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Reviewed by Jason Zingale
After successfully stopping an assassination attempt on African-American presidential candidate David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), a former agent of the Counter-Terrorist Unit (CTU), has called it quits after failing to save his wife’s life at the end of the first season while also losing a relationship with his daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) in the process. Season two begins with a terrorist threat called in to CTU’s Los Angeles-based headquarters regarding a nuclear weapon that will be detonated sometime within the show’s allotted 24 hours.
Desperately in need of an agent capable of tracking down the terrorist group, newly elected President Palmer calls on Jack to help him with the situation, re-enlisting him into CTU where he finds George Mason (Xander Berkley) running the show with Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) still second in command. New to the show is Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth), also a CTU agent who fits into the story as a possible love interest for Tony.
Alongside the major storyline run three other subplots that naturally intertwine with the terrorist threat. Kim, who now works as a nanny for a seemingly normal couple, suddenly finds herself in trouble with the young girl’s psychotic father after witnessing familial abuse. While Kate Warner (Sarah Wynter) helps plan her younger sister’s wedding, she begins to suspect that the husband-to-be, an Arabic man who works for her father’s company, may be involved with the same terrorist group. Finally, as the President examines possible international organizations behind the bomb threat, he begins to suspect trouble within his cabinet, an event that causes the return of his now ex-wife Sherry (Penny Jerald Johnson).
The first season of “24” was simply groundbreaking, introducing innovative ways to present a story while also flashing real-life problems onto our television screens every week. The second season delivers no less, creating a more stimulating plot that introduces the audience to new characters as well as reviving the infamous villain from Jack’s first 24-hour day of hell. This seven-disc DVD release is even more exciting when compared to its horribly disappointing first-season release. The video presentation for the show is displayed in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen format with a brilliant, crisp picture and a giant 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track, maintaining the show’s cinematic feel with big sound and a perfect film transfer, also featuring both English and Spanish subtitles.
Probably the biggest difference between the two seasons is the addition of six audio commentaries, one per disc, by various cast and crew including Kiefer Sutherland, Carlos Bernard and producer/director Jon Cassar. The commentaries are very insightful and don’t only include background information and notes to the various episodes and actors, but also support plenty of joking between the cast and crew as they recall the production of each episode.
The seventh disc in the set harbors all extras, beginning with 44 deleted/extended scenes. All 44 of the scenes can be viewed either on the bonus disc with optional audio commentary or can be accessed on the prior six discs as they occur throughout each specific episode (a small “24” logo appears signifying a new scene.) Most of these scenes are alternate takes of their originals and the deleted scenes with no real significance to the path of the story have been justly removed.
The other extras on the disc include three production featurettes and one multi-angle scene study of an interrogation in episode six between Jack and Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke), giving the viewer the option to watch the filming of the scene through the eyes of camera A, B, or both cameras displayed side-by-side. This feature may not be as exciting to fans of the show as it is for students of film and television interested in the methods of shooting a scene with multiple cameras.
“On the Button: Exploding CTU” is exactly what the title says it is. This extensive feature explains and exposes how the destruction of the CTU building was prepped and filmed with stunt coordinator Eddy Danco and the SFX coordinator Stan Blackwell. Each tech guy talks about the construction and choreography of the scene as the aired version plays at the bottom of the screen.
“24 Exposed: Part One” is a 45-minute highlight of the show’s pre-production. Hosted by the film’s producers and co-creators, the first part includes footage of script meetings and location scouting that represents a key component to the show’s authenticity while also explaining the show’s technical methods of lighting vs. time, costuming, props and directing. The feature’s counterpart, “24 Exposed: Part Two,” also has a fairly long runtime (40 min) and presents the fight choreography training with Sutherland and the filming of the same climatic shootout at the season’s end. Both parts feature loads of information and provide a highly detailed look into the making of “24.”
While the first season of “24” still has its place in TV history, season two is so much better, again sacrificing political correctness for intense action and drama. The season-two DVD release is a huge improvement over its predecessor, adding plenty of in-depth extras to atone for its forerunning six-disc set as well as creating an equally suspenseful story that adds even more intrigue to each week’s cliffhanger ending. Fortunately, this set allows you to watch all the episodes at once. No more excuses -- go buy this now.