Sunday, February 24, 2013

TV on DVD Review: 24 - Season 4

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: More edge of your seat excitement
Cons: A few predictable cliffhangers; a little lack of focus.
The Bottom Line:
Repetition shows
But still heart stopping suspense
You won't stop watching

Tick - Fourth Heart Stopping Season - Tock

Season four of suspense drama 24 keeps the plot points coming and the suspense building once again.

In the aftermath of season 3, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) was fired from CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit) Los Angeles. But, always a resourceful guy, he lands on his feet with a job working for Secretary of Defense James Heller (William Devane). In the year and a half away from CTU, true love may have finally come his way again as he builds a relationship with the boss's daughter, Audrey (Kim Raver).

All this comes crashing down as a cell of terrorists once again begin to carry out attacks on the US. It starts with the kidnapping of James and Audrey, but that's only the start of a series of attacks planned by mastermind Habib Marvan (Arnold Vosloo). As each crisis begins, the staff at CTU must find a way to deal with it all the while searching for Habib to end the constant attacks.

Viewers of the show were shocked to learn that many of the regulars from past years hadn't been asked to return for season 4. While disappointing, it was probably a wise move because they were running out of storylines for these characters. While Jack's daughter never did show up this season, they did bring back Tony (Carlos Bernard), Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth) and former President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) in credible ways that added to the story.

Once again, the story reigns supreme with edge of your seat suspense from episode one until the end. I didn't feel this season was quite as strong as the last one. The multiple attacks made for a more fragmented feel for me. Also, several of their plot complications are a little too familiar by now, making this season's cliffhangers some of the most predictable to date. Still, these are minor squabbles in the grand scheme of things. The pacing is sharp and the story line never gets too far off track. And there are several surprising twists along the way. I particularly enjoyed one involving CTU computer agent Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub). Speaking of whom, she really grew on me this season. While there are still times I love to hate her, I understand her more.

Which brings up an important point. While plot is supreme on this show, characters are important as well. By spending a very stressful day with these people, we do get to know, understand, and like them. This point was really driven home to me near the end of the season when Tony and Michelle faced a crisis and I was so wrapped up in what would happen to them, I was actually more concerned with them then the millions of others in danger.

The contents of this seven disc set will come as no surprise to the fans that have been buying these all along. The 24 episodes are presented in wide screen and full surround on the first six discs. Each disc includes one commentary track and deleted scenes from the episodes. Disc seven is where most of the bonus features are. All the deleted scenes are presented again with optional commentary. There are previews for season 5 as well as the new 24 video game. Featurettes this go around include a look at creating the new set for CTU, a look at filming a car chase as well as the train explosion, and a look at the military expertise used to make CTU feel real.

While not my favorite season, this show is still at the top of its game and showing no signs of slowing down. Because each season is its own story, new viewers could come in here without being too lost, although returning character's story lines won't mean as much. Faithful fans will find much to love and little to complain about in season four of 24.

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