“24’s” fourth season was the acclaimed series’ strongest and most consistent to date. It launched with Chloe O’Brien the only familiar face at the completely reconstructed Los Angeles Counter-Terrorism Unit (recall the old one was destroyed in season three), and built as Jack Bauer and a number of other familiar faces rejoined its fold. It was the first season without Kim Bauer or Sherry Palmer. It was the season terrorists were successful in using a radioactive cloud to doom a large chunk of the U.S. population. It was the season of the secretary of defense’s hot daughter and her estranged husband, terrorist mastermind Habib Marwan, slow-thinking President Logan, supernerd Edgar Stiles, Soul-Patch Tony’s whore girlfriend, the return of Naked Mandy (who returned to cavorting nakedly), and Dina Araz’s season-defining cries of “Behroooooooooz!”
* The Season-Five Prequel (10:31), sponsored by Toyota, is set one year after season four and six months before season five. We learn whether or not Kim Bauer knows her dad is alive. It features a very different-looking Jack Bauer and a spectacular-looking Chloe O’Brien, as well as the bad guys driving what looks like a BMW as they chase Jack’s pretty silver Toyota.
* Documentary “Making The Scene” (7:25) examines the creation of Toyota’s 10-minute automobile-centric season-five prequel.
* Documentary “Breaking Ground: Building the New CTU” (17:43) follows production designer Joseph Hodges as he oversees construction of the new CTU set (remember that the old one was destroyed in season three). Learn that the frosting design on the set’s many windows, weirdly, is actually comprised of barcodes that spell secret messages.
* Documentary “Blood on the Tracks” (17:25) examines the making of the season-launching train crash. Learn that the original idea was to have two trains crash into each other. (Budget restrictions drove producers to instead have one train crash into a booby-trapped truck.)
* Documentary “Lock and Load” (20:10) looks at the making of the helicopter attack that rescues Jack and defense secretary Heller. Learn that the sequence employed the services of the U.S. Marine Corps.
* Director’s Cut of the Season Four Prequel (6:47), which appeared in shorter form on the season-three DVD set. Steamier love-scene footage is added to Jack’s bedroom encounter with Audrey Heller. Director Jon Cassar’s commentary track reveals the prequel represents the first “24” footage ever shot digitally.
* 39 (!) deleted or extended scenes (including one from 4.24 that reveals Behrooz survived his considerable ordeals). All 39 can be restored to the episodes they were excised from, and all 39 are also strung together on disc seven with audio commentary by director Jon Cassar. In length, they tend to run between 45 and 90 seconds each, and were typically cut because an episode was running long.
* Commentaries on 12 of the 24 episodes (including - get this! - one featuring “24” fanatic and “Beverly Hills 90210” actress Shannen Doherty, who asks things like, “Do the actors ever get sick of wearing the same thing every day?”):
7:00 AM – 8:00 AM: writer Joel Surnow and (the hilarious) comedian/actress Mary Lynn Rajskub.
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: production designer Joseph Hodges and director Jon Cassar.
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM: writers Stephen Kronish and Peter Lenkov.
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM: writer Evan Katz and Shannen Doherty.
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM: actor Nestor Serrano and writer Stephen Kronish.
8:00 PM – 9:00 PM: producer Tim Iacofano and actress Shohreh Aghdashloo.
9:00 PM – 10:00 PM: actor Roger Cross and director Bryan Spicer.
10:00 PM – 11:00 PM: director Bryan Spicer and actor Arnold Vosloo.
12:00 AM – 1:00 AM: director John Cassar and composer Sean Callery.
1:00 AM – 2:00 AM: producer Paul Gadd and sound mixer Kenneth Kobett.
4:00 AM – 5:00 AM: writers Matt Michnovetz and Duppy Demetrius.
6:00 AM – 7:00 AM: writer Robert Cochran and editor Scott Powell.
* 24 Conspiracy (25:30), comprised of 24 low-budget one-minute “mobisodes” created for mobile phones, is set in the “24” universe but deals with a D.C.-based CTU agent named “Martin” investigating the murder of a government agent. References are made to events depicted in “24’s” fourth season. Unlike the TV episodes, the mobisodes do not unfurl in “real time,” and cover a time span considerably longer than 24 minutes.
* “The Longest Day” (3:35), is a music video for a surprisingly effective track that remixes Sean Callery’s “24” theme into a dance track.
* “24: The Game” (3:17), is Kiefer Sutherland’s pitch for a 2006 videogame set between seasons two and three. We see footage of, among other things, Elisha Cuthbert providing the voice of Kim Bauer for the game (which, if nothing else, suggests to me she might be available for a surprise appearance in the show’s fifth season).
Its 23 mostly excellent first-season episodes are augmented only by an 8-minute documentary built around a new interview with series lead James Garner, who discusses private investigator Jim Rockford’s complexity, his $200-per-day fee, Garner’s love of cars and Rockford’s Pontiac Firebird, and NBC’s wish to cut back on the humor generally and on Stuart Margolin’s spongy grifter Evelyn “Angel” Martin in particular.
Character-driven and Emmy-winning, “The Rockford Files” was a Los Angeles private-eye series that feels like it might have been inspired by “Chinatown” - though the record shows Jim Rockford actually made his first TV appearance a few months before Jake Gittes hit the big screen. Rockford, like Gittes, was a man of his time. He lived and worked in a trailer off the Pacific Coast Highway, and he even used one of those space-age telephone answering machines.
Rockford, beloved for his irritable, pragmatic nature, chronic misfortune and understated quips, was the brainchild of two huge talents. Roy Huggins (1914-2002), having created “Maverick” in 1957 and “The Fugitive” in 1963, had already spent decades as a TV legend by the time he reteamed with Garner in 1974. Huggins, who crafted stories for “Rockford” under the pseudonym “John Thomas James,” was newly partnered was 33-year-old Cannell, a veteran of Jack Webb’s prolific Mark VII operation. “Rockford” was the first in a long, diverse string of hit crime dramas Cannell would create, a string that would include “Baretta,” “The Greatest American Hero,” “The A-Team,” “The Commish,” “Renegade,” “21 Jump Street” and “Wiseguy.”
It would have been fun to hear Cannell discuss what inspired Huggins to create Rockford in 1972, how Cannell fell in with Huggins and Garner and what inspired Rockford’s creation. (Huggins’ original plan, apparently, was to introduce Rockford on the short-lived ABC series “Toma.”) Also lamentably absent from this set is the original “Rockford Files” TV-movie pilot (co-starring a super-dishy Lindsay Wagner), which presumably delves into why Rockford spent five years behind bars at San Quentin for a crime he never committed.
Jim’s hot little lawyer-girlfriend, Beth Davenport, first turns up in 1.3.
“Beavis and Butt-Head” arrived on MTV in 1993, but it would take the channel seven more years before it found a way to turn crass, nihilistic idiocy into a reality show. Not as well-considered or consistently entertaining as the big-screen “Jackass” effort, the seemingly comprehensive and often hilarious Jackass: The Box Set collects Jackass Vol. 1 as well as the the not-yet-separately-released Jackass Vol. 2 and Vol. 3, as well as a 48-page book and a bonus disc. The language remains bleeped and the many naked genitals remain blurred.
Maddeningly chaotic group commentaries attend the first 59 of volume one’s 106 segments, the first 41 of volume two’s 93 segments and the first 55 of volume three’s 93 segments.
Volume one runs 91 minutes. Volume two 120 minutes. Volume three 117 minutes.
The bonus disc is divided into seven parts:
1) Gumball Rally (with commentary) (42:38)
2) Where Are They Now? (49:32)
3) Jackass Cribs (26:45)
4) VMA and Latin VMA Appearances (2:36)
5) Abduction (with Brad Pitt) (1:07)
6) Night Monkey 2 (with Brad Pitt) (1:52)
7) Photo Gallery (50 stills)
Back in 1989, when “Roseanne” was a Nielsen juggernaut and Tom Arnold was running the show, a recent college grad named Joss Whedon - who later went to create “Toy Story,” “Speed,” “Twister,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly” - wrote six of “Roseanne’s” 24 second-season episodes:
2.2 The Little Sister
2.4 Somebody Stole My Gal
2.10 Brain-Dead Poets Society
2.13 Chicken Hearts
2.16 Born to Be Wild
These were the first Joss Whedon teleplays ever produced. Roseanne: The Complete Second Season goes on sale Dec. 6.