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24 - Season Three Box Set (15)



Review: Jack Foley

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 22 deleted scenes which can be viewed independently (with or without commentaries) or branched into the episodes. Documentary: '24: On The Loose' (36 mins). Featurette: 'Boys and Their Toys' (7 mins) Featurette: 'Biothreat: Beyond The Series'. Multi-angle study.

HAVING enthralled viewers with two series of nail-biting tension, the writers of the third season of 24 always faced an uphill struggle.

Many viewers, restless at the prospect of having their patience (and nerves) tested towards the end of the second run, began to get twitchy and accused the show of 'jumping the shark'.

Yet, they may be eating their own words, once they've sat through the third series - which confirms that the franchise is alive and well.

Season 3 continues to tap into the very real fears that exist within society today - namely, the threat posed by terrorism.

Whereas, in season two, it was a nuclear bomb that set the clock ticking, season three's race against time finds Jack Bauer and his CTU colleagues racing to find a deadly virus that has the capability of wiping out a large amount of the American population.

Needless to say, the path towards the virus and its owners is frought with peril, incorporating desperate drug dealers, ghosts from the past, and double-cross after double-cross.

Set three years after the cliff-hanging finale of season two (and the latest attempt on President Palmer's life), the series kicks off with a virus-ridden body being dumped in downtown LA and the inevitable terrorist threat.

Enter Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), now a recovering drug addict attempting to hide his habit, who must contemplate releasing the very man he has spent the past couple of years putting behind bars.

To add to his worries, his daughter, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert), is now a CTU operative, and dating Jack's partner, Chase (James Badge Dale) - an affair he disapproves of, but struggles to control.

Across town, meanwhile, President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) has arrived back in LA for the first time since the assassination attempt and is preparing for a televised debate with his presidential rival.

Needless to say, the usual political intrigue surrounds him, from new girlfriends with shady pasts, to the ever-increasing theat posed by the virus and those who would seek to use it to control him.

Oh, and 24 wouldn't be 24 without the return of old adversaries, in the form of Nina Palmer (Jack's nemesis), and Sherry Palmer (David's Lady Macbeth of an ex-wife).

To reveal any more about the plot would be to ruin the enjoyment, for the ensuing adventure unfolds at a cracking pace, with all the usual cliffhanger endings and jaw-dropping revelations.

Criticisms could stem from the fact that the format may becoming stretched a little bit, while some of the wilder set pieces come at the expense of characterisation.

The middle section, also, will probably test the patience of some viewers - as the plot takes time to develop.

But the final third is nerve-shredding stuff, with surprise after surprise in store for even the most eagle-eyed 24 fan.

Suffice it to say, not everyone makes it and there is the usual shocking denouement - but isn't that part of the fun?

We dare you to take a toilet break while finding out...

Related stories: Season 4 review

Season 3 review

Season 3 - Kiefer Sutherland interview

Season 2 - review

Season 1 - review

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