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24: SEASON EIGHT

All good things come to an end, and after eight seasons, 24 has ended its run on network television. At the height of its popularity, 24 was something of a cultural phenomenon and a hot topic of water cooler chat. Of course, having been on the air for eight seasons, the bloom was definitely off the rose in later years… as the freshness of 24 gave way to familiarity, which allowed audiences to begin to guess some of the twists and turns that the writers would devise in the final seasons. Despite the familiarity, 24 never failed to entertain. Across all eight seasons, the series remained an intense, top of the line television drama, which had class and production values to spare. A best of breed, 24 will remain a yardstick for future television spy/espionage dramas to be measured against. Of course, what makes 24 one of the most memorable television series of all time, is the fact that it takes place in real time, with each twenty-four-episode season comprising the events of a single day. As such, each episode of 24 represents a single hour of that day… and each season turns out to be one heck of a busy day.

As I have stated in the past, each season of 24 is approached without much foreknowledge, therefore for the purpose of this review, all descriptions of plots and storylines will be kept as generic as possible. For those completely unfamiliar with 24, the basic premise involves a clandestine government agency known as the Counter Terrorist Unit, which exists to safeguard the United States against impending terrorist threats. Kiefer Sutherland stars in 24 as CTU agent Jack Bauer, who is always in the thick of it and demonstrates an unswerving willingness to do whatever it will take to get the job done. Season eight of 24 is set in New York City during a peace conference between the United States President and the leader of the Islamic Republic of Kamistan. As we first encounter Jack, he is on the verge of quietly retiring to Los Angeles to be near his family, when an informant provides him with intel on a planned assassination of the Kamistan President. Soon Jack is knee deep in terrorists, assassins, Russian mobsters, uranium rods, politicians and moles. The season eight cast of 24 includes, but is not limited to Mary Lynn Rajskub, Anil Kapoor, Annie Wersching, Mykelti Williamson, Katee Sackhoff, Chris Diamantopoulos, John Boyd, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Cherry Jones, Nazneen Contractor, Necar Zadegan, TJ Ramini, Mido Hamada, Bob Gunton, Clayne Crawford, Frank John Hughes, Reed Diamond, Akbar Kurtha, Graham McTavish, Jennifer Westfeldt, Jürgen Prochnow, David Anders, Michael Filipowich, Michael Madsen, Gregory Itzin and Elisha Cuthbert.

24: SEASON EIGHT ($70) comes to Blu-ray in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-four episodes that were aired during year eight: Day 8: 4:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M., Day 8: 5:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M., Day 8: 6:00 P.M. - 7:00 P.M., Day 8: 7:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M., Day 8: 8:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M., Day 8: 9:00 P.M. - 10:00 P.M., Day 8: 10:00 P.M. - 11:00 P.M., Day 8: 11:00 P.M. - 12:00 A.M., Day 8: 12:00 A.M. - 1:00 A.M., Day 8: 1:00 A.M. - 2:00 A.M., Day 8: 2:00 A.M. - 3:00 A.M., Day 8: 3:00 A.M. - 4:00 A.M., Day 8: 4:00 A.M. - 5:00 A.M., Day 8: 5:00 A.M. - 6:00 A.M., Day 8: 6:00 A.M. - 7:00 A.M., Day 8: 7:00 A.M. - 8:00 A.M., Day 8: 8:00 A.M. - 9:00 A.M., Day 8: 9:00 A.M. - 10:00 A.M., Day 8: 10:00 A.M. - 11:00 A.M., Day 8: 11:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M., Day 8: 12:00 P.M. - 1:00 P.M., Day 8: 1:00 P.M. - 2:00 P.M., Day 8: 2:00 P.M. - 3:00 P.M. and Day 8: 3:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M..

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made all twenty-four episodes that comprise 24: SEASON EIGHT available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. 24 is one of the best looking productions to ever grace broadcast television, which is evidence by these terrific 1080p presentations. Because this is a television production and not a theatrical feature, there is some unevenness in the picture, but 24 still impresses. Image sharpness and clarity, as well as fine detail and depth are all quite strong. Some shots are softer than others, but it never detracts from the overall presentations. Colors are cinematically subdued to produce a gritty quality, but generally provide a realistic level of saturation. Contrast has been pushed for dramatic effect and has a tendency to become blown out. Shadow detail is quite strong for a television production. There are no flaws in the source materials. Modest grain/noise is apparent in the image, with darker scenes showing more evidence.

All of the episodes that comprise 24: SEASON EIGHT are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. 24 features sound designs that are far more cinematic than the vast majority of television fare. There is excellent use of all the discrete channels for sound effects placement, plus the effects pan around the sound field effectively. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is very strong, with the sound besting most other television productions. The bass channel is deep and forceful. Dialogue is crisp, clean and totally understandable. No other soundtrack options are present. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode selection and set up features, as well as some extras. Mini-featurettes entitled Scenemakers are offered on 21 of the episodes and each focuses on a particular aspect of an episode’s production. Featurettes and other programs include the following: The Ultimate CTU (thirteen minutes), Chloe's Arrest (four minutes) and Virtually New York (nine minutes). Some Deleted Scenes close out the extra.

24 was and is one of the most successful spy/espionage dramas to ever grace the television airwaves. The Blu-ray presentations are highly impressive for television production. Fans will definitely want to own Jack Bauer’s last hurrah. Recommended.

 
24: SEASON EIGHT 


24: Season Eight - The Complete Final Season [Blu-ray] (2010)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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