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John L. from WILLIAMSBURG, IA Reviewed on 9/18/2011...
My wife bought the six season set for my Christmas present. Every weekend for the next month I was glued to the recliner in front of the plasma... Six weekends of "24" marathon! What a great gift. Course, since I did nothing else for a month and a half other than watch the tube (no "honey-do's" done...), doubt that she'll do that again. Absolutely fantastic series.
Well worth watching, but more uneven than Seasons One or Two
Ron Cronovich | Kenosha, WI | 06/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Season three begins 3 years after season two. Jack Bauer has returned from a deep undercover assignment, where he infiltrated and won the trust of the Salazar brothers, two drug dealers with ties to terrorist cells. Jack's assignment ended successfully with the capture of Ramone Salazar, and the season begins with Jack paying a visit to Salazar in jail. At the same time, a mysterious van drops off a dead body at a National Health Services facility in Los Angeles. The body had been infected with a weaponized virus, and the delivery is clearly a signal that terrorists are threatening to unleash havoc in L.A.Are these two events connected? Jack has to find out, but he is struggling with an incredible burden that may affect his job performance. As in the previous seasons, Kiefer Sutherland again is exceptional, and easily worthy of the awards he's earned for his performance in 24. The third season brings back a few characters from Season Two, and introduces many new ones. Tony Almeida is back, and is running CTU side by side with Jack. Michelle Dessler, another CTU worker that was Tony's love interest in Season Two, is also back, and by the second half of Season Three, Michelle becomes a very important character. Reiko Aylesworth, who plays Michelle, really shines as her character takes on new importance and new responsibilities. And finally, Dave Chappelle, a by-the-book guy from "Division", returns from Season Two. Chappelle has the authority to oversee CTU, and usually disapproves of Jack's unorthodox methods. Chappelle played a minor role in Season Two, and does again in Season Three, except that he becomes the center of a particularly thrilling episode late in the Season. Season Three also sees the return of Nina Myers and Sherry Palmer, the two villians we love to hate. Nina's entrance into the storyline is too coincidental to be plausible, but you quickly forgive the writers for this, because her storyline is very good. If you are familiar with Jack and Nina's history, you will find the climax of Nina's storyline in Season Three to be thrilling. Both of these women are complex characters, and their relationships with their "men" (Nina to Jack and Sherry to the President) are complex and interesting.
Jack's daughter Kim is back, and is now working at CTU as a computer geek. It seems that Jack got her the job so that he could keep an eye on her and insure that she wouldn't get stuck in any mountain lion traps. The writers mostly avoid the mistakes they made with Kim's character in Season Two. There are new characters, I will only mention two. Jack has a new, young partner named Chase Edmunds. Chase is a young version of Jack, highly competent and willing to step over the line to get results. Chase also idolizes Jack, though events during Season Three will put their relationship to the test. The other new character is a young computer expert named Chloe. She has no social skills (she is frequently and unintentionally rude to her co-workers, and after a while this behavior gets to be a running joke), but Chloe makes up for it with exceptional skill at her job. There are many times when Jack, Tony, or Chappelle give her a near impossible task that would ordinarily take hours, but they need it done in minutes. Chloe always rises to the occasion. That's as much as I can tell you without giving anything away. Now, as to the quality of Season Three: There are some truly great episodes, and the plot has some really neat twists and turns. However, like most critics, I believe that Season Three is more uneven than Seasons One or Two, and has more episodes that are just "okay" rather than truly great. Still, Season Three is well worth watching, and I really respect the writers for reinventing "24" every season - they don't repeat the same formula every year, they work hard to come up with something new and different and exciting, and for the most part, they succeed. Another reviewer here said the season finale was lackluster. I respectfully disagree, I thought it was as good as the finale to Season Two. In order to appreciate the very last scene, you need to remember all the trauma that Jack has been through in this long day; viewers who didn't see every episode, or didn't remember everything, probably cannot feel the impact of the final scene. But if you watch Season 3 on DVD, you can see all the episodes without waiting a week or more between episodes, so you will remember everything and really enjoy the final scene. However, I agree with that reviewer's disappointment over the fact that Season Three brushes off major plot points from Season Two without satisfactorily explaining them - namely, the assassination attempt on President Palmer, and Jack's relationship with Kate. Clearly, the writers decided to abandon these storylines and wanted to wrap them up with minimal effort on their part."
The dark horse of 24
Joe Kenney | Dallas, TX USA | 08/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There are those who will tell you that Season 3 of 24 was a failure, a scattershot season of episodes with no clear direction or planning. Others will tell you that the season was perfect, the best the show's ever been, and that if you can't keep up with it, then that just means you're not intelligent enough to enjoy good writing.
Don't believe either of those people.
Season 3 is the best AND the worst of 24. Season 1 was suspense, Season 2 was action. The producers attempted to combine the two for the third season, and in many cases they succeeded. The final seven episodes are as tense as the first 13 of Season 1 (and that's saying something!), with a later episode in particular (in which main villain Saunders orders the death of CTU head Ryan Chappelle) ranking in as probably the best single episode the show's ever done. However, there was a very, very big problem with the third season of 24: the writers had no idea what they were doing.
This isn't idle speculation. The writers in fact admitted this, toward the end of the season, during a massive publicity push by Fox to get back viewers who'd faded away over the year. Let me ask you this: if you were a writer on a critically-praised TV show known for pushing the limits, with a viewing public who loves nothing more than to pick apart piecemeal the words and motives of each character, would YOU make up the story as you went along, off the top of your head? Well, that's what the 24 writers did. They merely planned out the first few episodes (up to the revelation of the sting operation), and after that they basically created the rest of the story on the fly. Occasionally this worked, but most of the time it didn't. Luckily, about 17 episodes in, they finally decided to get to it and actually plan the storyline, much as they had in Season 2. A pronounced improvement immediately occurred.
Here's the plot of Season 3 in a nutshell: It's three years after Season 2, and there's a fatal virus that might soon be unleashed on Los Angeles; Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) must go undercover to stop the plan within 24 hours. Sounds simple, but this story unfolds as if it has been written by Thomas Pynchon. Seemingly simple subplots spiral out of control, characters and their stories are introduced, given much screen time, and abruptly dropped, and the "real time" concept the show nailed so well in Season 1 is pushed aside. There's no way the events this season could happen in 24 hours. I'm not saying the events shown in Seasons 1 and 2 could have, I'm just saying that those two seasons were tight enough that you didn't mind. Not true here.
If you had to pick out one thing which represents the lost direction the season took, I would point you to the President Palmer storyline. In past, his part of the plot was usually the most dramatic, with Jack's storyline concentrating on the action. This season starts off promising, with the president still recuperating from the "test virus" he was given at the end of Season 2. We meet the President's new lady friend, who happens to be his doctor, as he prepares for a speech with a conniving political rival. We also meet Palmer's new Chief of Staff, his brother Wayne. But don't get too comfortable with this storyline. It's dropped hard. You'll also meet several other new characters who get heavy screen time, like Kyle Singer and Ramon Salazar. Salazar in particular is basically a co-star throughout the first several episodes. But just like that, these new characters are gone, not mentioned again. It's more jarring than I make it sound. Sure, previous seasons had characters pop up and disappear quickly, but never to the extent as seen in Season 3.
I keep hammering the negatives, but I don't intend to. It's just that I was so impressed with the previous seasons that it was a shock watching the direction the producers took in Season 3. But I want to make it clear that there are many good things about this season. The previously-mentioned final seven episodes stand out, and there are a few well-done action scenes scattered about. We also get a resolution to the Nina Myers storyline, which was overdue. That actually was another thing about Season 3 that upset so many 24 fanatics, the Nina fans in particular.
The suspense and tension rockets during the final episodes. There are two very nice action scenes that exceed anything the show has done: a helicopter attack on a building right before dawn, and a standoff between Saunders' men and CTU's SWAT teams. Another great thing about Season 3 is that Jack's daughter, Kim, is mostly out of harm's way. So there's no more of that useless "Kim's foibles" stuff going on, like the unending escapades she got into in Season 2. I do however wish that there was more emotional content this season. One of the great things about the second season was how character arcs would progress and resolve; I'm thinking in particular of George Mason's final scenes, and Jack's reunion with his daughter in the last episode. There really isn't much of that in Season 3, though the producers do attempt to reach those levels toward the end, with Tony Almeida's reunion with wife Michelle, and Jack's final scene in the last episode.
That brings me to Jack. In Season 1, he was an ordinary guy with a wife and kid, who when needed could turn into a superheroic man of action. Season 2 went even more into the superhero route, and I have to admit that I like the Season 2 version of Jack best. But in Season 3, he's just a mess. In the first episode we find out that he's hooked on heroin, and for the most part of the season, he verges on the edge of darkness. Seriously, Jack Bauer is mostly an anti-hero in Season 3. This is actually a good thing, as it shows the lengths he will go to protect his country. So don't expect any instances of Jack attempting to heroically save others, as he did his wife early in Season 1, and Kate Warner in Season 2. This season, Jack will kill ANYONE who stands in the way of his mission. Oh, and speaking of that heroin problem? It's yet another subplot that's set up in the first half of the season, only to be unceremoniously dropped midway through.
Acting is uniformly great throughout, especially Keifer Sutherland, who does a fantastic job portraying the emotionally-wrecked main character. Dennis Haysbert as President Palmer doesn't nearly get the chance to shine as he did in Season 2, but he's good regardless. James Badge Dale does good work as Jack's younger partner Chase, even though he isn't given many good lines or much of anything to do. Reiko Aylesworth however steals the show as CTU agent Michelle Dessler; she carries a few of the final seven episodes, and her acting range is excellent. Just makes it all the more startling that the producers announced at the very end of the season that Aylesworth (and many other actors) would not be returning in Season 4. Season 4 hasn't even begun production yet, so I can't judge it. But surely, has retooling a series EVER been a good thing?
In summary, Season 3 is not the choice introduction for this often-great series. It is, however, required viewing for those who enjoyed the previous seasons. Many lingering plotlines from the past are resolved, though a few are tantalizingly left open, of course. The production values are higher than they've ever been, and when the writers actually decide to plan ahead, the episodes can be stunning. I again refer to the Chappelle episode, as well as a flawless episode early in the season in which Jack must escape a prison that's under a riot. I've pointed out the stumbles here because I know the show can do better, and there are many, many instances in which it does so throughout Season 3. However, there are just too many missed opportunities to give it a perfect score, and that's a shame. "
24 Falters A Bit With Season 3 But Is Still Excellent
Jordan | Sacramento | 06/20/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"24 is by far my favorite television show of all-time. The first two seasons were the greatest roller-coaster rides that I have experienced in any medium of entertainment. So does Season 3 live up to the excellent standard set by those masterpieces? Not quite. The main problem with Season 3 is cohesiveness, or lack thereof. No season of 24 has ever been entirely written in advance. The first twelve episodes of Season 1 were, and that was not coincidentally the greatest stretch in the show's history. Although there was some weak transition into the second phase of the plot in Season 1, you still walked away from the whole thing feeling like it was one big story. Season 2 left you with a similar impression, perhaps even moreso than Season 1. Season 3 simply does not do this. When you're done with this, you get the impression that after the 8th episode or so, it was written as they went along, freehanded, which is most likely true. You leave with the feeling that you just watched three seperate stories only related by the solitary common factor of the Cordella Virus. As each new phase of the plot began, the preceding phase was almost entirely written out. Which brings us to the second problem, subplots. It appears that the writers, throughout the show's history, have always tried to have three seperate plotlines in play. In Season 1 they totally suceeded, with Jack's plot, Teri and Kim's plot, and the excellent David Palmer part of the plot. Past that, it hasn't been so good. Season 2's third plotline with Kim was unanimously considered to be the worst part of Season 2. In Season 3 things aren't a whole lot better. It seems the writers couldn't come up with a steady third plotline, so they had a variety of them, and boy are some of them terrible. Most (in)famous is the Chloe's Baby plotline. This turned out to be a gigantic waste of time over absolutely nothing, and like all of the third plotline subplots, it was pretty much never mentioned again once it was resolved. I realize this review has been entirely negative so far, and that really gives the wrong impression over this season. It was still GREAT. The main plotline was always moving at a fast, action-packed pace, if not a bit jaded as I mentioned before. The characters are very real, and the acting is great, particular Kiefer Sutherland and Dennis Haysbert, In the end this is an excellent series, but you'll probably end up wishing they had kept going with the plotline that was in place before Jack headed down to Mexico.(NOTE: Once the DVD set is release I'll edit my review to comment on the DVD features)"
Riveting! The Terror is Contagious!
Matthew Higdon | Oceanside, CA USA | 01/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
Thus reads the back of the boxed DVD set.
Fox's primetime hit series =24= has peaked new heights in edge-of-your-seat storytelling with its third - and best - season. Commercials provide the only pause, the only letup, in this colossally suspenseful terror-trip.
For those who would do so, there is no need to bash it for being less than perfect - nobody could expect absolute flawlessness from 980 minutes of television drama, no matter how refined. I will briefly mention the two foremost problems. (1) That so many events of such large and interrelated significance would take place, all within twenty-four hours, stretches probability way beyond the breaking point. (2) I have had the privilege of working occasionally with a substantial number of Spanish speakers; consequently, I can say that, for the show, the Mexicans should have spoken to and among each other always in Spanish, very nearly never in English (a problem with the Czecks in the first season as well). But the handling of the story is so very good that, understanding and accepting these and other minor flaws, most of us can suspend our disbelief.
Jack is back! - this time to stop terrorists from unleashing a weaponized virus into the American public. The quest to capture it takes him through twists and turns, to a Los Angeles prison, northern Mexico, run-down neighborhoods, a hotel, subway, and an elementary school. This time the threat is biological ... on a virtually unimaginable scale.
Since the series began in the fall of 2001, coinciding, as it would, with the awful tragedy of 9/11, the characters have become quite distinguishable, possessing interesting personalities, and colorful - if in some cases annoying - subtleties. Most of the acting appears quite convincing; as network dramas go, there is minimal contrivance. I shall go quickly through those at CTU and the president's company, first; followed by the terrorists, second. Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) has a secret this time, and he seems genuinely fearful of being exposed. We have a Tony (Carlos Bernard) who, not suprisingly, is down-to-earth, sometimes rigidly so, yet every now and then we see that he carries at his side a sense of compassion. Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth) has married, and though occasionally it doesn't look like she's handling things splendidly at first, we see quite the turnaround later. Kim Baeur works at CTU, not far removed from boyfriend Chase Edmunds, a newbie to the team. Those who like having Kim remain in the series but dislike the idea of her working for CTU should consider the alternative: Kim, on the outside, getting herself into further trouble. We watched this during Season One, then we were thrown the same KIND of thing in Season Two. Chase Edmunds is a tough guy; the more we see of him, the more we think, `Here is a would-be Jack'. Chloe (a quirky, annoying, protocol-wary technician), Adam (efficiency-loving), and Gaiel (cautious, ostensibly a mole) are new sign-ons as well. Finally, getting much more screen time than in Season Two, Regional Director Ryan Chappelle - a no-nonsense, give-it-to-me-straight boss. President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) remains the strong moral compass we grew to admire in the first two seasons. But this time, it's not just him dealing with interpersonal problems within his own campaign and the ensuing damage to the outside world. Here we see how he responds to new situations, posed by the competing political party (Republicans, we may say, given Sherry's Season One statement to that effect) toward his own campaign, as opposed to the press and personal staff adversaries of the earlier seasons. And later in the third, we come upon a nasty and inevitable dirty struggle between the president and his much-needed contributor, Alan, who tries to extort him. In the middle is Alan's wife, Julia, not wanting to get involved but eventually forced to. How will David deal with new problems that tempt new compromises, as his steadfast morality goes head to head with the convenience of relativism? Taking Mike's place as chief advisor is his brother Wayne, whose broader philosophy is at least faintly like, however much less devious than, Sherry's. She, too, is back ... with intent more malicious than anything we've seen from her yet.
Now, for the terrorists. In particular, Joaquim de Almeida does a terrific job portraying Ramon Salazar, the initially incarcerated leader of a north Mexican drug cartel. He looks, feels, and smells like a bad guy in every conventional way. His younger brother Hector is believable as a second-man in charge (even if the director should not have cast them as brothers; they don't `look' at all like family). Nina returns, escaping confinement in North Africa, and as we've seen what she is capable of in One and Two, it is not that difficult to imagine. Former CTU mole, conspirator in a domestic nuclear attack, and now buyer of a biological superweapon, Nina is more of a matter-of-fact `bad guy': a cold, sinister, `I-just-enjoy-this'-type killer. Michael Amador is an arms dealer, reserved in nature, and we think we know his intentions .... Alvers is a loyal agent in Stephen Saunders' plan, sent to distribute the virus in L.A. Saunders himself is the worst terrorist - a man with a single weakness - as he sets into motion a diabolical arrangement that more terrible than anything that's come before it. A final note: a teenager named Kyle Singer, while not a terrorist per se, constitutes part of the plan to deliver the package.
Several hours into the season, a drastic plot shift will hit most first-time viewers more or less like a freight train. As in One and Two, perhaps the best reason the bad guys keep falling is, well, they underestimate Jack. Consistently: from Hector to Jack's airplane guard to Ramon to Amador to Alvers and even Saunders. Nina seems to be the only exception ... which makes sense enough, given their past. (Sorry, I can't reveal what happens to her.)
I don't think I've ever seen one other network series attempt what =24= has. It would not be exaggerating, nor employing hyperbole, to say that if enough things went wrong over the course of trying to take and contain the virus, it is entirely possible that the vast majority of the WORLD's population might have perished, probably within several weeks. In no other show have I witnessed TV drama so carefully weave together a tapestry of plot and subplot, push the limits of suspense, raise the stakes as high - with so very, very many lives caught in the balance - or represent so tenacious, so persistent, or so very deadly-serious a counter-terrorist agent as Jack Baeur.
The DVD set contains six episode discs, as well as a seventh for commentary, deleted scenes, and other extras."
24 Stays Strong In It's 3rd Season
Alon Laudon | Israel | 07/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The third season of the hit Fox drama "24" opens with an ultimatum made to the LA Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) to free a prisoned drug dealer (Ramon Salazar, played by Joaquim de-Almeida) or else his brother, who has terrorist ties, will infect Los Angeles with a deadly virus.
Once again, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), who went undercover between the 2nd and 3rd season to arrest Salazar, co-siding with Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard), lead CTU to try to stop this virus. The tradition for office-affairs continue at CTU, as Kimberly Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert), who joined CTU as a computer analyst, has been dating her father's new partner Chase Edmunds (James Badge Dale). Also, during the 3-year time-frame Tony and Michelle Dessler (the magnificent Reiko Aylesworth) got married. President David Palmer (Dennis Hasbert) survived the failed assasination attempt, and is now campaigning for re-election. In the beginning of the season, it appears the format of the "day" will be similar to that of Season 2: trying to stop a deadly weapon before it's too late. Only this time the story is much more complex, and the plot thickens with each hour, with 24's famous surprising twists. The season's not perfect (as witnessed in the the baby sub-plot, and the Anne sub-plot), but I truly believe that as a whole, this season is the best one yet. The arc of episodes from the 15th episode up until the fantastic 18th episode, are all top-notch, with amazing performences from all actors, especially Reiko Aylesworth.The DVD features (commentaries by Kiefer, Carlos & co, deleted/extended scenes and 3 featurettes) look very promising, and so is the box cover, so there's no reason not to purchase this box-set."