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Case Number 08282

Buy 24: Season Four at Amazon

24: Season Four

Fox // 2005 // 1052 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 9th, 2006

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All Rise...

Thanks to this season, Judge David Johnson is going to be very suspicious of that quiet Middle Eastern family that lives down the street from him. Just kidding Cair!

Editor's Note

Our reviews of 24: Season One: Special Edition (published June 6th, 2008), 24: Season Two (published October 7th, 2003), 24: Season Three (published January 12th, 2005), 24: Season Five (published January 1st, 2007), 24: Season 6 (published December 4th, 2007), 24: Season 7 (Blu-Ray) (published June 26th, 2009), 24: Season Seven (published June 1st, 2009), and 24: Season Eight (Blu-Ray) (published December 29th, 2010) are also available.

The Charge

"Spare me your sixth-grade Michael Moore logic!"—Secretary of Defense Heller

Opening Statement

These terrorists can't take the frickin' hint: stay clear of L.A.! Jack Bauer's got your number! Oh well, who am I to complain? That just means more grist for the Bauer terrorist-killin' mill. Kiefer Sutherland returns as his hard-ass hero to battle yet another threat(s) to national security.

Facts of the Case

The 24 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
A plot to destroy the country.

On the second day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the third day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Six moles a' snitchin'
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the seventh day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the eighth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the ninth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the thirteenth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the fourteenth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Fourteen nameless CTU agents a-dying,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the fifteenth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Fifteen bathroom breaks not-a-taking,
Fourteen nameless CTU agents a-dying,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the sixteenth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Sixteen fingers a-breaking,
Fifteen bathroom breaks not-a-taking,
Fourteen nameless CTU agents a-dying,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the seventeenth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Seventeen hippies not-a-bathing,
Sixteen fingers a-breaking,
Fifteen bathroom breaks not-a-taking,
Fourteen nameless CTU agents a-dying,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the eighteenth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Eighteen maids a-milking,
Seventeen hippies not-a-bathing,
Sixteen fingers a-breaking,
Fifteen bathroom breaks not-a-taking,
Fourteen nameless CTU agents a-dying,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the nineteenth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Nineteen Arnolds a-Voslooing,
Eighteen maids a-milking,
Seventeen hippies not-a-bathing,
Sixteen fingers a-breaking,
Fifteen bathroom breaks not-a-taking,
Fourteen nameless CTU agents a-dying,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the twentieth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Twenty Marines a-deploying,
Nineteen Arnolds a-Voslooing,
Eighteen maids a-milking,
Seventeen hippies not-a-bathing,
Sixteen fingers a-breaking,
Fifteen bathroom breaks not-a-taking,
Fourteen nameless CTU agents a-dying,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the twenty-first day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Twenty-one doors a-busting,
Twenty Marines a-deploying,
Nineteen Arnolds a-Voslooing,
Eighteen maids a-milking,
Seventeen hippies not-a-bathing,
Sixteen fingers a-breaking,
Fifteen bathroom breaks not-a-taking,
Fourteen nameless CTU agents a-dying,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the twenty-second day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Twenty-two rockets a-launching,
Twenty-one doors a-busting,
Twenty Marines a-deploying,
Nineteen Arnolds a-Voslooing,
Eighteen maids a-milking,
Seventeen hippies not-a-bathing,
Sixteen fingers a-breaking,
Fifteen bathroom breaks not-a-taking,
Fourteen nameless CTU agents a-dying,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the twenty-third day of Christmas,br /> Jack Bauer sent to me,
Twenty-three EMP bombs a-pulsing,
Twenty-two rockets a-launching,
Twenty-one doors a-busting,
Twenty Marines a-deploying,
Nineteen Arnolds a-Voslooing,
Eighteen maids a-milking,
Seventeen hippies not-a-bathing,
Sixteen fingers a-breaking,
Fifteen bathroom breaks not-a-taking,
Fourteen nameless CTU agents a-dying,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs,
And a plot to destroy the country.

On the twenty-fourth day of Christmas, Jack Bauer sent to me,
Twenty-four terrorists a-ventilating
Twenty-three EMP bombs a-pulsing,
Twenty-two rockets a-launching,
Twenty-one doors a-busting,
Twenty Marines a-deploying,
Nineteen Arnolds a-Voslooing,
Eighteen maids a-milking,
Seventeen hippies not-a-bathing,
Sixteen fingers a-breaking,
Fifteen bathroom breaks not-a-taking,
Fourteen nameless CTU agents a-dying,
Thirteen Fords a-driving,
Twelve girlfriends a-bitching,
Eleven patches a-souling,
Ten national Muslim organizations a-placating,
Nine prisoners a-torturing,
Eight "Dammits!" a-shouting,
Seven cells a-sleeping
Six moles a-snitching
Five gunshot wounds!
Four covert spies,
Three henchmen,
Two dirtbag thugs…

And a plot to destroy the country.

The Evidence

Spoiler-free Review
Uh, there's a bunch of bad guys and Jack Bauer shoots them a lot. Now, go watch it.

This season is especially tough to describe without ruining any of the killer moments, because, frankly, there's so many of them. While there are no neck-breaking plot twists like Nina's reveal in the first season (has any piece of episodic television ever topped that insane twist?!?) this fourth go-round of Kiefer Sutherland's real-time thriller is laden with smaller surprises.

While I've heard plenty of gripes about this season being sub-standard, for my nickel, number four was just as compulsively watchable as any season that preceded it. Sure it was fraught with logic holes you can drive Bauer's standard issue Ford Expedition through and a handful of narrative threads were abruptly and distractingly cut off, but just the fact that the showrunners are able to pull of a 24-episode long real-time series trumps those minor complaints. And the fact that the show is damn good elevates it, frankly, into the broadcast stratosphere where only shows like Arrested Development and Lost reside.

Simply put, 24 is the best hour-long on television, and season four delivered all the thrills, violence, twists and soul patches that fans have come to know and love. And while I admit there have been stronger seasons (1 and 3 are the best in my opinion), there is a simple fact that is inescapable: an uneven episode of 24 is likely a better hour spent than anywhere else on the tube.

If you missed this season, go watch it now. If you've missed this show entirely, well, you've got a lot of catching up to do.

Spoiler-laden Review
Okay, tread no further if you haven't seen any of this season. I'm going to get into specific plot points and characters and you will have some prime moments ruined for you if you proceed.

24 Season 4: The Good, The Bad, and The Kick-Ass

The Good

The terror threats.
This season, the writers took a different route with respect to the threat Jack Bauer has to face. Season One focused on David Palmer's assassination, Season Two was all about the nuke, and Season Three a viral contagion was the flavor of the day. Here, CTU and pals must deal with four separate attacks: the kidnapping of the Secretary of Defense, a mass nuclear reactor meltdown, an assault on Air Force One, and, finally, a nuclear warhead launch. The downside is that all that crap hitting the fan stretches the plausibility limit, but the upside is apparent: a non-stop barrage of zaniness that Bauer has to defuse, which, of course, is what all the kiddies like.

Returning faces
When this season opens, we find the cast gutted. Only Jack and Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) return from seasons past, replaced by a gaggle of no names and new faces. At first, this is a definite struggle (I'll talk more about this in the "Bad" section), but the writers eventually wise up, and the veterans begin to reappear: Tony (Carlos Bernard), Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth), Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), and Mike Novick (Jude Ciccolella). Their resurgence is most welcome, and, best yet, no Kim Bauer!!!

New faces volume 1
Not all the new folks sucked. After all is said and done, we get some excellent additions to the CTU universe. Roger Cross's Curtis Manning started out annoying, but by the end of the season he became a super bad-ass, and Jack's go-to guy. His takedown of Mandy in the parking garage got me and my wife out of our seat. Edgar Stiles (Louis Lombardi), the socially awkward CTU tech was enormously entertaining, and proved to be a great foil for the equally awkward Chloe. Finally, Bill Buchanan (James Morrison), who took over CTU late in the game proved to be an able, reasonable leader who recognized Jack Bauer's ultimate supremacy.

The villain.
Here's another curve ball the writers threw into their 24 formula: they stuck with one villain from the beginning. Habib Marwan (Arnold Vosloo) is one slippery terrorist, and though he made a few too many escapes, his presence straight through was a refreshing alternative to the usual "bad guy/badder guy pulling the strings" dynamic present in the other seasons. Thankfully, there's no default Eurotrash mercenary or greedy oil conglomerate that emerges from the shadows as the true heavy; Marwan is capable, sinister, and—gasp!—an Islamic fanatic! No, they can't do that, can they?!? Plus, it sets up a great adversarial relationship between him and Bauer that has teeth.

The Araz family.
And you want to talk about balls, the inclusion of a suburban sleeper cell Middle Eastern family certainly stirred the pot. Both Nester Serrano and Shohreh Aghdashloo, playing the Mr. and Mrs. Araz, are awesome as the cold-blooded killer Cleaver family. Yeah it provoked a response from oversensitive PC groups, but what a chilling set of villains. And Mrs. Araz was righteous MILF-material, evil or not.

The Bad

New faces volume 2
For every decent new addition to the show, there was a pain in the butt. New CTU-ers Sarah Gavin (Lana Parilla) and Erin Driscoll (Alberta Watson) were bland and uninteresting, and were eventually shown the door. Though Watson was a strong presence, her character was unlikable, and with her alienation of Jack, I, along with other fans I would presume, immediately turned cold to her. Then there was Audrey, an example of --

Jack's continuing string of irritating girlfriends.
Since Terri Bauer bought the farm, not one of Jack's love interests has been remotely interesting. Audrey Raines (Kim Raver) is no exception. Though not as unbearable as Sarah Wynter's Kate Warner from Season Two, Audrey's good-girl schtick quickly grew tedious; if she had been a traitor, which I was pulling for from moment one, that would have been cool. In the end, however, she was just a boring character who gave Jack a lot of crap, so screw her. Thankfully, her dad (William Devane) was a tough nut.

Dead end plotlines and logic gaffes.
There were plenty in this season and they should be noted. For me, the most glaring was the abandoned McLennen-Forester thread. This shadowy corporation designed the nuclear override and in an attempt to clear its records detonated a pulse bomb and set a bunch of armed guards out to kill Jack. This all leads to a great shootout, including a feel-good moment when a few Middle Eastern shop-owners open fire along with Jack, but after that episode, this whole storyline is dropped. In fact, I can't even remember what came out of that whole brouhaha. And of the big reality-stretches, the attack on Air Force One looms largest. It was a great set-piece and the fact they allowed the President to get shot down was ballsy, but the subsequent plot where Marwan and his associates find the nuclear launch codes in the wreckage—a risky venture on which the climactic terrorist attack hinges—is a little too brow-furrowing. Talk about a fortuitous plane crash that would make the launch codes so easily available. There's more, sure, but these are the big ones as far as I'm concerned.

The Kick-Ass

Tony's entrance.
In what is one of the most iconic moments in the entire series, Jack and Audrey, overpowered and outgunned by marauding terrorists are bailed out by an old friend at the last minute. How many message boards must have crashed when, after Jack tells Audrey he's going to call the "only person he can trust," and a few minutes later Tony Almeida comes in blasting.

Tony's possible exit?!?
In a brilliant ploy by the writers, they set up Tony to be wasted by the nefarious assassin, Mandy, then turn the scenario on its head. All the signs are there: Tony and Michelle agree to get back together, Jack says he needs Tony with him on one more dangerous mission, Michelle looks longingly at her man telling him to come back safe…no one on 24 lives happily ever after, so you know Tony was going to come back to CTU with a toe-tag. But in a reverse-twist, the dude survives, thanks to some deft maneuvering by Curtis (a kick-ass moment in itself). Well, there's always Season Five for Tony to get hit by a FedEx truck or something…

Jack.
It all begins and ends with Jack Bauer, the hands-down coolest character on television for the past four years. Every moment Kiefer Sutherland is on screen doing his thing, the action pops. And this season finds Jack in prime form. The body count is huge, thanks largely to Jack (and that fantastic sequence where he decimates a terrorist compound single-handedly), the actions he has to take are more dramatic with greater collateral damage, and that final shot of him walking into the sunrise, for all intents and purposes a dead man, is classic.

Fox continues to show why it's currently the best studio releasing television-on-DVD. The previous 24 sets were great, and so is this one. The technical merits are all superb; the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is tight and projects a cinematic feel, which adds to the experience and the 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is active and loud.

As always, a great dose of extras accompany. Each disc sports at least one episode with a cast or crew (or both) commentary, and the producers wisely included crew members with specific roles to comment on aspect of the production. For example, you'll hear from directors, writers, actors, the composer, sound effects guys, and production designers. It's an excellent window into the making of the show.

The seventh disc is devoted entirely to extras:

Season Five prequel
This short bit is likely the most anticipated extra of the bunch. In it we see a really skuzzy-looking Jack Bauer, talking to Chloe, who informs him of some shady chatter she picked up at CTU. Suddenly, Bauer is under attack and thrust into a prolonged car chase. It's a decent bit of action, but feels a lot like a Toyota commercial.

Deleted scenes
Thirty-nine in all, complete with optional commentary by director John Cassar. The highlight: Behrooz's previously unseen fate.

Three behind-the-scenes featurettes
"Breaking Ground: Building the New CTU" focuses on the vast production design that went into the new CTU set, "Blood on the Tracks" documents the execution of the season-opening train collision, and "Lock and Load" spotlights the Marines' participation in pulling off the terrorist hideout siege. All three are robust and typical of the excellent quality these series documentaries maintain.

"24 Conspiracy"
This was a cell phone-based marketing tool the producers used to build up publicity for Season Four. There are 24 episodes, all taking place in real time, each lasting one minute long. Truthfully, it's pretty cheesy, bordering on parody.

Trailers, a music video, and a "Making the Scene" episode chronicling the production of the prequel cap the offering.

Closing Statement

Yes, this season is saddled with its share of reality-stretching plotlines, but if that's price for 24 episodes of top-notch action, I pay it gladly. Bauer has never been as brutal, the villain is one of the best, and Kim Bauer and her penchant for being kidnapped and/or stalked by wildlife is nowhere to be found. A hugely entertaining season and a top-shelf DVD presentation.

The Verdict

Not guilty, dammit!

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 95
Acting: 95
Story: 90
Judgment: 92

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 1052 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Drama
• Television
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Cast and Crew Commentary
• Season Five Prequel
• Making the Scene
• "Lock and Load"
• "Blood on the Tracks"
• "Breaking Ground: Building the New CTU"
• 39 Deleted Scenes
• "24: Conspiracy"
• Music Video
• Trailers








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