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24: Season Two

Jack Bauer just can't catch a break. After he managed to prevent a presidential assassination attempt in the course of a single day (tragically losing his wife in the process), you'd think the CTU super agent (played by Kiefer Sutherland) might have been entitled to at least a few years of downtime. No such luck. Picking up just 12 months or so after the first season's big finale, Season Two of the groundbreaking real-time show 24 puts Jack right back in the middle of the action when terrorists make a nuclear bomb threat against Los Angeles. Despite the fact that he no longer works for the Counter Terrorist Unit, Jack takes the case at the personal request of President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), immediately putting his well-honed skills to work tracking down informants and following leads. Meanwhile, Jack's trouble-prone daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) hits some snags in her nanny job, the president's "allies" aren't all as loyal as they seem, Jack's fellow CTU agents do their own work to stop the bomb, and new character Kate Warner (Sarah Wynter) has some doubts about her sister Marie's (Laura Harris) fiancé.... To say much more than that would already be giving too much away; suffice it to say that the bomb threat is just the tip of the iceberg. 24: Season Two is an action-packed 24 episodes filled with just as many twists and turns as the first, and that many characters besides Jack, Kim, and the president are back for round two. The season isn't perfect, by any means — poor Kim is the victim of one too many silly side plots this time around, and even Jack treads awfully close to soap opera-quality story twists a couple of times — but for sheer adrenaline-rush TV, it's hard to beat. And addictive as hell; once that ticking clock grabs you, it's all over. Fox's seven-disc box set offers almost enough material to warrant calling it 48 instead of 24. Each episode (four each on the first six discs; the seventh disc is all bonus material) has its own menu, with scene selection options, audio choices (strong English 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 2.0 Surround tracks, with English and Spanish subtitles), and special features: Virtually every episode includes deleted scenes and alternate takes (indicated by a small "24" icon that pops up during playback), and each disc includes at least one episode-specific audio commentary with different sets of cast and crew members. Pop in Disc Seven and you'll find all of the deleted scenes collected together (this time with optional commentary), as well as a multi-angle scene study, a stunt featurette, and a candid, two-part behind-the-scenes look at the making of the final two episodes of the season. All of the features have potential spoilers, so save them for last. The anamorphic transfers (1.78:1) are excellent. Seven-DVD fold-out digipak with paperboard slipcase.
—Betsy Bozdech

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