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24 - Season 8 [Blu-ray]
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Set in New York City, day eight unfolds amidst the shadows of the Statue of Liberty and the United Nations as President Allison Taylor (Jones), alongside new chief of staff Rob Weiss (Chris Diamantopoulos), negotiates international security with Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor), a determined Middle Eastern leader visiting the US on a peacemaking mission. As the new day begins, an upgraded CTU operates under the command of MBA-schooled, razor-sharp head honcho Brian Hastings (Mykelti Williamson), who supervises quirky Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), expert data analyst Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff) and systems analyst Arlo Glass (John Boyd).
Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze Jr.), an ex-Marine who wants to follow in Bauer's footsteps, leads field operations while Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) returns with an agenda of her own.
One of the most innovative and acclaimed dramas on television, 24 has been nominated for a total of 68 Emmy® awards, winning for Outstanding Drama Series in 2006. Over the course of seven seasons, Sutherland has garnered seven Emmy® nominations and one win for Outstanding Lead Actor; while Season Seven co-star Cherry Jones earned an Emmy® for her highly praised work as President Allison Taylor.
The Ultimate CTU--Design and construction of the most elaborate high-tech CTU yet
Virtually New York--LA as NYC greenscreen
Comic-Con 2009 Panel
Eight Days--A Series Retrospective
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As ever, it is up to Jack Bauer to save the day. With the odds so heavily stacked against, can even he avert catastrophe? Will this final season see the end of him?
Creators confess one or two earlier seasons have been on the fanciful side. This one they ensure has feet more firmly on the ground - the aim a worthy climax for a show that from its very start has set exhilarating new standards. The formula is as before - twenty four episodes each representing an hour, tension increased by a frequently split screen and ever ticking clock. Throughout there are twists that truly stun, a dramatically increasing body count, any key figures who survive almost certainly with lives changed forever.
Some may regret certain aspects. When so much is communicated in barely audible whispers, the incessant music track can be a nuisance. The storyline involving agent Dana Walsh may seem unconvincingly contrived. As for Bauer himself! His resilience continues to amaze - he here astonishingly agile despite a savage beating, sadistic torture, two stabbings and at least one bullet.
Critics so inclined may well pinpoint these and other possible weaknesses. I am amongst the millions who simply brush them aside, content to sit back and enjoy one of the best television shows ever.
Extras include interesting "Scene Makers" about the episodes and an entertaining look back over the previous eight years (eight days actually, when one thinks about it). Understandably emotions are high as filming draws to a close.
Kiefer Sutherland has been superb as Jack Bauer, loyal to a fault but remorseless when betrayed - as indeed he is here, a certain death sending him over the edge, he to become a loose cannon bloodily taking revenge. Another great asset throughout the series has been ever-scowling Chloe, she this time round with much more to do.
Behind the camera and in front, all concerned deserve praise. They have created one of television's most action-packed shows - the resulting box sets truly a binge-watcher's paradise.
Many old allies and old adversaries return, but there are many new faces too: among them are Anil Kapoor from Slumdog Millionaire [Blu-ray], Freddie Prinze Jr from I Know What You Did Last Summer [Blu-ray]  [US Import] (I imagine I'm the only fan of 24 who saw him in Scooby Doo: Live Action Movie [Blu-ray] [Region Free]!) and Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series [Blu-ray][Region Free]'s space-ace Starbuck. the redoubtable Katee Sackhoff.
There's no denying that one or two earlier seasons occasionally went a bit wobbly, but be reassured - the series's final offering is dramatically rock solid. The stunts are still stunning, the twists and turns still startle, the characters still convince and poor old Jack is still put through the emotional wringer. 24 concludes with a reasonable claim to be the most compelling, best crafted thriller ever made for the small screen.
The Blu-rays in this collection give us six episodes per disc in 1080p video and DTS HD Master Audio. I noticed one or two nocturnal scenes where the image was slightly grainy, but these added up to only a few seconds over the season's entire eighteen hours and were nowhere near troubling enough to spoil the edge-of-the-seat excitement. I never regretted paying a few pounds extra for the benefit of high-def over DVD.
This season starts well, has a little blip from about episodes 5-10, then picks up again. As it's 24, of course there's another mole in CTU (this season in New York), there's another nuclear weapon loose on American soil, and there are various shenanigans in the White House.
The acting remains excellent. Seasoned viewers might well anticipate some of the twists but that doesn't hinder the enjoyment: I binge-watched over 2 days and loved it.
In addiction level terms it also deliberately doesn't hook you in straight away but by around episode 10, that's when the rollercoaster starts properly - well worth it, but of course the complete box set generally costs around £50 which is the only reason not to buy this box set.
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