on January 7, 2005
Thus reads the back of the boxed DVD set.
Fox's primetime hit series =24= has peaked new heights in edge-of-your-seat storytelling with its third - and best - season. Commercials provide the only pause, the only letup, in this colossally suspenseful terror-trip.
For those who would do so, there is no need to bash it for being less than perfect - nobody could expect absolute flawlessness from 980 minutes of television drama, no matter how refined. I will briefly mention the two foremost problems. (1) That so many events of such large and interrelated significance would take place, all within twenty-four hours, stretches probability way beyond the breaking point. (2) I have had the privilege of working occasionally with a substantial number of Spanish speakers; consequently, I can say that, for the show, the Mexicans should have spoken to and among each other always in Spanish, very nearly never in English (a problem with the Czecks in the first season as well). But the handling of the story is so very good that, understanding and accepting these and other minor flaws, most of us can suspend our disbelief.
Jack is back! - this time to stop terrorists from unleashing a weaponized virus into the American public. The quest to capture it takes him through twists and turns, to a Los Angeles prison, northern Mexico, run-down neighborhoods, a hotel, subway, and an elementary school. This time the threat is biological ... on a virtually unimaginable scale.
Since the series began in the fall of 2001, coinciding, as it would, with the awful tragedy of 9/11, the characters have become quite distinguishable, possessing interesting personalities, and colorful - if in some cases annoying - subtleties. Most of the acting appears quite convincing; as network dramas go, there is minimal contrivance. I shall go quickly through those at CTU and the president's company, first; followed by the terrorists, second. Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) has a secret this time, and he seems genuinely fearful of being exposed. We have a Tony (Carlos Bernard) who, not suprisingly, is down-to-earth, sometimes rigidly so, yet every now and then we see that he carries at his side a sense of compassion. Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth) has married, and though occasionally it doesn't look like she's handling things splendidly at first, we see quite the turnaround later. Kim Baeur works at CTU, not far removed from boyfriend Chase Edmunds, a newbie to the team. Those who like having Kim remain in the series but dislike the idea of her working for CTU should consider the alternative: Kim, on the outside, getting herself into further trouble. We watched this during Season One, then we were thrown the same KIND of thing in Season Two. Chase Edmunds is a tough guy; the more we see of him, the more we think, `Here is a would-be Jack'. Chloe (a quirky, annoying, protocol-wary technician), Adam (efficiency-loving), and Gaiel (cautious, ostensibly a mole) are new sign-ons as well. Finally, getting much more screen time than in Season Two, Regional Director Ryan Chappelle - a no-nonsense, give-it-to-me-straight boss. President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) remains the strong moral compass we grew to admire in the first two seasons. But this time, it's not just him dealing with interpersonal problems within his own campaign and the ensuing damage to the outside world. Here we see how he responds to new situations, posed by the competing political party (Republicans, we may say, given Sherry's Season One statement to that effect) toward his own campaign, as opposed to the press and personal staff adversaries of the earlier seasons. And later in the third, we come upon a nasty and inevitable dirty struggle between the president and his much-needed contributor, Alan, who tries to extort him. In the middle is Alan's wife, Julia, not wanting to get involved but eventually forced to. How will David deal with new problems that tempt new compromises, as his steadfast morality goes head to head with the convenience of relativism? Taking Mike's place as chief advisor is his brother Wayne, whose broader philosophy is at least faintly like, however much less devious than, Sherry's. She, too, is back ... with intent more malicious than anything we've seen from her yet.
Now, for the terrorists. In particular, Joaquim de Almeida does a terrific job portraying Ramon Salazar, the initially incarcerated leader of a north Mexican drug cartel. He looks, feels, and smells like a bad guy in every conventional way. His younger brother Hector is believable as a second-man in charge (even if the director should not have cast them as brothers; they don't `look' at all like family). Nina returns, escaping confinement in North Africa, and as we've seen what she is capable of in One and Two, it is not that difficult to imagine. Former CTU mole, conspirator in a domestic nuclear attack, and now buyer of a biological superweapon, Nina is more of a matter-of-fact `bad guy': a cold, sinister, `I-just-enjoy-this'-type killer. Michael Amador is an arms dealer, reserved in nature, and we think we know his intentions .... Alvers is a loyal agent in Stephen Saunders' plan, sent to distribute the virus in L.A. Saunders himself is the worst terrorist - a man with a single weakness - as he sets into motion a diabolical arrangement that more terrible than anything that's come before it. A final note: a teenager named Kyle Singer, while not a terrorist per se, constitutes part of the plan to deliver the package.
Several hours into the season, a drastic plot shift will hit most first-time viewers more or less like a freight train. As in One and Two, perhaps the best reason the bad guys keep falling is, well, they underestimate Jack. Consistently: from Hector to Jack's airplane guard to Ramon to Amador to Alvers and even Saunders. Nina seems to be the only exception ... which makes sense enough, given their past. (Sorry, I can't reveal what happens to her.)
I don't think I've ever seen one other network series attempt what =24= has. It would not be exaggerating, nor employing hyperbole, to say that if enough things went wrong over the course of trying to take and contain the virus, it is entirely possible that the vast majority of the WORLD's population might have perished, probably within several weeks. In no other show have I witnessed TV drama so carefully weave together a tapestry of plot and subplot, push the limits of suspense, raise the stakes as high - with so very, very many lives caught in the balance - or represent so tenacious, so persistent, or so very deadly-serious a counter-terrorist agent as Jack Baeur.
The DVD set contains six episode discs, as well as a seventh for commentary, deleted scenes, and other extras.
Season 3 of 24 focuses on a threat of a virus being released into the city of Los Angeles as well as other major population centers. As usual, Jack Bauer is on the scene to stop the bad guys. Because so much of the entertainment value of the show comes from the twists and turns of the plot, I won't reveal many of the specifics but there two major story arcs that should be familiar to those who have watched the first two seasons. First, there is Jack and the other CTU agents who are racing against time to stop the terrorists from releasing the virus. Then there is President David Palmer and his administration that are fighting various potential scandals at the same time they deal with the virus.
The first thing that a viewer notices about this season is that the pace starts off a bit more slowly. It's not dull by any means, but it is definitely less frenetic out of the starting gate. The good part of this is that the writers have also eliminated the flaws that were evident in the last third of the first two seasons. This season is the first that felt like the story had been thought through to the very end with solid pacing throughout leading to a good climax in the last episode. I found this a welcome change from earlier seasons where it seemed that all the good ideas were used up early and increasingly preposterous ideas ruined the story at the time when it should have been building to the big finale.
Jack's character is generally much more under control than we have seen previously. He is still willing to go further than most men would, but he no longer seems to be driven by constant rage or a death wish. I found this change a welcome one. Kim Bauer is also improved as the amount of time she spends as a prisoner/hostage is radically reduced and she even proves useful at times in her new role as a CTU computer analyst. The performances of the villains were quite good, especially Joaquim de Almeida as Ramon Salazar. He brings a combination of charm and ruthlessness that is just right to make him a bad guy you love to hate.
The biggest low point of the season was the soap opera swirling around David Palmer's presidency. This is a man who was shown to be very principled in the first season, but since then he has consistently done the wrong or immoral thing any time he's been faced with a tough choice. His judgment is so consistently poor that I found myself no longer pulling for him and hoping that he would be brought down by the scandal of his own actions. It's a shame, because Dennis Haysbert has terrific presence and the writers did not need to insert all this cheap melodrama into the story.
I've only watched the first three seasons so far, but this is clearly the best one to date. The story holds together much better from beginning to end, and a lot of the worst plot contrivances that plagued the first two seasons have been done away with. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a thrill ride television series. There are many twists and turns and it makes for quite a breathtaking experience.
Season 3 of suspense thriller 24 served up the most suspenseful and most emotional season of the show to date.
Set three years after season 2, Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) is working with a partner named Chase (James Badge Dale). Jack's daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) is also working for the LA branch of CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit). President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), meanwhile, is running for reelection.
This particular bad day starts at 1 PM, when Jack learns of plan to release a virus unless a criminal he just spent six months trying to arrest is freed. This leads to a chain reaction of events trying to get a hold of the virus before it is released into the population which includes hunting down drug dealers, a prison riot, a trip to Mexico, and time in a high rise hotel. The terrorists seem to be one step ahead of Jack and CTU the entire time.
President Palmer, meanwhile, is facing tough rumors again, this time targeting his doctor and new girlfriend. But that's nothing compared to what happens when his main backer demands that Palmer fire his chief of staff, who also happens to be his brother (D. B. Woodside).
To me this is the best season to date. The first few hours are a bit scattered, but things come into focus much earlier then previous seasons and once the story gets going, it stays strong. While there are still a couple soap opera plots, they are kept to a minimum this year. The biggest improvement is Kim's storyline. Since she's working at CTU, we don't get any crazy storylines with her, but things that actually move forward the main story. And the second half of the season gets really intense. The early morning hours especially are emotionally hard to get through. But the episodes where things don't work out are what make this show so wonderful.
Fox again has released a wonderful season set for the show. All 24 episodes are presented on six discs in wide screen and surround sound audio. There are a total of 45 deleted scenes scattered over the six discs and each disc has one audio commentary from various members of the cast and crew. The seventh disc in this set is devoted solely to extras. The 45 deleted scenes are collected in one place, this time with optional commentary by the producers. In edition, there are special features on the gadgets of the show and the reality of a biothreat. Finally, there are a couple teasers and mini-scenes that bridge the gap betweens season 3 and 4.
While I am addicted to several serialized shows, this is by far the most addictive of the lot. Plan plenty of time to watch this season because once you start, you won't want to stop.
on August 8, 2005
As a HUGE fan of Season One and Two, I have to say Season Three left me disappointed. YES there are great moments and cliffhangers, and YES some characters finally came out swinging (Michelle esp.), but as I watched, I kept asking myself, "would the CTU of Season One ever allow this to happen?" What I LOVED about the first season was how smart and tightly wound the team was. The least little misstep in protocol was vehemently scrutinized by everyone. There was a sense that this was the best of the best...a top notch agency with brilliant minds and strategists at every turn.
Now, we have Kim Bauer working at CTU? WTF? I mean, a few years ago she was a pouty teenaged brat partying with losers. And now she's working the computer system like a pro? Sitting in on most of the important meetings and even field ops?
Since when did inter-office sniping become the norm at CTU? Someone gives an order, and the answer is, "look...I'm working as fast as I can", or "you yelling at me doesn't help". This happens about fifty times throughout the season. Again...WTF? This is CTU, not the DMV for crissakes.
Chloe. I guess she was supposed to be the "humor" point, but, again...in Season One, the team would have canned her so fast.
It all just makes the CTU team mediocre and not as cool and heroic as they used to be. The finest intelligence operation in the country should NOT remind viewers of their own offices and coworkers.
The President Palmer storyline was ridiculous. By the end, I hoped he would go down, I disliked him so much. And he was, up until this seaason, one of the strongest characters of integrity on television. They messed him up with a sub-par set of stupid circumstances. Dang.
I really hope Season 4 will return to a smart, slick suspense format, and stay away from the silly soap opera antics of Season three.
on October 27, 2004
I hadn't seen this show till this particular season. All I can say is wow. This is BY FAR the best show on TV. Of course I now own the 1st and 2nd seasons. I still think the best episode of 24 I have ever seen is from this season, the one where Chappelle's fate is determined. The tension in that episode is amazing, and just when you think the writers couldn't pull any more punches they find another way to fool you. Anyways, if you haven't checked this show out please do. It is better than most of the movies that are out these days.
on October 27, 2005
'24' Season Three is a tense-filled, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride that is better than its second season, which saw Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) preventing a nuclear bomb from being set off in Los Angeles. In this season of '24', Jack is dealing with a biological threat and is the head of field operations at CTU, where his protege Chase Edmunds (James Badge Dale) is having a secret relationship with Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert), who went through unnecessary suspense in the previous season. Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) and Michelle Dessler (Reiko Alyesworth) are married, President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) has a new love interest and a brother working for him, and new characters Chloe and Gael are introduced.
I can't give you more than a basic plotline without spoiling the surprises and shocking twists this season churns up, so here are the highlights:
1) The main plot involving the biological threat is always exciting and produces some of the most suspenseful and tense episodes in '24' history.
2) The unpredictability factor of '24' reaches new heights this season with the deaths of a few major characters. Perhaps the most unsettling moment in '24' history occurs in this season when Jack has to choose whether or not to sacrifice someone he works with in order to save millions of lives. The scene plays out unexpectedly and is nothing short of riveting.
3) Sherry Palmer (Penny Johnson Jerald) and Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke), fantastic villainesses from seasons one and two return to play a part in the day's events. Their character arcs are never dull and give some episodes a powerful edge.
4) The acting is terrific in this season. Keifer Sutherland does a fine job at keeping Jack Bauer as a man on edge personally and professionally. James Badge Dale does an excellent job as the calm and collected Chase, offering the perfect counterpoint to Jack's anything goes way of dealing with terrorists. The best acting of the season is done by Reiko Alyesworth. Her work in the midseason episodes is brilliant and shows the complexities of her character when she is faced with life or death situations. Alyesworth's work was definitely deserving of an Emmy nod, but she never received one.
5) The last episode of the season is very exciting and ends in an unexpected way. It is a very personal ending, one which the audience will appreciate after taking into account what has gone before in the character's life.
6)The quality of the sound and picture is terrific. The action sequences look very well-done and polished.
'24' Season Three is better than season two and almost matches the powerful first season, in that the biological threat plot goes on the entire 24 hours, never letting up. What makes Season Three weaker than season one is that the main plot takes about four episodes to really start, due to many subplots which slow down the pacing of the story. Those flaws aside, '24' Season Three is one heck of a roller-coaster ride, providing the viewer with a most twisted plot that only the writers of '24' could devise.
on December 11, 2004
Season 3 tends to present growing pains for most TV shows. The first season generally sets up the franchise, the second season reacts to and raises the bar on the first...and the third tends to be uncharted territory, the true proof of a show's mettle. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, The Sopranos, and countless others all followed this arc more or less.
In the case of 24, the challenge is doubled because the first two seasons seemed to have thrown in every stylistic conceit, story twist, and character turn warranted by the espionage action/thriller genre. And Season Three carries on the tradition, but you can see the difficulty in maintaining the momentum.
The story is the main problem. It was almost inevitable that this show would utilize a biological-weapons plot sooner or later, but at certain key points in the A storyline, the plot finds itself with nowhere to go -- or rather, it knows where it wants to end up six episodes from now, but not in the next two. The narrative drive of this season lags very badly at two points, around the eighth episode and near the end. The Mexico portion takes up more time than it needs, and near the end the virus subplot ends up taking a back seat to the scanty political scandal around President Palmer. Dennis Haysbert is reliable as Palmer, as usual, but when put alongside the virus infection and inevitable death of 800 people in the biological attack, Palmer's manoeuvrings with the petty Millikens seem downright trivial. And just when I thought they'd given the character of Sherry Palmer some depth and believability in Season Two, here she once again reverts to a character whose actions will have you scratching your head in bewilderment. Her blackmail of Palmer oscillates wildly between "I want you back" and "you're a dead man"; to pull this off, they needed to give her emotional layers, and she doesn't get them. The result is that she is not believable emotionally and holds no weight. And while DB Woodside is appealing as Wayne Palmer, his attraction to the void-headed Julia Milliken (a skin-deep Gina Torres) makes for poor motivation. The two previous seasons wove President Palmer's political stories and the terrorist threats far more deftly, and in this season, Palmer takes a definite back seat. Luckily, the entrance of smarmy main villain Stephen Saunders raises the stakes nicely and boosts the narrative back up to the peak levels of Seasons 1 and 2. Easily the most evil villain this show has seen, and that's saying a lot.
The CTU plot fares much better. The revelation this season is Reiko Aylesworth. While she was quite good in Season Two, here she seems to take a quantum leap forward in screen presence, intensity, and emotional engagement. The character of Michelle Dessler is not only stronger but more multi-layered and therefore more appealing; this was the first time I didn't miss Sarah Clarke as Nina Myers. Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer is always fun to watch, though despite a heroin-addiction subplot, Jack doesn't really do anything too different from before. Kim Bauer is now a cursory character at best, giving Elisha Cuthbert far fewer occasions to shine, but the addition of Mary Lynn Rajskub as oddball, insensitive analyst Chloe is great -- the character ellicits a weird mix of annoyance and sympathy that's perfect for the CTU dynamic. Kick-butt Portuguese actor Joaquim de Almeida is stunning as drug dealer Ramon Salazar, one of those bad guys so effective and charismatic that you almost respond to them as if they were a protagonist. Carlos Bernard gets to explore new, sensitive aspects of director Tony Almeida's character, James Badge Dale as Chase Edmunds provides a worthy action-man sidekick to the cast, and even long-running antagonist Ryan Chappelle (John Schulze) gets a moment in the sun in a small but touching subplot. It's nice to see a "good-guy" character in 24 who's not steely and self-sacrificing, but cowardly and vulnerable.
Tonally this season is darker than the previous two. 24 has always been strong in making you feel like everything's falling apart, and this season aces the previous two in catastrophic excess. That can't be a bad thing, since it definitely unsettles you, taking away the sense of safety and familiarity that TV series can often fall prey to. In short, good suspense thriller material.
A major weakness, though, is that the plot holes and iffy character motivations that have always orbited the plotlines of 24 are now pretty glaring. The twist ("Gael's wife") which opens the final episode of the season is ridiculous, the discovery of the "Jane Saunders" link not satisfying, and the two big character reveals of Sherry Palmer and Nina Myers definitely have the feel of rehashed material from Season Two, even though I still enjoy Sarah Clarke's understated performance as insidious rogue Nina Myers. And but for Sherry Palmer's erratic actions, I still like Penny Johnson Jerald in the role -- she provides some much-needed sense of humour into a show that's by and large devoid of levity and comic relief.
Once again the story fails to wrap up loose strands, trying to explain questions away in broad strokes but leaving us hungry. Season One had left us wondering "How did Nina Myers get evil" and "Who did she work for", questions never addressed in Season Two, and similarly Season Three pole-vaults over the final twist of Season Two just by saying "President Palmer survived the virus attack, no problem". And we know "something happened" to make villain Stephen Saunders from a "patriot" into a fanatical terrorist, but we never find out what. Sorry, guys, that ain't gonna cut it. It's important to keep current story strands active, but certain loose ends just can't be left untied.
This show still makes for great fun watching, but now that the franchise has been shaken up so much by the substantial story shifts in this season, I wonder what the next season will be like. If internet sources are to be believed (and I'm not saying they are), and if my eyes didn't fail me in watching the "Season 4 Trailer" on this DVD set, we're about to lose about 75 per cent of the main cast, to be replaced by new characters. That would take some major getting used to. And I hope the writers and producers don't do the "turn-a-blind-eye" trick towards the major developments started in this season, because aside from this unsettling habit, this is still a good, engaging show.
on May 8, 2007
Wow, you really have to suspend your disbelief to get the full effect of this show.
Are we to believe that a man in Jack Bower's position, not to mention his age would just start taking Heroin? Even if that were the case, is it believable that the magic pills that Ramon Salazar gave him completely removed his withdrawals for the rest of the day? Maybe he has some super healing factor.
Speaking of healing, why did they even bother to stitch Tony up? The only ill effect of his terrible neck wound was he fell on one episode, and had to wear a patch sometimes.
The only person who didn't completely heal in two episodes was Chase, but I did notice him wiggle all four fingers after a hole was blown through his hand. A few more torture sessions and he will probably be able to recoup as fast as Jack. At least his missing metacarples didn't get him "taken out of play." To his credit at least he tried not to use his hand very much for the rest of the season (until the end).
Are we also supposed to believe that the beautiful, but dim witted Kim is now smart enough to work at CTU? Come on, her whole character has been based on her dumb decisions, and all of a sudden she turned smart. The brief scene where she shows up the new computer man just doesn't give her credibility in the light of her past impulsive decisions. She needs to be taken out of play.
I work in a school and even there the system policy is that a person cannot supervise his/her spouse. I would think a high level, top secret, govenrment agency would have a similar policy, especially if one spouse was going to be put in harms way.
Also, what idiot would put an axe in a middle school? An axe!? Ask any middle school teacher or administrator if that is in any way believeable, and all you are likely to get is a wide eyed blank stare.
Too bad Tony isn't as above the law as Jack. How many people has Jack murdered, not just killed but murdered, and gotten away with it? Did anyone take him out of play in the end for the prison riot? How many innocent people were killed there? Tony makes a couple of mistakes to help his wife and they want to hang him from the yard arm.
Tony must have forgotten the double secret rule of CTU, that you can break any law as long as you are doing it for the good of the country and are successful. Tony only had part of that formula down. Well maybe Jack can get him out of prison too.
Finally, there was no need to bring a baby into the series. The whole Chase, Kim, Jack triangle delved too close to a soap opera. I especially liked(hated) the part in the end where Chase wants to settle down, as if that formula hasn't been played out in every cop show: The partner wants to retire, or sees a peaceful future, then we feel sorry for him when those dreams are smashed by an axe weilding Jack. Bower, not Nickelson that is.
Enough of the critisims. This season had alot of action, a lot of suspense, and because Kim is now smart, many of the problems to be solved were not the result of dumb decisions.
I also liked the fact that a couple of the tired old characters were permanently taken out of play. However, I was looking for more of a twist either in the middle or end. Nothing thus far has topped Nina's betrayal in the first season.
Season 3 scores a 3, because it moves further and further from what could even possibably happen. If you really like 24 then buy it. If you sat on the fence on the last season, borrow it. If you were disappointed with season 2, you will kick yourself for all the productive hours you wasted watching this one.
on September 12, 2004
24 is, by far, the best TV show ever. You have to watch every season over and over, and you always have to start at the beginning and move on through each and every episode. Newbies to the show, watch at least season one first. It will help explain some things in season three. I also recommend seeing season two as well before watching this, but it is not essential. The threat this time is a very lethal, very fast virus, once again in L.A. Set on the day of the Presidential debate, it makes for great TV once again. The time is 3 years after the events of season two. Another great storyline with incredible twists that will shock and take even veterans such as myself by surprise. Only two problems with this season: 1. It takes a few episodes to get the story going, but once it gets going, the story takes off and leaves you on the edge of your seat craving for it to be next week already so you can watch the next episode, so just be patient and it will pay off, I promise. 2. It leaves you on the edge of your seat craving for it to be next week already so you can watch the next episode! I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone who loves a great storyline that leaves you on the edge of your seat and likes to see a good amount of action and hear some incredible music and see great acting. Can't wait for season four!
on June 15, 2012
I'd heard about this show but never watched it until now, 2012. I hammered my way through Season 1, struggled through Season 2 and hesitantly started Season 3. Don't get me wrong, I like the general story line and premiss. But and it's a big BUT, I was really hoping that Kim's character would leave the show and go to college or something far far away and not show up again. So it was with utter dismay that I see she is now working for CTU.
I mean c'mon, she's the epitome of the dumb blond who's every decision is wrong, drastically wrong, based on immaturity and just plain stupidity at times. It doesn't help that the script writers gave her character nothing to work on and promoted her awful character as nothing more than an irritating sideline taking up valuable air time.
Shame, this is likely to be the last Season I'll bother watching unless she happens to die.
Oh yeah, it's a little sad that every other characters script hasn't changed either... I can guess exactly what each one is about to say at any given situation and now that Jack is still Mr. 6 Million Dollar Man, Hulk, Spider man, Avengers, Superman, Kermit and Shelock Holmes all rolled together, I'm surprised that any other Agency exists and why CTU isn't really just a one man show.... he sure can't work in a team can he?