Good, hour long TV shows are definitely a tough sell. Whenever some comes up with a new gimmick or new setting for a show, everyone else begins to copy the mold. The market gets saturated and hour long shows give away to half-hour sitcoms. Drama TV with real life settings and real lift situations are all the rage now, but to me they are all similar now. Cop show this, investigator show this, blah, blah, blah. It is all rather boring me. When I first read on a new hour long show that takes place real time, I was intrigued. Having it work on one 24hr period is a great idea, and I was very curious to watch it. I saw the pilot and was very impressed. Given the setting, the actors, and the various parallel plotlines, it is easily obvious what a good show 24 is. 24 delivers in every aspect, it simply is good TV. Unfortunately I don't have a Tivo, so I missed episode 2 and decided to give it up on the show because I figured I had missed too much. Thankfully a DVD box set came out of season 1 and I have had the opportunity to catch up on what great stuff I missed.
Though shown on broadcast TV in 4:3, 24 was actually shot in widescreen. The DVD set has the widescreen version of the show, letterboxed to 1.78:1 and of course it is anamorphic. The resulting image is quite good overall. The image is sharp with rich detail, giving the show a nicely three-dimensional look. Color and contrast are also terrific. Some negatives though are evident. First is the compression. With four episodes per disc, that means the compression is high. Plus the look of the show is a nightmare for good compression, but they did an excellent job here. The end result is the show looks less like film-like. Some light dirt and specs are evident in a few shots, but again a small negative. Another item which some may fine fault with is the split screen shots. As they were framed to fit right for 4:3 broadcast, on a widescreen TV, you will have a lot of empty space on the sides during these shots. Again this is not a huge issue, but it looks odd when you have the full picture and then you basically got a 4:3 frame in the middle. The positives far out weight the negatives; Fox really did a nice job with this set. Too bad they did not put chapter stops in the individual episodes though. Means you better watch an entire episode or you will have to do some ff/rew to get back to where you were.
A Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is included for 24 on DVD. Too bad no 5.1 mix, as so much is going on in this show that could have benefited from a 5.1mix. The 2.0 track though is very energetic and well above par in comparison to the numerous other 2.0 tracks out there. Nothing here will blow you away, but it does work well for the show. Bass though is a bit lighter than I would have hoped for given the many explosions and shootings. Guess the limits of TV show budgets have to taken into consideration here.
Given the rush to get this box set out before season 2 begins airing, the lack of supplements is pretty forgivable. All that you get here is an alternate ending that comes with a commentary track explaining why it wasn't used, if you want to hear it. There is also a short moment with Kiefer explaining some things about the show and his character. A nice booklet that includes an episode guide is found in the many folds of the box set.
24 on DVD is a testament to good TV. It is all the better in my eyes in that I did not watch the show during broadcast and am now getting to cram it all in before season 2 begins. Being able to watch the entire season in a quick time space really works well for the drama of the show. I can't even imagine having to wait a week for the next hour of the show, as you just can't remember every little detail. Seeing it all at once keeps everything fresh in your mind. The DVD set is a nice little setup, with excellent video and decent audio. The lack of extras might disappoint some, but keep in mind how quickly this set came out. Very likely some extras of note will show up for the season two set.