Judge David Johnson broke into CTU once on a dare. It was actually pretty easy.
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 Four (published January 9th, 2006), 24: Season Five (published January 1st, 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.
"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.
Facts of the Case
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:
Worst. President. Ever.
Sandra and Walid
Characters Nobody Cares About
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?
The Rebuttal Witnesses
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.
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Scales of Justice
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