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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 9/11/03

24: The Complete Second Season
2002-2003 (2003) - Imagine (20th Century Fox)

review by Todd Doogan and Bill Hunt of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

24: The Complete Second Season Program Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B+/A-

Specs and Features
Approx. 1064 mins (24 episodes at 44 mins each), NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.78:1), 16x9 enhanced, custom gatefold packaging, 7 single-sided, dual-layered discs (4 episodes per disc, plus bonus material on Disc Seven), audio commentary on for 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM by Carlos Bernard, Sarah Wynter and Michelle Forbes, audio commentary on 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM by Jon Cassar and Sarah Clarke, audio commentary on 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM by Penny Johnson Jerald and Joel Surnow, audio commentary on 10:00 PM - 11:00 PM by Robert Cochran and Xander Berkeley, audio commentary on 3:00 AM - 4:00 AM by Kiefer Sutherland and Joel Surnow, audio commentary on 4:00 AM - 5:00 AM by Dennis Haysbert and Howard Gordon, 44 deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by Jon Cassar, Rodney Charters and Howard Gordon (16x9, DD 2.1 - available on both episode discs and Disc Seven), On the Button: Exploding the CTU featurette (13 mins, 4x3, DD 2.0), 24 Exposed - Part 1 production documentary (45 mins, 16x9, DD 2.1), 24 Exposed - Part 2 post-production documentary (42 mins, 16x9, DD 2.1), program-themed menu screens with music, episode access, languages: English (DD 5.1) and Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

The Jack Bauer Power Hour is back on DVD where it belongs! If you missed a few episodes on Fox during the initial run, and didn't realize FX was replaying the show over Labor Day weekend, well never fear... because Fox DVD is here to lend you a hand. 24 has consistently thrilled The Bits since its initial broadcast two years ago. We had some reservations about a new season, but season two quashed any hesitation right from the first episode and didn't stop for even a minute. Was it believable? Not really. But that isn't the point. The point is Jack has a death wish, but neither Death, God nor the Devil seems to want him. And that's good for us, because we get a Season Three to look forward to in a few months.

So where to begin? How about the first episode: It's eighteen months later. At 8 AM Pacific Standard, a Korean man is being tortured for information. He gives what he has and a dash is made to inform an American military officer, "Today" and a call is made to the NSA. Meanwhile, President Palmer is quietly fishing with his son in Oregon when the Secret Service shows up and whisks him away to a secure location. We still don't know what is going on. Next, we see that Kim Bauer is the live-in nanny for nine-year-old Megan Matheson. Megan's father, Gary, is immediately shown to be a creep, but how deep his creepitude goes, we will soon find out. CTU is up and running with a few new staffers. Mason's now in charge and Tony shaved the soul patch. It's about now that we find out what's going on: Mamud Rashed Faheen, an international terrorist long thought dead, has resurfaced with a nuclear bomb... and both are in Los Angeles. The President wants Jack Bauer involved, but as we soon see, Jack is unshaved, suicidal, and wants nothing to do with CTU... that is, until he finds out about the bomb and realizes that Kim's life is in danger. His condition: he'll stop the bomb, but he wants Kim sent to a safe location.

As the hours unspool, we see Jack willing to do anything to save the city, including killing criminals with his bare hands, crashing planes in various locales and dying. We find the President in a situation he can't get out of on his own, his ex-wife pulling a Lady Macbeth on crack and Kim in situations with many, many, many stupid men and wild animals. And it's all good.

24 is a soap opera for action movie junkies. It doesn't stop, and the twist and turns are worthy of any afternoon drama. That doesn't mean it's bad, it just means it's fun. Don't go in thinking that you're getting a believable show, because you're not. The show is still set up with every episode equaling about and hour of real time, but this time, the producers don't try and make it flow as if it were exactly real time. The first bad thing about the show this season is that Jack often finds himself in situations that would deeply prohibit him moving on to the next hour. Things like car accidents, plane crashes, stabbings, gun wounds and heart attacks. This guy is better than the Energizer Bunny. The other bad thing is that too much attention is paid to Kim. We love her as much (maybe even more) as the next guy. But seriously, her storylines just eat time. Hopefully her inclusion in the CTU staff next season will have more of a pay-off.

In any case, 24 upped the ante in a big way in season two, and even with the minor issues mentioned above, the show is just too good to give up on. Kiefer rocks, and the rest of the cast is so well chosen, that we hope they all come back (even the ones that died). The fact that naked Mandy alone comes back in a huge way just cements that this show is for the fans and the creators are listening to us. So to them we say, "Keep up the good work!"

On DVD, the video quality is very good and is absolutely on par with the Season One set. All of the episodes are all presented in anamorphic widescreen, which is definitely the way this show is meant to be seen. 24 is a very cinematic series. You'll be glad you have a widescreen TV with these discs - trust us on this. Colors this season are a little more muted, but they're also smooth and accurate. Contrast is solid and there's good shadow detailing. There's light grain visible but artifacting and edge enhancement are rarely noticeable, much less an issue. Once again, these episodes look way better on DVD than they did even in the original broadcasts.

The sound for Season Two on DVD has been given a leg up. This time around, we get the episodes in full Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. It marks an improvement over the Dolby 2.0 Surround on the first season DVDs, but not as much as you might expect. Only occasionally do the rear channels really kick in with dynamic or atmospheric fill. It doesn't matter through - dialogue is clear and clean and the tracks are very serviceable in terms of supporting the on-screen images. The audio is better than you experienced it on TV, and that's more than good enough.

The bonus material is where these DVDs really shine. For this second season of the series, Fox has pulled out all the stops in terms of the extras. With the help of the series' cast and crew, we're presented with a fantastic volume of bonus material. Each of the first six discs in this series has full-length audio commentary for one episode. The commentaries feature a variety of different production people - a different grouping for each episode. Among those that participate are several of the show's producers, writers and directors, and most of the major lead actors, including Kiefer Sutherland (Jack), Sarah Wynter (Kate), Carlos Bernard (Tony), Michelle Forbes (Lynne), Sarah Clarke (Nina), Penny Johnson Jerald (Sherry), Xander Berkeley (George) and Dennis Haysbert (the President). Rarely do you get so many of the main cast members participating in audio commentaries on DVD, so this is a real coup. Each brings their own unique perspectives on the story and their characters to the table. Some are better than others, but on the whole, the tracks are fun listening. Next up, you get no less than 44 deleted scenes, presented in anamorphic widescreen video, with optional audio commentary by the show's creators. There are scenes from most, if not all, of the episodes in the season. They're presented on the various episode discs and all 44 are again available on Disc Seven.

That's just for starters. You also get a pair of 40+ minute behind-the-scenes documentaries (24 Exposed - Parts 1 & 2) that look at the production and post-production of the final two episodes of the season, again in anamorphic widescreen. You're there at every meeting, you're there during location scouting and rehearsals, you're on the set, in the edit room - you name it. And at every turn, you're treated to interviews with many of those involved. This is a real treat. Finally, you get a 13-minute featurette look at the special effects involved in destroying the CTU building (in 4x3), and a multi-angle dissection of the scene where Jack questions Nina (with 3 angles, in 16x9). How's that for enough extras to keep you busy for a while?

It really doesn't get any better than this. Not only do you get a great season of nail-biting fun on DVD with 24: The Complete Second Season, Fox proves once again that no one does TV on DVD better than they do. We dare you to sit down with this box set and watch just one episode. We dare you.

Todd Doogan

Bill Hunt

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