The picture quality is excellent on both the Blu-Ray and DVD and presentation is really nice as usual, with fancy animated menus playing brief scenes from the episodes on that disc. Unfortunately if you’re a first time viewer these fancy menu backgrounds may spoil certain key moments (such as Kayla’s kidnapping) for you before you get to see them unfold in the episode.
I’m not going to bother reviewing the plot of Season 8 since I assume most people reading this have already watched, so I’ll mostly focus on the extras in this review. For the final season of such a monumental television series like 24 you would expect them to go all out and produce a fantastic DVD with tons of extras celebrating the series long run. Unfortunately that isn’t the case and this ends up being the weakest 24 DVD release yet.
My biggest disappointment is that there’s no audio commentaries at all. Last season over half the episodes had audio commentary and this year there’s absolutely nothing. Even the handful of deleted scenes are lacking commentaries this time around. I know of more than one cast and crew member that wanted to do commentaries but were simply never contacted. It’s baffling that there wasn’t at least one commentary track recorded for the series finale.
Bloopers, something that Kiefer Sutherland promised would be on the final season DVD a few years ago, are completely absent too. One can only assume that FOX is withholding this stuff in order to sell us 24 fans a “Special Edition” collectors set at a later date. Until then, enjoy some bloopers from the first season.
Here’s what you do get on the standalone DVD (and all the other versions too):
There are just six deleted scenes here, making it the fewest of any 24 DVD release yet. To make things worse, there are no audio commentaries on these either so you don’t have a clue as to why exactly these scenes were removed. There’s not even a brief title or description for them in the DVD menus, just the episode title (like “4:00 AM to 5:00 AM”) which tells you nothing at all – you won’t know what you’re about to watch until it’s actually playing. It’s very sloppily put together which is rather puzzling considering they’ve been doing this for years and have always gotten it right in the past.
Half of these six deleted scenes involve President Taylor, one of which is a great exchange between her and Logan talking about Jack Bauer (watch it above). I love that scene because you instantly get a sense of the long history between Bauer and Logan. There’s a scene between Dana Walsh and Kevin Wade in which she tries to stick up for herself a bit before breaking down in tears again (it’s just too bad her entire character wasn’t deleted). We get a nice little character development scene with Renee Walker at CTU telling Chloe how she wanted to call Jack (watch that here). And finally there’s an excellent three-minute extended version of Jack recording his taped message to Kim in the series finale.
All that extra footage from the Jack and Renee love scene in episode 17 that Annie Wersching mentioned shooting? Not in here. Aside from deleted scenes, some of the episodes are ‘extended’ with an additional two or three minute scene at the end. These were already released on the official 24 website every week as part of the Sprint “Operation Hero” game.
These are two minute behind-the-scenes videos with cast and crew members describing how a certain aspect of that episode (such as a car stunt) was accomplished. These were released each week on the official 24 website as the season aired and you can watch all 21 of them here. On the Blu-Ray version these play in standard DVD definition (720×480) rather than HD.
Virtually New York
This is an interesting nine minute feature showing how the producers of 24 cheated the location of New York. Due to budget issues (and also weather continuity being important to a show like 24 which takes place in one day), they couldn’t shoot the season in New York like they had hoped and were instead forced to fake it using green-screen and Stargate Digital’s virtual backlot technology. They show several special effects shots including the helicopter takeoff in the premiere and the Jack Bauer helicopter chase in episode 19. Brad Turner, Howard Gordon, Rodney Charters, and Stargate employees appear on this.
The Ultimate CTU
This 13 minute feature describes how the new CTU New York was designed. Howard Gordon reveals they briefly considered setting the seventh season in New York before deciding to go with Washington. Production designer Carlos Barbosa describes all the logistics of CTU and you’ll realize that a ton of thought went into building this place. Here’s a one minute clip from “The Ultimate CTU”.
So to summarize, the standalone DVD gets you the Scenemakers and ‘episode extender’ scenes (both of which were released online), two special features, and a handful of deleted scenes. The standalone Blu-Ray disc has the “Chloe’s Arrest” epilogue (read about that below) but is otherwise the same as the DVD. For everything else, you’ll need the bonus disc in the complete series.
24 Complete Series Review and Bonus Features
The packaging for the 24 Complete Series is yet another disappointment. If you look at some other television box sets, a lot of them come in fancy packaging themed to fit the show and include all sorts of trinkets and nice goodies to reward the hardcore fans who spend hundreds of dollars on these sets. What did FOX do for the 24 DVD set? Simply stuff all the seasons tightly into a cardboard box along with a bonus disc. Think of all the cool 24-themed ways they could have packaged this boxset (like a suitcase nuke for example) and they go the uncreative and cheap route of sticking the past seasons in a box.
The bonus disc claims an hour of footage, here’s what you get:
Comic-Con 2009 Panel for 24 Season 8
This is a 32 minute video of the 24 Season 8 Comic-Con panel from last year featuring most of the regular cast and crew members talking about Season 8. This footage can be found online (in bootleg YouTube form – watch the entire thing here) but it’s nice to have an official release in good quality.
Season 8 Wrap Party Reel
This confusingly named feature is an eleven minute retrospective video that played at the wrap party. It’s nicely edited and covers the majority of big scenes in 24 – it’ll make you want to re-watch the whole series again, so job well done to the folks that created this. Like with most of the features though, this video was released online months ago, so you don’t need to purchase the set in order to watch.
FOX calls this a “revealing mini-episode” but in reality it’s just an insignificant three minute epilogue featuring Chloe and Morris O’Brian with their son Prescott. The FBI knocks on Chloe’s door wanting to know Jack’s location and Chloe stays loyal to the very end, refusing to tell them anything and getting arrested in front of her son and husband. I suppose Howard Gordon realized that Chloe was one of the few characters to remain unscathed at the end of the series and wanted to rectify that by putting her behind bars. You can watch the full Chloe’s Arrest scene here.
This is the juiciest part of the bonus disc – it’s a look back at the 24 series broken into the following four segments:
Jack Bauer: Evolution of a Hero (7:18) – this piece has much of the cast and crew (including Kiefer Sutherland) describing the evolution of the Jack Bauer character and how he went from a family man that was playing chess with his daughter in the premiere to an action hero. Lots of well-deserved praise for Kiefer from his colleagues. Check it out:
Presidents, Friends and Villains (4:40) – this is the weakest part of the four segments. As you can probably tell by the title, there’s no real theme to this segment and it’s mostly just a bunch of short clips with characters saying a line with their name in plain-white text in the bottom corner of the screen. Watch Presidents, Friends, and Villains here.
Memories and Moments (8:56) – many 24 crew members appear on this and list their favorite moments of the series such as Ryan Chappelle’s execution and Teri’s death. We get some stories about how big 24 is among politicians – Howard Gordon mentioned how Bill Clinton came up to him before Season 8 and said he’s a huge fan and watches the series on his iPhone and Rodney Charters shared a story about how Condoleezza Rice watches 24 on Air Force One (now that’s some good in-flight entertainment). Watch that segment here.
Goodbye (7:59) – About two minutes of this is brief interviews with “24″ cast members on the red carpet at the series finale party on April 30th. Then it goes into wrapping up the final episode with a scene between Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Watch the “Goodbye” feature here.
This release is extremely barebones which is especially disappointing considering it’s the final season of the show. Not only are there very few extras in this release, but most of them were already put online by FOX months ago. It seems like the budget for this DVD went towards marketing stunts like the 24 Marathon rather than actually producing compelling content for it.
If you don’t care about the extras and only want to watch the episodes, then you’ll be happy with this. For everyone else you should probably pass on this one. This is just complete speculation, but I get the feeling that there will be another “proper” release to coincide with the shows ten-year anniversary that will contain the bloopers and other missing material. At least I hope so – this is an epic series that deserves an epic boxset.