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24: Season 3

Fox // Unrated // December 7, 2004
List Price: $69.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted December 20, 2004 | E-mail the Author
The Third Season

If you would have asked me what I thought about the third season of 24 eight episodes into it, I would've told you it sucked. Why? Because the first third of season three feels a little too much like the previous seasons. In other words, it's really nothing new. It's the same old same old. However, it turns out that this is far from the truth, because the third season contains enough twists and turns (in the last two thirds of it) to make it almost as exciting as the earlier two seasons. In the end, while similar approaches are taken in seasons one and two, they are different enough that they are still very entertaining. I guess what works, works and the third season definitely works.

The same format found in the previous two season of 24 are used again. In it, Kiefer Sutherland stars as Jack Bauer. Bauer is you non-typical bad ass federal agent who works for the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU). Each season covers a single day, where Jack and many others go through an intense twenty-four hour period. This third season is the third long day, which occurs three years after season two. The basic story of this season surrounds a scary issue, bioterrorism. A manufactured viral agent threatens the wellbeing of the United States. This virus has the capability to kill a host after a mere twenty-four hours of infection. And to make matters worse, it is airborne and highly contagious. If released upon the general population, it would be a matter of weeks before the entire United States was infected. This terrorist threat reoccurs throughout the third season, but in different lights. The reason is that the story isn't what it seems to be. There are many twists and turns upon the plot, and it isn't until the last third of the season that the real plot is uncovered.

The third season also continues to focus on another aspect that comes from the President of the United States of America and his aides. Dennis Haysbert returns as President David Palmer, who is currently up for re-election. And surprisingly, being up for re-election is just as thrilling and exciting as how CTU handles the terrorist threat. Old faces return, like David's ex-wife Sherry Palmer. Together, they get stuck in a web of lies, deceit, and murder. It's an interesting development for David, because in the earlier two seasons he was such a pure and good guy. Now he returns in season three, with a dark side.

In general, the reason that the third season continues to be as successful as the previous seasons is because it continues to provide a wonderful mix of action, drama, and suspense. Although, the manner in which it is given does seem debatable in its realism. For instance, several of the characters work in CTU together and they have personal relationships, which are beyond friendship. In most critical government positions (and many corporations), you can't work with those that have you have significant personal relationships with (i.e. spouses, children, emotional relationships, etc.) The reason is that someone you are close to is more likely to look the other way if you do something bad and it happens a couple of times in this season. Another major kick of unrealism covers the human body. There are several instances when characters suffer near-death casualties, but manage to survive and within hours they are fully functional with only a bandage. Other elements of unrealism fall upon the twists and turns that are introduced. Things are introduced in storyline of the third season that are so damn extreme. Of course, they're still very intriguing.

Besides the realism factor, I had a difficult time with some of the characters. Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) returns in this season working for CTU. The problem is that her character is pretty pointless (at first). She doesn't really seem to add very much, exception her relationship with her father and a forbidden love with her Jack's partner. I say this because her role is pointless at first. However, as the season progresses, she seems to jump from clueless to smart and the transition seems unreal. Many other characters from earlier seasons appear in this season. However, most fit their roles fine. A couple of the new characters got on my nerves, I felt Jack's new partner, Chase Edmunds (James Badge Dale) was a bit too young for his role and CTU analyst Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) was outright annoying.

Overall, I feel that the third season has quite a lot to offer in terms of entertainment. The storyline unravels some very gripping content. However, it isn't an extremely strong season, as there is quite a bit that isn't absolutely amazing. The first third of the season tended to be pretty bland (as it felt like earlier seasons), but after that, there were enough gripping developments that I feel the third season is almost as good as the previous two seasons.

Episode Guide

1. 1:00pm - 2:00pm
2. 2:00pm - 3:00pm
3. 3:00pm - 4:00pm
4. 4:00pm - 5:00pm
5. 5:00pm - 6:00pm
6. 6:00pm - 7:00pm
7. 7:00pm - 8:00pm
8. 8:00pm - 9:00pm
9. 9:00pm - 10:00pm
10. 10:00pm - 11:00pm
11. 11:00pm - 12:00am
12. 12:00am - 1:00am
13. 1:00am - 2:00am
14. 2:00am - 3:00am
15. 3:00am - 4:00am
16. 4:00am - 5:00am
17. 5:00am - 6:00am
18. 6:00am - 7:00am
19. 7:00am - 8:00am
20. 8:00am - 9:00am
21. 9:00am - 10:00am
22. 10:00am - 11:00am
23. 11:00am - 12:00pm
24. 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Includes Deleted Scenes & Alternate Takes


The video is given in a beautiful 1.78:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color format. The picture quality is very good, providing a sharp and clear image. For the most part, it looks nearly flawless. However, there are times when the picture exhibits a slight grain, which becomes more noticeable during scenes filmed in a dark setting.

The language options include an English 5.1 Dolby digital track and a Spanish stereo surround track. Like most television series, the audio is dialogue intensive, which comes off very audible and sounds very clean and clear. For the most part, the dialogue does not take advantage of the surround sound setup. It focuses on the forward channels, and occasionally takes advantage of the left and right channels. The sound effects tend to take advantage of the surround sound setup and generally come off very rich and vibrant. There are also subtitles in English and Spanish.

The third season of 24 is jam packed with special features. The box set includes seven discs. The first six discs contain the episodes and also include audio commentaries and deleted scenes. The commentaries cover the following episodes: "3:00pm - 4:00pm" with Howard Gordon and Kiefer Sutherland, "5:00pm - 6:00pm" with Evan Katz and Riley Smith, "10:00pm - 11:00pm" with Howard Gordon and Sarah Clarke, "1:00am - 2:00am" with Joel Surnow and Mary Lynn Rajskub, "5:00am - 6:00am" with Robert Cochran, Reiko Aylesworth, and Carlos Bernard, and "10:00am - 11:00am" with Carlos Bernard, James Badge Dale, and Tim Iacofano. They are great for the fans. The deleted scenes can be accessed during the episodes that have them (they are listed in bold in the episode guide). For the episodes that have them, you have the option to watch them at the point during the episode when they were intended. The deleted/alternate scenes are also found on the seventh disc (which is dedicated to bonus features). When accessed on disc seven, they can be viewed with commentaries from Jon Cassar, Howard Gordon, and Michael Loceff.

The majority of the special features on disc seven are featurettes. There are a total of four featurettes. The first is "24: On the Loose (32:17)", which is a behind the scenes featurette that covers the making of season four. It includes the perspective from the cast and crew, with a strong emphasis on the extras. "Boys and Their Toys (11:28)" is a behind the scenes perspective covering the borrowing, setup, and use of F-18s fighter planes from the Department of Defense in the series. The next featurette is "Biothreat: Beyond the Series (24:35)", which is a look into the development and research of creating a believable virus to use in storyline of season three. The final featurette is "Multi-Angle Study (6:11)" which is an examination of the midnight shootout from episode 12 (12:00am - 1:00am). You can view various takes from two different cameras or both cameras at once. Also found on the seventh disc is the "Season 4 Teaser (2:15)" and "Season 4 Promo (6:31)" and a trailer for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in their upcoming movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Final Thoughts:
Overall, I felt that the third season of 24 was done very well. The entertainment and replay value are high. However, the third season does not have the same high-pace gripping feeling that the first season had. I personally feel that the first season was the absolute best of the series, with seasons two and three right behind it. Fans of the series should be more than happy with this season and newcomers (if you skip the earlier seasons, not recommended) should still be able to enjoy season three.

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