The Complete First Season
(2002) - Imagine (20th Century Fox)
by Todd Doogan and Bill Hunt of The Digital
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
Approx. 999 mins (24 episodes at 41 mins each), NR, letterboxed
widescreen (1.78:1), 16x9 enhanced, custom gatefold packaging, 6
single-sided, dual-layered discs (4 episodes per disc), alternate
ending to final episode with optional audio commentary (by executive
producer Joel Surnow), video introduction with actor Kiefer
Sutherland, program-themed menu screens with music, episode access,
languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed
is a great concept and we can't believe someone hasn't tried to pull
it off before now. A man on a mission has 24 hours to prevent
something bad from happening... something that can utterly change
the world as he now knows it. At every step, something or someone
stands in his way. Oh... and to make it all the more interesting,
the story is told in "real time" over the course of 24,
1-hour television episodes. Brilliant. But can it work logistically?
Yes and no.
24, as it is, is full of plot
holes you can drive a truck through. It's got major logic jumps,
hackneyed story lines and even a few real world math problems,
like... how the hell does a guy get through LA traffic in 10 seconds
without a helicopter? But you know what? The whole thing works
because it so friggin' fun. Kiefer simply IS Jack Bauer, and we
loved his character from the minute we first saw him on the screen.
Believe me, we didn't think he could do it - be the tough guy we
actually route for. But after the mid-way point in the show, he's in
your hearts and you want him to win.
Now... half the fun of the show lies in going into it without
knowing anything. So if you don't know the show, and you haven't
seen it yet, good. Watch the DVD. If you did watch the show, then
regurgitating the story for you won't do a lick of good. You either
loved it or hated it. But here's a summary of JUST the first episode
so you can get an idea of what 24
is all about.
It's midnight on the day of the California Presidential Primary and
Jack Bauer, head of the government's counter-terrorism unit (CTU)
based in LA, is called in to investigate the possibility that
Senator David Palmer, the first African-American with a shot at
being elected President, is the target of an assassination plot.
Meanwhile, Jack's teenaged daughter Kimberly sneaks out of the house
with her friend Janet for a date with two young guys. When Teri
(Jack's wife) calls and lets him know that Kim's gone, he tells her
not to worry. We then establish Jack's team at CTU: Nina (his
right-hand "man"), Jamey (the computer geek) and Tony (aka
Soul Patch Tony, the shifty-eyed bad boy who may or may not be up to
something). We also meet George Mason, a co-worker who has it in for
Jack because of a past situation involving dirty agents that Jack
turned in. Jack doesn't trust Mason, because he's been tipped that
the assassination plot might involve someone working on the inside
at CTU. Meanwhile, at his campaign headquarters, Senator Palmer gets
a mysterious phone call from a reporter who claims to know something
dangerous about his son's past. Back at Jack's house, Teri's hooked
up with Janet's father to go looking for the missing girls... a plan
which soon leads them to believe that the girls are in trouble. And
high above, in a plane bound for California, Mandy (aka Naked Mandy)
joins the mile high club with a photographer named Martin, in hopes
of getting his credentials to access a press conference that Palmer
is expected to attend later in the day. All of this ends with an
explosion high over the Mojave Desert. And where all these events
might be going is anyone's guess.
No doubt about it. The 24
sounds cool... and it is. Directed by Stephen Hopkins, the first
episode is one of the best. When watching this series during its
broadcast run, each episode kept you hanging on pins and needles for
the next Tuesday to come around, so you could tune in to the further
adventures of Jack and company to see what happened next.
Thankfully, now you can watch 24
at home without the wait.
On DVD, this video quality is quite good. First of all, the
episodes are all presented in anamorphic widescreen - this show was
DEFINITELY meant to be seen in widescreen. Viewing it that way makes
the experience seem like a continuous, 24-hour long film that you
just can't stop watching. Colors are rich and accurate, with
excellent contrast and shadow detailing. The look of the series is
dark, ominous and moody, reminding us in many ways of The
X-Files, and the DVDs capture this look perfectly. There
is a certain graininess to the episodes by design, and this is
noticeable on the video. You will also see a certain amount of
MPEG-2 compression artifacting, particularly in overly-bright or
washed out areas of the picture. But none of this is distracting in
any way. Fans who watched the original broadcasts will experience
video on these DVDs that is far and away superior to what they
The audio on these discs is also good, but not outstanding. English
only audio is presented here in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, and the
track generally services the video and the story well. Dialogue is
always intelligible, and the series' tension-ratcheting musical
score is well presented without overwhelming the action. The rear
channels provide some light ambience and fill, but don't expect much
in the way of true surround play beyond this.
The extras are disappointing, in that all you get is an alternate
ending to the final episode of the season (with optional audio
commentary by the show's executive producer) and a video
introduction of the first season by star Kiefer Sutherland.
Sutherland also briefly hints at what's to come in season two (all
without spoiling anything for either season). As far as the
alternate ending, it goes without saying that you shouldn't watch
this until after you've seen all the episodes. And we think you'll
agree that the ending that WAS used is much more dramatic and
Naturally, we would have liked more in the extras department, but
the lack of them was necessitated by the quick release of the season
to DVD, just a scant few months after its original Fox network run.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has already let it be known that
future seasons will feature much more extensive bonus material (and
yes, future seasons will be released quickly after they are
broadcast). We'd like to suggest that someone go back and produce a
retrospective documentary on season one to include with the next
All in all, 24 isn't perfect
- it's not the best dramatic television you'll ever see. But it IS
original, wild, fun and very, very cool. We highly recommend it...
and this new DVD release is absolutely the perfect way to enjoy it.