scenes information, from the secret meeting with the supposed “secret ending”, to large production meetings on where the story is going next and what has to be prepared for. We also get a look at the selection of the arena for the film’s climax, originally planned to be the Hollywood Bowl. Also included are interviews with some of the cast, as well as a look at how much freedom they have in doing the show; what they feel characters should do or if they think something should be changed. Especially powerful in making of the show it seems is Sutherland, not surprising considering his many roles in the series.
“24 Exposed: Part 2” delves more into the filming of final climax of the season. We get more training of the actors, specifically Sutherland, and rehearsal for his hand-to-hand combat scene. We also get a peek into the casting process, as well as a short bit on editing and putting the show together.
Rounding out the extras we have “On the Button: Exploding the CTU” which gives us a look at how the destruction of CTU was shot, and a multi-angle featurette of the interrogation of a returning character from season one who will remain nameless for those who haven’t seen it yet.
Overall season two of 24 is an excellent sequel to the breakthrough first season. As for DVD releases, season two is a huge improvement over the first, with excellent audio and video as well as a very nice set of extras. This set cannot be recommended highly enough. Go get it.
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