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24: SEASONS FOUR AND FIVE
Enjoyable anthology of music from the show
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
After its lackluster third season, 24 was back on form in its fourth and fifth, with the continuing adventures of superhero Jack Bauer seeing him save the world on numerous occasions during the 24-hour periods in question, not to mention managing to make long journeys of several miles coincidentally take exactly the same length as a commercial break, regardless of what form of transportation is being used. With the fifth season benefiting further from the unintentional humour of the truly hilarious President Logan (though one assumes the resemblance to Richard Nixon, both in appearance and mannerisms, was not so unintentional) it really hit its stride.
Varese Sarabande had already released a CD of music from the show's first three seasons (all composed by Sean Callery), and now offers a second volume, predominently culled from the fourth and fifth, but with Callery also taking the opportunity of presenting a few tracks from his music from the computer game spinoff. It's one of those which opens the album, in face, with an orchestral version of the show's main theme. I don't know what it says about the state of television music that the scores for one of the medium's most expensive shows is done on a synthesiser, yet the score for its video game spinoff can afford a full orchestra. Regardless of that, it's great to hear Callery given the chance to work with an orchestra - much of his synth music for the show is done in a way which would obviously suit being played by an orchestra very well, so it's a pity he doesn't get to use one on the show (though in fairness, I don't know whether that is through choice, or genuinely down to budgetary reasons).
Having said that, the composer does make the best use of the tools available, and in the very first track after the opening title, "Colette's Arrest", there's some first-rate synthetic action music, with a John Powell-vibe. Unfortunately, the grand ideas Callery has sometimes are let down by only having electronics available to realise them - the conclusion of the dramatic "Logan's Downfall" (nearly seven minutes long - rare for a tv show!) would be so much better if it had real instruments playing it. For all the strides which have been made in electronic reproductions of orchestral instruments, nobody's yet come close to designing something which makes a synthetic string section sound decent.
Surprisingly, some of the album's best sections come in these more tender moments. "Jack's Women" is a lovely combination of themes written in honour of Jack's daughter and his girlfriend Audrey, which ends up being really rather touching; ditto "Lynn McGill's Sacrifice", a lovely accompaniment to one of the series' most dramatic moments. Of course, the music in the show is predominently action music, but this is a bit of a mixed bag - it all works very well within context, but not all works so well on album. One piece which certainly works is the fantastic "The Name's O'Brien - Chloe O'Brien", with its wonderful James Bondesque electric guitar licks; and the orchestral selections from the game are all excellent.
There's a Slavic tinge to "Airport Russians" which is impressively dramatic; and an excellent climactic action cue, "Jack Storms the Gas Plant", which lasts all of eight minutes. Overall the album is a bit of a mixed affair, though is probably more consistently entertaining than the first volume. In the show itself the music is unimpeachable (unlike the numerous US presidents who appear) - it just seems a bit of a shame that Callery doesn't get to show off his obvious talents with an orchestra.