"24: Season 1 Special Edition" DVD Review
June 25, 2008 by Zach Demeter
In the world of TV itís often the second or third season where a show hits its stride, but the opposite happened with 24. Right out of the gate the show was so original and engaging that by the time the shocking ending came, viewers wondered how the show would be able to top itself in future seasons. Unfortunately the answer, thus far, is the show has yet to engage the viewer as thoroughly as it did in the first season, but thatís to be expected. Future seasons managed to entertain, to be sure, but none could quite reach the level of intensity as the first season.
24ís first season starts out with Counter Terrorist Unit head Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) ending another day of work when he is called back into the Los Angeles CTU branch when word of a possible assassination attempt on presidential candidate David Palmer (Denis Haysbert) is leaked. In addition to the CTU crisis, Jack and his wife Teri (Leslie Hope) must cope with their rebellious teenage daughter who has just snuck out, causing Jackís home and work life to clash in violent ways.
I didnít start watching 24 until the third season debuted, when a few of my online friends goaded me into watching the show. I didnít regret it and despite the third season being the one that drew me in, I ultimately grew to dislike that season in particular, especially after catching up on the two that preceded it. While the big twists and turns from previous seasons were spoiled for me by the time Iíd gotten to the third season (although once it took a mid-season break, I was able to catch up on the past seasons), I found catching up on the shows previous seasons on DVD made for an engaging and time-sucking time. Within a few days Iíd barreled through the first season and in short time made it onto the second season.
Thatís something about the show I quickly realized: more than any show that had come before it, 24 seemed destined for DVD. The week-to-week wait for a new episode (and that only came late in the series, the first few seasons had the same air schedule as regular network shows) can sometimes kill the mood and pacing of a certain story arc within the season and with a show like 24 the longer you wait in-between sessions the more you lose. Itís similar to the average humanís retention of Math/Algebraóif you donít use it every day, you quickly forget. Although watching 24 doesnít make me want to break something like Algebra does.
For the past several years Iíve attempted 24 marathons where I re-watch everyone of the seasons before a new one debuts (last yearís marathon didnít go as planned, partly because of the Writerís Strike delaying the show but also because I simply didnít have time to watch over a hundred hours of television again). Each time I do attempt the marathon, however, I find my excitement for re-watching all of the seasons stems from merely watching the first season over again; no matter how many times I watch it, itís an exciting time and one that is only matched by the shows fifth season, which Iím pretty sure they designed from the start to be made of complete awesome, as it rarely skipped a bit and rivaled the first season at times.
The elements that made the first season of 24 so engaging was the characters and the shows insistence on telling the audience that we really didnít know where the story was going; we could guess all we wanted, but between the CTU mole twists and the entire Drazen family, the series was simply one of the most original concepts to hit the airwaves. It was a risk going for a twenty-four episode season, but the gamble for Fox paid off in spades as it quickly became one of the highest rated and nominated television dramas to date.
By now 24 has hit the mainstream audience and the surprises of the first season are well known, but if my repeated viewings have taught me anything, it doesnít matter how many times you see it, itís as engaging each time and before you know it youíll be at the series finale. Itís an incredible show and this first season especially comes Highly Recommended.
In what may possibly be the first television show to receive a double dip (youíre setting a dangerous precedent here, Fox), Fox Home Video has decided to make this edition of the first season much more in-depth in content than the original release, which was nearly bare bones. The first change is the packaging: the show arrives in a tin with a giant embossed 24 logo on the cover and a digital clock below that you can reset. Not exactly that impressive of an extra, a digital clock, and I would have enjoyed it more if it played some music from the series when it reached the ď24Ē markÖas is it just seems like a waste of plastic and batteries. Inside the tin are some inserts, including advertisements for other Fox products and a booklet for the season with new introductions by Joel Surnow and Bob Cochren. Discs are housed in heavy cardboard sleeves with disc art nearly identical to the original release, with only the printing style and some of the logo and fonts changed around. Menuís for the discs are relatively unchanged, except now each episode has its own sub-menu.
One thing about the original 24 Season 1 set was that the transfers for the episodes werenít exactly up to part with future releases. Iím happy to report that Fox made all of the transfers for this set in progressive, so no interlaced transfers are amongst the setÖaside from the pilot, which Iím going to assume simply didnít have a progressive master available. Unfortunately there are no ďPreviously on 24Ē recaps like seasons two through six have, so there is that drawback. The sound mix is also in a Dolby Stereo Surround mix only, so donít expect a 5.1 track here either. A disappointment on that front, but the extras are the real reason to upgrade this set, although even then itís strictly for fans of the series only.
First up is a pair of commentaries. The first is on "12:00 - 1:00am" with Stephen Hopkins and Director of Photography Peter Levy commenting and the second track arriving on "11:00pm - 12:00am" with Leslie Hope and Director Stephen Hopkins on board. Both tracks are a nice listen, but with commentary only on the pilot and season finale, it seems like they missed a lot of possible elements to comment on throughout the season. I guess Fox didnít want to invest a ton of money into this set, so that explains the limited extras. Itís still nice to have Leslie Hope on board for the final episode commentary, however.
Returning extras from the original release include Sutherland discussion the first season of 24 (1:33) and the Alternate Ending with commentary from Joel Surnow (2:27). Both extras remain unchanged and are actually slightly disappointing; Iíd heard there was actually a third ending for the series shot and hoped that it would be included here, but no dice. Fortunately for every disappointment on this set there seems to be an extra that counteracts the negatives and the twenty-five deleted scenes (26:24), all in progressive scan, are quite the treat. Even though the scenes were removed from the original airing, you can somehow form an idea of how the overall season progressed through the deleted scenes, as odd as that may sound. Obviously previous season sets with a larger amount of deleted scenes made that easier than the twenty six minutes of scenes on this season, but itís still applicable in some ways.
Aside from the commentaries the new extras on this set is the ďThe Genesis of 24Ē (24:40) and episodes of ďThe Rookie.Ē The ďGenesisĒ extra features cast and crew (mainly just crew) commentary on the first season and where it went in terms of writing. This is actually a very cool extra as it helps fill the void of multiple commentaries with the core team of the show talking about specific elements of the season. A very solid extra and I wish more seasons had this overview style extra.
Finally we have ďThe RookieĒ extras, which, for some reason, arenít in anamorphic widescreen like the rest of the extras and is instead presented in a letterboxed 4x3 frame. Why? Thatís a good question, I honestly donít know. Still the two episodes, ďCoffee RunĒ (7:03) and ďGet This ToÖĒ (10:01), have a certain appeal about them but they just donít quite reach the same level of excitement as the show. In a way they feel like nothing more than fan filmsÖwith Degree advertising their deodorant before it.
Overall this set is strictly for die-hard fans. The extras here are minimal and while the progressive transfers are nice, the lack of re-caps and 5.1 mix make this a difficult set to warrant a full upgrade. If you donít already own the first season then this set is the one to get and comes Highly Recommended. Otherwise you can safely Skip or Rent this to check out the extras.