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24: Season 6 - Review

24: Season 6

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: All 24 Episodes On 7DVDs; Audio Commentaries By Cast & Crew On Selected Epsiodes; Featurettes; Prison Break Season 2 Episode 1; And Much More…

YOU’RE always toughest on the one’s you love. And having been a passionate follower of 24 through five excellent seasons (cougar episodes included), it’s with some regret to be writing that the sixth season of this award-winning series came as a massive disappointment.

Season 6 was always going to have its work cut out following the Emmy-award winning exploits of 5 (the one with the death of ex-President Palmer), but even die-hard fans will be hard-pushed to make a case for some of the events that took place.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the series, however, was its unwillingness to take the big risk needed to keep pushing it forward.

When we last saw Kiefer Sutherland’s CTU agent Jack Bauer, he’d been abducted and transported to China, in revenge for a past attack that had led to the death of their US ambassador.

The possibilities were positively mouth-watering. Would the ensuing series break with the format of having Jack save America and, instead, save himself? Would the landscape change from US soil to a foreign climate?

Sadly, no. Within minutes of the opening, Jack Bauer was back in the US and being asked to sacrifice himself in order to prevent yet another series of devastating terrorist attacks taking place on American soil.

The first two hours were typically explosive, as Jack set about preparing to honour his government’s request and pay the ultimate sacrifice.

But having hooked viewers in, the show rapidly veered off the rails amid a preposterous plot that involved rogue Bauer family members, massive nuclear explosions and heaps and heaps of graphic torture.

The political sub-plot also lacked the usual ability to grip, too, as Wayne Palmer (DB Woodside) took over White House responsibilities and inherited the same set of back-stabbing colleauges all seemingly intent on going to war at the earliest opportunity.

Indeed, the biggest problem with Series Six of 24 was that it seemed to be charting a lot of the same territory. Characters made the same mistakes, or found themselves faced with the same situations (countdowns to nuclear strikes on foreign land, moles in all the wrong places, petty CTU personal relationships threatening to overshadow the dramatic thrust).

But while previous seasons were allowed such indulgences because of the gripping nature of the central storyline, season six’s weaker plot merely served to highlight the show’s frailties.

And no matter how you tried to justify it, the plot strand involving Bauer’s evil father (James Cromwell) and brother simply lacked the power it might have held were the stakes made a little lower.

That said, there were positives to be taken from the series and die-hard 24 followers will probably want to own this box set for the sake of completism.

Kiefer Sutherland was still a compelling presence in the central role and, once again, excelled as the agent forced to confront his own loyalties and past in order to get the job done.

Former NYPD Blue star Rick Schroder also shone as fellow CTU agent Mike Doyle, bringing some nice complexity to his performance, and James Morrison once again stood out from the CTU operatives as nice guy Bill Buchanan.

Mary Lynn Rajskub’s acerbic Chloe also had her moments, even though she was under-used, and Peter MacNicol performed mircales with a somewhat stereotypical role as White House aide Tom Lennox.

The action sequences were also exciting and typically well choreographed (to blockbuster standards) and the season finished on something of a high with Bauer, once again, staring into the abyss (almost literally).

But while still essential viewing on a Sunday night, the overwhelming feeling to come from season six is that it needs to rethink the format in order to get back on top again.

The word on season seven is that the show is going to do just that, with a new woman in the White House and the disbandment of CTU just two of the changes being predicted.

24 has, of course, had to prove the sceptics wrong before. It has weathered the criticisms surrounding the amnesia storyline in season 1, survived the cougar attack of season two, and come back strong after the relative disappointment of season three, so don’t bet against Bauer’s return in season seven providing something exceptional.

For now, though, just don’t buy season six expecting too much. It’s still a great show but the pressure of topping its own highest standards is starting to show…

What do you think?