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Turning Back the Clock

28 Feb, 2008 By: John Latchem

With the seventh season of “24” pushed back because of the writers strike, fans of the show will have to wait until 2009 to get their fix.

Hoping to fill that void, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment May 20 (prebook April 23) releases 24: Season One — Special Edition, a seven-DVD set at $59.98.

“‘24' is one of our most successful series on DVD,” said Jyoti Sarda, executive director of TV DVD marketing for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. “Now that we are dealing with a maturing TV DVD environment, we thought it would be a good time to go back and revisit that first season and give the fans something they would want.”

The first-season set available since 2002 includes only six discs and is relatively light on extras compared to the subsequent seasons, which all include a seventh disc loaded with bonus material. Sarda said one reason for this is the first-season DVD was rushed into production to coincide with the second-season premiere. Another reason was that the TV DVD phenomenon was relatively new.

“Some of the things we put on these DVDs that are now seen as common just weren't done back then,” Sarda said.

New content includes the retrospective documentary “The Genesis of ‘24,’ five extended episodes, 25 deleted scenes, a never-before-seen alternate ending, episode-specific commentaries, two “The Rookie” online short films and a season-seven trailer.

Sarda said “The Genesis of ‘24’ gives Sutherland and other cast and crew members a chance to reflect on how the show has evolved since then.

“I think season one is a very special season,” Sarda said. “It's probably the most personal season.”

The original season features anti-terrorism agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) struggling to protect both his family and presidential candidate David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), at the same time working to uncover the conspiracy behind it all.

Sarda noted that the concept of a special edition is a classic marketing tool for movie DVDs, but hasn't yet been tried with TV shows. She said “24” presented Fox with a unique opportunity because of the popularity of the show and the existence of enough extras to fill a bonus disc. Season one also is the best-selling season of the show, accounting for 30% of all “24” DVD sales according to Nielsen VideoScan.

Sarda said Fox wanted to release the set to coincide with the seventh-season premiere, originally scheduled for mid-January, but the writers' strike ended those plans. Instead, the May release date opens a good sales window with Father's Day, and doesn't steal any thunder from the sixth-season set (released in December), according to Sarda.

This is a limited edition targeting the core “24” fanbase, Sarda said, but sales will determine if it eventually supplants the existing season-one set. The success of the “24” special edition also could pave the way for additional re-releases of TV DVD sets.

“I think this is an idea that has promise for any show that has a fan base and where a special edition can really include that extra value,” Sarda said. “It's rare to have enough material to put together an extra disc. Typically we put these kinds of extras in the complete series set.”

The set is packaged in a keepsake metal tin that includes letters from the show's creators, with discs stored in a cardboard accordion sleeve that mimics design elements from the original release.

“People are used to seeing ‘24' on shelves,” Sarda said. “This packaging is distinctive. It also is true to ‘24.’

Sarda is particularly fond of a countdown timer embedded in the cover that ticks down 24 minutes before resetting itself. The cover also advertises a $15 discount with the purchase of an additional “24” season set with the special edition.

Fox is cross-promoting the title with Langers Juice, putting $5 rebate coupons on 1 million Langers cranberry juice labels. Langers in turn is running a sweepstakes, with the top prize being a visit to the “24” set.

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