I consider myself a '24' aficionado. I've spent more time analyzing and writing about the show than I care to remember. This past season, after each episode aired, I set about making up a snarky point system for the show that was published on Film.com. See, the thing about '24,' now that it's been dragged out to eight seasons, is that it's so easy to make fun of. Don't get me wrong, I love the show, and Jack Bauer is one of my man crushes, but after eight years '24' has almost become a parody of itself. And let me say that season eight was the funniest season by far!
How many moles can there be in CTU? Really! Do they do background checks? Is it really that hard to weed out the would-be terrorists and undercover agents that are so often sneaking into CTU like it has a sign out front that reads "All are welcome, especially those trying to undermine us?" This season saw the creation of one of the most annoying moles CTU has ever had to deal with. Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff) was a thorn in an otherwise fun-loving, explosion-filled season. She slunk around the darkened corridors of CTU all the while plotting like Gollum to do whatever it is she was sent to CTU to do.
Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), on the other hand, started out day eight with only one thing on his mind; hanging out with his daughter and granddaughter. If only life were that simple for him. It never is though. He's quickly called into action, and being the America-loving patriot that he is, he accepts his role, which has him once again chasing down terrorists and their bombs and protecting world leaders.
There are around 1,000 or so subplots that ping-pong back and forth throughout the season. One of the chief subplots involves Freddie Prinze Jr. as Cole Ortiz, and the question of whether or not he'll ever blink. Cole is engaged to Dana, but doesn't know her deep dark secret about being an incessantly irritating double agent. Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is back, as scowly as ever, trying to help Jack complete his rouge missions behind the back of CTU (ah, the good old days!). Renee (Annie Wersching) has also returned, but with a full helping of angst to go along with her sour-puss face. Still that doesn't matter at all, because Jack has been smitten with her since season seven. Will they finally be able to live happily ever after?
There's also trouble in the White House as President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) has to deal with the inter-office political struggles that take too much time away from showing Jack Bauer kicking terrorist ass. (Spoiler Alert!) Even douchebag extraordinaire Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin) shows up in order to make us hate a character even more than Dana Walsh.
Still, in the end, season eight was fun and entertaining. The first half of the season suffers, with Jack getting less and less screen time every episode, but once the action kicks in it's non-stop until the end (who could forget Kid Terrorist turning to some kind of terrorist gumbo?). It was a good send off to the show, even though much of the season was riddled with '24' clichés of seasons past (seriously, how bad can CTU's perimeters really be?).
It was time for the show to end its run. It'd done just about everything it could with the storyline of Jack Bauer and his badass-ness. So, let's take this moment and fondly remember the last eight seasons of mayhem. Jack Bauer kicked some serious terrorist tail, and that's something that we'll never forget.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The eighth season of '24' comes squished onto four 50-GB discs, instead of the six it had for its season seven Blu-ray release. The keepcase is skinnier than season seven's and also comes with a cardboard slipcover.
The 1080p AVC-encoded image of season eight is almost identical to season seven. It has the same strengths and the same weaknesses.
The strengths here are when everyone is contained in an indoor space. The colors are strong and vibrant. Shadows add depth and never crush out detail. Fine detail on faces and clothing is perfectly visible. There's a slight smattering of cinematic grain, but it adds to the grittiness of the show and it's always been there.
Now for the weaknesses. Outside scenes at times border on disastrous. Whites are hugely overblown, washing out faces, detail, and just about everything else on screen. The blown out whites also harbor a firestorm of ant-like grain that creeps and crawls over the screen distracting the eye. Outdoor nighttime scenes also suffer as contrast levels become subdued and black levels begin crushing any sort of detail happening on screen. We're also faced with compression problems since Fox has seen fit to subtract two discs from last season's Blu-ray release. So now 24 episodes have been jammed onto four discs. This doesn't help matters any when it comes to overall picture quality and clarity. Aliasing and banding are visible some of the time, and compression noise runs rampant during the outdoor scenes.
Overall, '24' season eight is just about as disappointing as season seven was on Blu-ray. There are times where the picture will offer extreme clarity unrivaled by any other TV show on Blu-ray, and then the next moment you're confronted with nigh unwatchable scenes with de-saturated colors and overblown whites. With all that said, overall, the picture looks slightly better than it did in the last Blu-ray release for season seven.
At least Fox didn't skimp on the audio quality. Like season seven, season eight's audio presentation is a raucous affair that doesn't stop until the final episode. '24' still has the best use (of any TV show I've had the pleasure of viewing on Blu-ray) of surround sound. Gun fights are tremendously well constructed as bullets whiz by your head from side to side. You can clearly hear the pan of bullets flying through each channel. They'll originate in the front channels and quickly exit through the rears. Explosions harbor some wonderful LFE. The sub is engaged for much of the season. Either it's offering rumbling bass for the numerous explosions, or it's building tension with Sean Callery's famous '24' soundtrack.
Dialogue is clean and clearly audible through the center channel. Voices never get lost in the fray of action. Directionality is key here, and it works perfectly. '24' constantly has things happening off screen and the audio mix places each person and sound effect in its necessary place.
Even though the video presentation leaves much to be desired, at least you know you're getting a bombastic, close-to-demo-worthy audio presentation.
Seems as if Fox just wanted to get this release out there without any holdups. Last season we got a good helping of audio commentaries, this season's set, not a one. Boo
Season eight was a hoot! At least I thought it was. It was exciting, but Jack didn't get nearly enough screen time. A lot of time was spent watching Dana sulk and Charles Logan skulk. I'm glad to see the show has run its course, but it's a shame that this release doesn't look better. It sounds phenomenal, but the video needs some help. Packing the entire season and special features onto four Blu-ray discs doesn't help matters any. The special features also seem a little skimpy. Fox has foregone any audio commentaries, which is a shame, but the new epilogue with Chloe is a nice touch. I can only recommend this season for fans of the series. It's season eight, you know what you're getting with '24' by now.
Long live Jack Bauer!