24 Season 4 -More Holiday Gift Goodness

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Warning! Minor spoilers ahead!
Season 4 of the compelling and often heart-stopping series 24 was a return to form over the annoying and often silly season 3. The viral terrorism of that year was significantly less compelling than last year’s nuclear threat and as an added bonus, no Kim Bauer! While Elisha Cuthbert is as adorable and sexy as they come, her character was underwritten, whiny and dumber than a box of hammers. Apparently, she’s back in the upcoming season 5 and here’s hoping she’s a better character.

With season 4’s cast of characters, however, it’s a whole new world. First of all, Tony‘s back! Fresh from the shortest treason prison term in recorded history (something was muttered about a presidential pardon) Tony is bitter, angry and shacked up with a barmaid floozy but manages to pull his head out of his ass in a few hours to get the old team back together (Fuck Chase, too. He was another big whinger and he and Kim deserved each other).
Throw the delightfully socially retarded Chloe, the super computer analyst with the confidence of a wet napkin Edgar Stiles (his last name was repeated so much I was beginning to think it was important…it wasn’t) and the wacky Araz family of sleeper terrorists into the mix and you’ve got yourself a great new season of 24, although Araz son Behrooz comes a close second to the Kim-Chase pair on the whine-o-meter. So your father (an extremely menacing Nestor Serrano) had your girlfriend killed, boo hoo! Pull yourself together and get on with your job to murder millions of American infidels, dammit!
As far as the discs and extras go, the sound is of course a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and letterboxed, as it is when broadcast. Clearly the number one attraction on the extras is the season 5 prequel and this one is, at 11 minutes and 21 seconds, a pretty long one (although there’s over a minute of the new series’ URL over a black screen at the end). Trying to avoid any spoilers, I’ll just say that it involves: a year, Chicago, Jack with a haircut like the brain-damaged guy from Oz, a kinda hot Chloe (no, I’m not kidding but yes, she still squints a lot) a hoodie, and a nice shiny new Toyota. (A prequel’s gotta have a sponsor, yo!)
While the prequel is nice, the set has a hell of a lot more to offer, including a copious amount of deleted scenes that can be viewed either individually or branched into the actual episodes. While this is a handy feature, it can be a little jarring and to be honest, not all of them are necessary, so if you’re coming to the season for the first time I would suggest watching the episodes as they aired and then watching the deleted scenes, which in addition to being on each disc with the appropriate episodes, are also all collected on disc 7 with the other extras.
Commentaries are again plentiful but echoing a trend in DVD commentary tracks, are pretty short on cast members and no Kiefer. Hell, there’s even a track with commentary by Shannen Doherty (http://imdb.com/name/nm0001147/) who has absolutely nothing at all to do with the series but you know what? It works. It’s kind of fun to hear the thoughts of a fan who’s also a working actor.
Other disc 7 extras include an alternate director’s cut of the season 4 promo which is, ahem, a lot steamier than the one used by Fox, several interesting behind-the-scenes segments, including one with main series director and exec prod. Jon Cassar that showcases the actual US Marine extras that performed the maneuvers involved in rescuing Heller and Audrey, a look at the train crash that opens the season and one with production designer Joseph Hodges, art director Andrew Murdock, Cassar and various other crew members about the design and manufacture of the new CTU which, if you’re at all design-oriented is extremely interesting.
Specs and extras on the disc include:
Subtitles: English, Spanish; Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.1 Surround)
Exclusive Season 5 Prequel Bridging Seasons 4 & 5
Cast/ Crew Commentary on Selected Episodes
39 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
Various “featurettes” – I still HATE that fucking “word.”
“24: Conspiracy” Cell Phone Mobisodes – Kinda fun, actually.

Previous Holiday Gift Guide Entries:
A DVD For The Kiddies: The Fantastic Four
All I Want For Christmas Is The Buffy Set – The Rabbi’s Holiday Gift List Continues
The Rabbi’s Holiday Gift List: Office Space & Murder One
The Rabbi’s Holiday Gift List – Edward Scissorhands: 15th Anniversary Edition

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Region 1 buyers:
24 – Season 4

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