This is the longest day of Judge Gordon Sullivan's life.
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 6 (published December 4th, 2007), 24: Season Seven (published June 1st, 2009), and 24: Season Eight (Blu-Ray) (published December 29th, 2010) are also available.
A New Day. A New Beginning. A New Bauer.
I feel like I'm one of the few people who actually enjoyed the sixth season of 24. Sure it took everything interesting and/or scary from the previous five seasons and rolled it up into one giant ball of Bauer-y angst, but it set the stage perfectly for a make-it or break-it seventh season. After catching up with 24: Season 7 (Blu-ray), I think the show has made it and this solid Blu-ray set will get fans who missed the original airings ready for the next season in style.
Facts of the Case
After the events of 24: Redemption, Jack Bauer has been called to stand before a Senate committee in Washington, D.C. to answer for his use of force on suspects. It's obviously an attempt to make Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) a scapegoat for C.T.U. and all of its tactics, but he seems to have accepted his fate. All that changes when the FBI subpoenas Jack to help with an ongoing crisis: someone has taken control of a device that allows them access to the entire infrastructure of the United States, meaning this group controls air traffic, water treatment, and power plants, among others. Jack is called in because the FBI believes his old friend Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) has risen from the grave and seems to be involved with the device.
24 is one of the few shows I bother to watch that I wouldn't call myself a fan of. I have zero emotional investment in whether the series continues, so when Season Six cashed in all its chips with the nuclear explosion bit and Jack's family saga, I was ready to write the show off. Redemption got my hopes up a little (not least because the creators keep casting kick-ass actors like Robert Carlyle and Tony Todd), and from episode one, Season Seven had me in its grip. Usually I do other things while the episodes play in the background, but for this season I was front and center from the violent opening scene onward.
Season Six played like a team emptying its bag of tricks, and for Season Seven the writers have rolled out new skills and everything seems to gel. The first new trick is a change of locale. Our seventh day with Jack Bauer takes place in Washington, D.C., and that frees the show up tremendously. Now we get to forego all those "are you sure you want to go back to California, Mr. President" conversations, and having the action take place in the capital ups the emotional ante significantly. The new location also keeps the action moving faster because everything is so close together in contrast to L.A.'s sprawling megalopolis (that and the writers conveniently forget traffic as much as, if not more than, they have previously). Also, being closer to the centers of power only highlights how not by-the-book Bauer can be, which increases tension throughout the show.
Bauer's tactics are a greater focus of this season, to good effect. Before I started watching 24 I'd heard so much about how the show dealt with the moral gray area of torture, but once I saw the first six seasons, I was unimpressed. The show stayed with Jack's point of view so relentlessly that there wasn't much room to question his actions (with the possible exception of Jack's treatment of Paul Raines in Season Four). Many criticized this position, and Season Seven takes those points to heart. In this season the audience has more characters to identify with, and many of them are against Bauer's tactics. This brings a complexity to the show that was absent previously.
The crowd from previous seasons (Jack, Tony, Chloe, and Bill) are their same excellent selves, and most of the new people are well-done. The most impressive is President Taylor, the first female president in the history of the United States. It could have been a simple P.R. gimmick, but the writers make her a capable, credible figure whose only rival as president would be David Palmer. Jack's foil for the season, FBI Agent Renee Walker is a little too holier-than-thou, but Annie Wersching plays her well. Although I don't think she was given much to work with, I enjoyed Janeane Garofalo as an FBI technician, and I didn't find any character totally annoying, which isn't always the case with 24).
Fox got this set out the door very soon after the season ended, and the discs themselves are uniformly excellent. Minus a few random bits of noise in every episode, the widescreen video transfers are great to watch with loads of texture and detail. The audio track is even more impressive, with effective balance and a booming low end.
For extras we get three decent featurettes covering the music, the making-of, and Episode 19, in addition to some deleted scenes. Commentaries are also available on selected episodes, although they're only intermittently interesting. My biggest complaint with the extras is that I wanted to know more, which isn't surprising.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
As with any season of 24, reality and common sense have to be checked at the door. Pretty much every single bit of technical jargon mentioned in the show is bunk, the injuries sustained are almost impossible to endure in twenty-four hours, and pretty much every person on the show would probably locked up for even a tenth of what they do each episode. If you can't get on board with the gimmick, then this season isn't going to make it any better.
The season could probably have come to a better close, which is a common problem for the show. This time out things peak a little too early, which lessens the impact of the finale a bit.
I'm also less than impressed with the packaging of this set. All six discs are crammed into a double-wide Blu-ray case, and one of the inner trays had already fallen out by the time it go to me.
24: Season 7 is an obvious improvement over Season 6, even if it doesn't reach the heights of Season 5. The change in locale and all the fresh faces inject some new blood into the show, even as the more solid members of the old cast return to anchor the story. This Blu-ray set is a no-brainer for HD-capable fans of the show, with solid tech specs and informative extras. For those who abandoned ship after the previous season, this is worth a rental because of all the changes.
Although it's still not as consistently entertaining as it could be, 24: Season 7 is not guilty.
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