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Network television's most exciting series ends with a bang--a lot of bangs, in fact, along with multiple bams, whams, and booms---as 24 bows out with this six-disc set of episodes from its eighth and final season. As the action begins in New York City, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), now a grandfather, has retired from his gig at the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) and plans to move to California to be with his family. Yeah, right. When he learns of a plot to assassinate President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor) of the mythical Islamic Republic of Kamistan--who's set to join the U.S. president, Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones), and the Russian leader at the United Nations, where they will sign a… historic agreement that will end Kamistan's nuclear program and bring lasting peace to the Middle East--Jack leaps right back into the fray. Needless to say, the plot thickens faster than the pools of congealed blood he inevitably leaves in his deadly wake. Who's behind the assassination scheme? Is it Hassan's power-hungry brother, who has no desire to give up his country's nukes, or is he in cahoots with bigger, more sinister forces? Are there even CTU operatives involved in these dastardly machinations? Can Jack trust a single soul other than himself? That he will get to the bottom of all of this (or the top, as a central conspiracy reaches to the very highest government levels) is a given. That he will indulge in some questionable tactics to do so, including cynically using his allies and brutally torturing his enemies (depicted in some intense and rather graphic scenes), is also expected, especially as his relationship with a disgraced former FBI agent (Annie Wersching) ups the personal ante for him to the point of near-madness. Whether he will survive this particular day intact, however, is another matter entirely. The makers of 24 have already shown that they're willing to go way over the top to preserve the central conceit (an entire season takes place in a single day, with each episode consuming one hour of that day), and the eighth season is no different. Plot twists that defy all credibility are not uncommon; there's no time to track down rumors or verify information, so the action tends to proceed in almost cartoon-like fashion. Many characters make cardboard look sturdy, especially the bad guys (a bunch of arrogant fools, craven traitors, and murderous louses). But that's what has made the show so addictive; it simply hurtles along, leaving no time to ask questions. And while the adventures of Jack Bauer, the ultimate one-man army, appear to be over for good, this season makes us wish that a day were just a bit longer then 24 hours. Bonus features include some extended episodes, "scenemakers" (detailed looks at certain scenes) for the majority of episodes, deleted scenes, and more. --Sam Graham