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One of the downsides to living in South Florida is that because the latter half of a season of Fox's action-adventure/soap opera 24 coincides with the start of our rainy season, weather can and does prevent its fans from watching episodes when thunderstorms are nearby on a Monday night.
Unfortunately, this is what happened on the night of May 18, 2009, the night Fox broadcast the season finale of 24; an early evening thunderstorm swept by close to us, with lots of heavy rain and, more important, lots of lightning. This forced us to turn off our TV set about 20 minutes into episode 24, 7 AM to 8 AM.
What to do? Fox once tried to air - ineptly - reruns of the series which stars Kiefer Sutherland as ex-Federal agent Jack Bauer on Friday nights in 24's fifth season, but because the network did it so badly (skipping several episodes from week to week, thus marring the concept of the series), no one really watched. Thus, reruns were not a viable option.
The only other alternative was to buy the Season 7 set, which had been rushed out - a bit prematurely in some respects - to coincide with the May 18 series finale. I knew this was so because I tend to go to Amazon regularly and it was being marketed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment under the slogan "Don't wait another second to bring home the excitement of Season 7 of 24!"
Normally, I'd have waited for the fall months to get my 24 DVDs, but considering that we'd been watching the show regularly (with the exception of the time when Mom and I forgot that Fox was going to air two back-to-back episodes in March) and missed half of the season finale, I decided to order both 24: Redemption and 24 - Season 7 so we could watch the whole Sangala/Starkweather storyline in as seamless a manner as possible.
Set four years after the weak storyline of Season Six and several months after 24: Redemption, Jack Bauer is in Washington, DC, having been served with a Senate subpoena during his reluctant departure from the (fictional) war-torn African nation of Sangala.
As Day Seven gets under way, Jack is being questioned by Senator Blaine Mayer (Kurtwood Smith), a well-intentioned (and perhaps ambitious) politician who wants to undo some of the harm done by America's war on terror, especially that caused by the use of enhanced interrogation techniques by ex-agent Bauer and his colleagues at the now-disbanded Counter Terrorist Unit.
As Jack is submitting his testimony, FBI special agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) arrives, informing the obviously annoyed Sen. Mayer that the Bureau urgently needs Bauer's assistance on a highly sensitive matter.
Once in the Bureau's headquarters at the J. Edgar Hoover Building, Agent Walker and her clearly reluctant superior, Larry Moss (Jeffrey Nordling) enlist Jack to assist the FBI in tracking - and perhaps capturing - ex-CTU agent Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard), who has apparently turned rogue and is assisting terrorists intent on harming the U.S.
Meanwhile, terrorists linked to Sangalan Gen. Juma (Tony Todd) and his right-hand man Col. Ike Dubaku (Hakeem Kae Kazim) have gotten their hands on a firewall breaching gizmo known as a CIP Device. With it, they can hack into any computer network, including the Federal government's major agencies' supposedly secure ones, and disrupt air travel, cause all sorts of industrial "accidents" or worse.
This CIP Device is the keystone to the efforts of Gen. Juma and a shadowy group of American co-conspirators - the latter apparently led by Jonas Hodges (Jon Voight) - to blackmail new President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) to cancel an U.S. invasion to remove the Juma regime from Sangala. And to achieve this goal, Juma, Col. Dubaku and Hodges are willing to do anything - whether it's interfering with domestic air travel to killing Henry Taylor, the First Gentleman (Colm Feore).
For Jack and Agent Walker, this long day will involve finding out whether Tony Almeida is a terrorist or not, trying to stop a complex series of attacks by Juma and his henchmen, and discovering why the Blackwater-like Starkweather Company is seemingly in bed with foreign and domestic enemies of the United States.
My Take: Although I still think that the best season of 24 was Day Five, I agree with carstairs38's view that the writer's strike that delayed the seventh season by 10 months provided the producers and writers with a grace period to come up with a fresh approach to the show.
As anyone who has been watching the series from its introduction in 2001 will admit, as good as the acting and as exciting its action sequences both are, 24 had been getting a bit stale, particularly after its narrative peak of Season Five. There are only so many times viewers can be asked to believe that an anti-terrorist agency can be infiltrated by moles or physically attacked, and while Season Seven never fully rids itself of this "24-ism," the fact that CTU is temporarily disbanded and that the story is not set in Los Angeles is refreshing.
I also like the fact that Season Seven seems to be a transition point in the narrative which resolves some of the strands of the previous six "days" and forces Jack Bauer to examine his past and re-evaluate his future.
As a reviewer, I think that the cast changes and inclusion of new writers (including Star Trek: The Next Generation veteran Brannon Braga) gives Season Seven a sort of "reboot." As in Season Five, some familiar and fan favorites are bumped off, while new faces, particularly those of Annie Wersching (a hottie!) and Cherry Jones (the series' first woman President) add a new and refreshing dynamic to a show that was beginning to lose dramatic steam.
The one bit of business I did not enjoy was the storyline involving the President's daughter Olivia (Sprague Grayden). She's easy on the eyes (okay, she's another hottie), but she wavers between being a feminine version of H.R. Haldeman and a young woman who seeks to do what she can to help her mother's political agenda. I did not hate her character and understood her motivations, but I also did not think that her storyline was necessary.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older