Fox // 2006 // 1050 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 4th, 2007
"We've got massive packet loss." -- Chloe O'Brian
Question: After the threat of nuclear attack, presidential assassination, moles in the White House and CTU and the kidnapping of his family, what can Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland, The Sentinel) possibly face off with this season? Answer: all of that stuff again.
When we last left Jack Bauer, he had bent the rules of time and space and found himself bound, gagged, stripped, beaten and tossed on an outbound Chinese freighter within minutes, heading to an ungodly fate in Asia. And then we get the Season 6 prequel where some special forces try to spring Jack from his 24-hour-torture lifestyle in a shiny silver Rav-4.
Fast forward a few months and the United States is under siege. Multiple terrorist attacks have been carried out on the populace and civilians are paralyzed with fear and paranoia. The government, under the weak-kneed leadership of President Wayne Palmer (D.B. Woodside) has even established detainment facilities for Muslims and terrorism suspects, setting off a firestorm of Constitutional controversy.
Back at CTU, head honcho Bill Buchanan (James Morrison) and his crack staff, led by sourpuss Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), race to follow the leads -- which eventually lead to mega-terrorist Abu Fayed (Adoni Maropis). Fayed has an odd demand and that's for Jack Bauer to be hand-delivered. Buchanan pulls some strings and imports Jack from China to feed him to Fayed.
And then a lot of stuff happens after that.
Unfortunately, none of that stuff is good. Okay, maybe there were a few cool things about this season, but make no mistake: 24: Season 6 is far and away the worst season of the show, defeating by a wide margin Season 2. And yes I am saying if a cougar showed up in Season 6, I would have liked it better. That's how disastrous these shows were.
And this is coming from one of the world's foremost 24 apologists. I love this show. Its season premiere had been one of the most anticipated events in the TV seasons for my household. But the damage Season 6 has done to my affair with the series is best illustrated by the fact that I only half-heartedly look forward to the upcoming Season 7, and only for two reasons: 1) the return of the most beloved character this side of Jack Bauer and 2) the pledge by the showrunners to completely overhaul the formula.
That last one is why I nurture an ember of hope for the fate of the series. A few comments about the repetitiveness of the plotlines popped up online from the writers, so at least they're self-aware of the season's flaws. Maybe they do mean it when they say Season 7 will reinvent itself. We'll see.
Onto the task at hand however. As usual, if you haven't seen this particular selection of shows and want to go in unspoiled, beware. The vague, capsule review, however, is simple: Jack Bauer's greatest challenge this go-round was the poor writing, moronic plotting, forgettable characters and the highest number of cringe-worthy or derisive-laugh-inducing moments in the show's history.
Now, to be more specific why Season 6 crashed and burned:
Everything you've seen in prior seasons came back to kick it once more for the sixth outing: nuclear threats, the threat of war from those nuclear threats, a shadowy conspiracy of "patriotic Americans" willing to fry millions of their citizens to achieve some ambiguous goal that's supposedly Good For The Country, an assassination attempt on the President of the United States, a mole in CTU, the utter ineptitude of CTU's anti-mole security corps, nobody listening to what Jack has to say and thus needlessly prolonging the crisis, Jack going rogue, kidnapping of Jack's family, and, of course, the inevitable appearance of jilted Eurotrash that have something to do with the plot. We've seen this all before and it was kind of cool in Season 1-5, but the rehash-frappe that's been cobbled together for Season 6 is devoid of originality and suspense.
Worst. President. Ever.
First of all, who the @#$% vetted Wayne Palmer for candidacy and how come the opposing party was unable to reveal the whole affair-that-ended-in-the-death-of-three-people things back in Season 4?! Somehow this ass clown gets elected and promptly metamorphoses into a premium pantywaist, unable to make decisions for himself, projecting weakness at every turn (love his threat that "one more nuclear attack" means war; in the US, the first nuke is free!) and, worst of all, he delivers all of his tiresome speeches and monologues with the condescending tone of an Earth Science teacher with a Ph. D. instructing junior high school dropouts. Thankfully, the writers develop a plot contrivance that mercifully frees us from the cumbersome ponderings of President Palmer 2: Electric Boogaloo and introduces us to Powers Boothe's deranged VP.
Sandra and Walid
Good lord these two were simultaneously boring and irritating-as-a-foot-inflammation. Their arcs mysteriously evaporated a few episodes in and that's a blessing, but their presence in the first place existed to a) pad the runtime and b) counterbalance Jack's unrestrained violence and terrorist-killing with Very Important Teachable Moments.
Time to cut the federal funding to this bureaucratic rat-hole. Besides consistently dealing with moles and terrorist incursions into their utility closets, this alleged elite intelligence unit is apparently comprised of adults with the emotional maturity of the cast of Saved by the Bell. Relationship gossip, backbiting, alcoholism, catfights, petty squabbles far outweigh number-crunching and satellite monitoring and -- if you can believe it -- vectoring!
Characters Nobody Cares About
I've long maintained that the showrunners fatally wounded the show by offing Tony and Michelle last season, effectively smiting two of the best characters of the show. Their loss wasn't felt too much last season because of the stellar work of Gregory Itzin and Jena Smart but here, it really stings. Instead we get Milo and Morris and Nadia and a neutered Chloe. Sad. It's worse in the Presidential bunker, a claustrophobic set populated with even more stiffs.
I've saved the most egregious misstep for last. Jack Bauer is given far less screen time this season than any others. There were episodes where Jack would be M.I.A. for nearly half a show. This is unacceptable. Writers, producers, directors, studio executives, key grips, caterers, horse wranglers, anyone affiliated with this show, listen and listen close: watching Jack Bauer eat a Whatchamacallit or clipping his toenails would have no doubt been leagues more engaging than enduring another Wayne Palmer scolding or Milo making googly-eyes at Nadia while twirling his porn-star mustache or Jack's goofy nephew bitching at his father (who looks like that guy with the goggles that analyzes data for Klytus in Flash Gordon) or Peter MacNicol endlessly espousing domestic policy. Whatever destiny Season 7 may hold, there better be whole lot more Jack Bauer.
Fox sent us test disc screeners, complete with the studio logo sporadically appearing in the corner of the screen and iffy video quality in some episodes. I assume with a high degree of confidence that the finished product will not have these shortcomings, but that doesn't make any me happier with screener discs. The 24 releases tend to be some of the slickest produced TV sets and despite the sometimes shifty video quality, overall the picture (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen) was solid. The 5.1 audio track was up to snuff and are great mixes when the bullets fly. Despite my curmudgeonly feelings towards unfinished review product, this set will have it when it counts, I'm sure, by the time it hits the shelves.
As with previous release, tons of extras. Each disc (save the last one, mysteriously) boasts selected episode commentary with writers, actors and other behind-the-scenes specialists. All of them tend to be good, though Gregory Itzin and Jean Smart's tracks were fantastic; goodness gracious how their regular appearances were missed this season. Additionally, deleted scenes and alternate takes are woven into the shows, prompting a push of a button to view them when the option is activated. These scenes can be found centralized on the seventh disc, which is totally devoted to bonus materials.
There you'll find featurettes on the make-up, special effects and far-out CTU technology, a candid discussion with the writers, which finds them discussing the ballyhooed torture controversy that stemmed out of this year's show (duh? Have any of these do-gooder been watching this show for the past five years?!), an hour's worth of web diaries and 15 minutes of disposable "mobisodes," a hilarious skit with Ricky Gervais, previews and DVD-ROM content, which apparently gains the owner entry to exclusive stuff during Season 7. Speaking of Season 7, gone is the traditional prequel, which, admittedly, was pretty worthless last time, but it doesn't mean I don't want it anymore. In its place was a brief preview. Lastly, Kiefer Sutherland delivers a PSA about how the production will do their part to fight global warming and reducing their carbon footprint. Whatever, dude. Just don't let the self-aggrandizing interfere the writing next season, okay?
I know I came down pretty hard on this season and for good reason: it sucked. But there were some moments of coolness to be found. Ricky Schroeder blasts on the scene with a sweet character, the great James Cromwell memorably guest-stars and there's one of the all-time greatest Jack Bauer hand-to-hand combat boss fights ever.
The show has always stretched reality, but most of that was forgiven because Bauer was awesome and the narrative was suspenseful. Bauer is still awesome but he's onscreen far less and the storytelling was as tense as reading the back of Skippy peanut butter jar. We'll see if the writers can dig themselves out of the deep, deep hole they created for themselves in the upcoming season.
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 1050 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Cast and Crew Commentary
* Season Seven Preview
* Make-Up Featurette
* Pyrotechnics Featurette
* CTU Technology
* Inside the Writer's Room
* Deleted scenes
* Global Warming PSA
* Web Diaries
* Ricky Gervais Cameo
* Official Site
* Season Two Review
* Season Three Review
* Season Four Review
* Season Five Review