(Note: As with prior "24" reviews, I will attempt to spoil as little as possible for those who waited for the DVD in order to see or complete their viewing of the season.)
It just never seems to stop for federal agent Jack Bauer. First, he managed to save candidate David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) from assassination. It wasn't over. Soon after, Jack was called to prevent the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. A few years later, Bauer was once again in Los Angeles to stop the release of a deadly virus.
The fourth season also dealt with terrorism, but the plot kept twisting, revealing a new crisis for Bauer to handle each time. It's wasn't a flawless season or the show's best outing, but I still think it was another strong effort from everyone involved. As season 5 opened, a character who has been at the core of the series is dispatched in shocking fashion (and they wouldn't be the last one to go as the season progressed), bringing Jack - who had been in hiding (not to give away any further details about the close of season 4) - back out into the open.
Soon after the opening, Jack finds out that he has been framed for murder, forcing him to go on the run to clear his name, while also trying to stop Russian terrorists from starting a nerve gas attack on Los Angeles. As Bauer pushes further in his attempt to try and stop the attack, he finds out that high-ranking members of the government are involved. Returning are, among others, fan favorite Chloe O'Brien (Mary Lynn Rajskub), Tony Almeda (Carlos Bernard), President Logan (Gregory Itzin) and Audrey Raines (Kim Raver).
The fifth season of "24" continued the elements of the show that has made it popular. Successfully boasting a real-time format, the show links crisis-to-crisis in a way that often makes the nearly hour-long program rip forward with remarkable tension and urgency. As always, "24" takes some serious leaps of logic, but the show's plot holes don't seem quite so apparent this time and the flow of the show remains smooth throughout the season. As is often the case for "24", I felt that the performances (Sutherland continues to succeed in what is certainly one of the best roles of his career; operating with a remarkably consistent level of intensity, Sutherland makes Bauer riveting to watch) and pacing of the series were able to get past most moments that were a bit much.
The sixth season of the series has Jack being released from his Chinese imprisonment that occured at the end of the fifth season. A wave of terrorist attacks have hit the US, and Bauer's freedom has been negotiated in order to turn him over to terrorist Abu Fayed (Adoni Maropis), who has been behind the attacks and wants Bauer delivered to him. Jack manages to break free after finding out important information, and quickly realizes that - once again - he is the only one that can stop the horrors of yet another dark day.
Yet, this time, it's a different Jack Bauer - weary, tired and physically and emotionally scarred. Early on - after Jack is forced to make a terrible decision that takes the life of a long-time character - he even says "I can't do this. I can't do this anymore." Yet, after a devastating attack by the terrorists, Jack realizes that an already dark day has turned into an unthinkable nightmare, and he must push forward in order to save the day.
The season also throws Jack's father (James Cromwell) into the mix as one of the figures behind the terrible events of the day. There's also a new President - this time it's the not-particularly-interesting Wayne Palmer (DB Woodside), who takes over for the departed - and quite evil - President Logan (Gregory Itzin) and his unbalanced wife, Martha (Jean Smart, who, along with Itzin, was one of the reasons why the fifth season worked as well as it did.) The Logans return briefly this season, but little is made of their appearance.
The sixth season has stretches of tension and thrills, but the season also proved that elements of the "24" formula have grown tired, such as the fact that the CTU office does not seem to have learned from the past regarding tighter security. There's also always those in the higher ranks of government that don't want to listen to Bauer, despite the fact that, oh, he's saved the country a bunch of times. The element of having Bauer's own father being a bad guy could also have been a great deal more interesting than it is, as Cromwell - surprisingly - doesn't fit well as a bad guy and the character's plotline is contrived and uninspired.
The other problem that the series faces is that many of the characters that the fans have loved over the years (and loved to hate - speaking of, whatever happened to Mandy, the villainess played by Mia Kirshner?) - have been replaced by lesser actors whose characters quickly fade into the background. Even some returning favorites - like Chloe O'Brien and CTU head Bill Buchanan (James Morrison) - aren't given as much to do this time around. It's not that "24" can't have new characters - it's
There are a series of television shows that work better on DVD than on television, and "24" is one of them. While commericals are understandably necessary and "24" does work well on TV, the show's flow is still interrupted by ads when broadcast. On DVD, the show's rapid pacing is never broken, and the series, in my opinion, plays better.
Season 6 is not the nail-biter that the prior seasons have been, and yet, Sutherland still provides a solid lead performance and there are stretches where the series starts to get rolling. The seventh season of the series has been delayed indefinitely due to the writer's strike, but hopefully, this will give the writers more time to try and take the series in a completely new direction.
The set includes the entire sixth season.
VIDEO: "24: Season 6" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Unfortunately, the screening copy of the show that was offered just average image quality, with some mild artifacting and adequate sharpness and detail. However, this is still not the final copy and unfortunately, I cannot make any final comments on it, as the final copy will likely offer differing (and hopefully better) image quality.
SOUND: "24" is presented by Fox in Dolby Digital 5.1. The show's soundtrack is mainly dialogue-driven and somewhat front-heavy, but surrounds do kick in for some action sequences and to provide some reinforcement for the show's well-done score. Audio quality was excellent, with crisp and clear dialogue, well-recorded effects and a dynamic, full-sounding score.
EXTRAS: A promo for season 7 (which includes no new footage) is included on the final disc, as are about 30 minutes of deleted and extended scenes (with optional commentary), one of which is a slight different final scene. "Master Illusionist: 24's Special Effects Make-up" is an interesting look at the process of applying and designing the FX make-up needed in many scenes of the show. "Inside the Writer's Room" joins a group of the writers together in their break room in order to chat about the struggles of trying to come up with storylines for the show. "Opening With a Bang" is a look at the process of putting together the opening scene of the season, which includes looks at multiple camera angles of the scene.
We also get a cameo scene by UK "Office" star/creator Ricky Gervais, 21 "webisode" short featurettes, 5 24 Mobisodes: 'Day Six Debrief'", a global warming PSA from Sutherland, an 8-minute "Technology of 24" featurette, DVD-ROM features and a promo for "Prison Break: Season 2".
We also get commentaries:
6:00AM - 7:00AM Commentary by Executive Producers Howard Gordon and Kiefer Sutherland
7:00AM - 8:00AM Commentary by Co-Executive Producer Manny Coto and Adoni Maropis
12:00PM-1:00PM Commentary by Executive Producer/Director Jon Cassar and Production Designer Joseph Hodges
1:00PM - 2:00PM Commentary by Executive Producer Evan Katz and Carlo Rota
2:00PM - 3:00PM Commentary by Editor Scott Powell and Eric Balfour
5:00PM - 6:00PM Commentary by Jayne Atkinson and Powers Boothe
6:00PM - 7:00PM Commentary by Greg Itzin and Jean Smart
7:00PM - 8:00PM Commentary by James Morrison and Marisol Nichols
10:00PM - 11:00PM
Commentary by Co-Executive Producer David Fury and Director Bryan Spicer
Commentary by Composer Sean Callery and Adoni Maropis
11:00PM - 12:00AMCommentary by Story Editor Matt Michnovetz and Staff Writer Nicole Ranadive
12:00AM - 1:00AM Commentary by Mary Lynn Rajskub and Co-Creator/Executive Producer Joel Surnow
Final Thoughts: The 6th season of "24" is the show's weakest (although not by leaps and bounds), but Sutherland's performance still remains impressive and, despite an uneven season, the series still has its moments throughout these episodes. Recommended for fans.