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24 - Season 1 DVD

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Such a simple idea--yet so fiendishly complex in the execution. 24, as surely everyone knows by now, is a thriller that takes place over 24 hours, midnight to midnight, in 24 one-hour episodes (well, 45-minute episodes if you extract the ad breaks). Everything to take place in real time--on-screen and off-screen time the same--which means no flash-backs, no flash-forwards, no nice handy time-dissolves. Every strand of the plot has to be dovetailed and interlocked to make sure that things happen just when they should, in the right amount of time. Not that easy. Creator Robert Cochran and his team of writers and directors have done a pretty impressive job in putting the jigsaw together and keeping the tension ratcheted up high, as Federal Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) hares around LA trying to stall an assassination attempt on a black Presidential candidate and rescue his wife and daughter from the clutches of the Balkan baddies. Twists, turns, revelations and cliffhangers are tossed at us with satisfying regularity. It?s not perfect: we get some hokey plot devices (instant amnesia, anybody?) and the final twist, once you start thinking back, makes no sense whatsoever. There are altogether too many huggy family moments ("I love you, Dad." "I love you, son"); and as for ├╝berbaddie Dennis Hopper?s "Serbian" accent? Even so, this is undeniably mould-breaking TV. Sutherland, rescuing his career from the doldrums in one heroic leap, fully deserves his Golden Globe. Sets and locations are artfully deployed--we gain a real sense of LA?s splayed-out geography--and Sean Callery?s score is a powerful, brooding presence. Like Murder One and The Sopranos, 24 is one of those series future TV thrillers will have to measure themselves against. On the DVDs: 24 is released in a six-disc box set. On discs 1- 5 there are no extras, but disc 6 includes the "alternative" ending and a preview of Series 2, presented by an urbane Kiefer Sutherland, that tells us precisely nothing. The transfer, in 16x9 widescreen and 2.0 Dolby Digital sound, does the high production values of the original every justice.--Philip Kemp

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The complete first series of the real-time suspense drama series that takes place hour-by-hour over the course of one day. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), an agent for the CIA's Counter Terrorist Unti (CTU), is trying to prevent the assassination of frontrunning Democrat candidate Senator David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), after the CTU receives a death threat against him. However, a traitor amongst Jack's colleagues manages to hamper his progress, and Jack finds that he has been framed for the assassination himself. He flees the CIA agents on his tail in a desperate attempt to find the real perpetrators, led by Ira Gaines (Michael Massee). Injured, and armed with nothing except his mobile phone and the help of trusted colleague Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke), Jack's situation becomes increasingly precarious. Meanwhile, his teenage daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) has gone missing after sneaking out of the house with her friend Janet (Jacqui Maxwell), and Jack's ex-wife Terri (Leslie Hope) unwittingly puts herself in grave danger when she goes looking for her.

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