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Pardon Me, But "24" Ends with a Thud

Jack Bauer lives another day because of an unofficial presidential pardon that will enable him to make a “24” movie.

The series finale Monday of the Fox series was as silly as much of the episodes earlier this season that made it clear that it was time for Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) and Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) to stop saving the world.

After redeeming itself late in the season with some riveting episodes, Monday’s two-hour finale of “24″ ended with a thud as President Taylor’s (Cherry Jones) unholy alliance with ethically-challenged former President Logan (Gregory Itzin) to broker a peace treaty unrivaled over a data card.

The card – which contained details of a cover-up involving the murder of a Middle Eastern leader ordered by a Russian president – never got in the wrong hands long enough to do any harm to President Taylor.

But after listening to a Bauer video, President Taylor finally realized the error of her ways, took the fall and, for her final act before resigning from office, committed one more crime: She gave Jack – who went rogue and committed countless murders and unspeakable tortures during the season – a head start to get out of the country.

As silly as the resolution was, the final moment between Jack and Chloe – who were separated by miles but brought together by technology — was as sweet as some of the “Lost” reunions Sunday night.

“I never thought it would be you cover my back all these years,” Jack told Chloe.

“Good luck Jack,” replied Chloe, tears streaming from her eyes just before the final image of Jack looking up at a satellite camera that relayed his image to Chloe.

“Shut it down,” said Chloe, talking about the satellite and the series.

If this tortuous season proved anything, it was time to shut “24” down.

Monday also was the night that NBC decided to shut down “Law & Order” after 20 seasons with an episode about a disgruntled teacher who plotted a terrorist school attack as revenge for how he was treated before he was fired. The episode managed to be sympathetic to teachers at the same time it attacked their union.

District Attorney Jack McCoy (Sam Waterson) got to display some Bauer-like anger at the union lawyer who seemed more concerned about protecting teachers’ rights than saving hundreds of students’ lives.

In the moving final scene, viewers learned that Lt. Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkenson’s character) is engaged and got good medical news.

If the episode didn’t play like a series finale, it is because NBC didn’t cancel it until a week ago, thereby preventing it from breaking the record of “Gunsmoke” as TV’s longest-running drama (They tied at 20 seasons).

Based on economics, the decision wasn’t a big surprise since there are already so many “Law & Order” episodes in syndication that new ones don’t do much financial good and viewers have aged with the series.

But one prominent producer recently told me that some members of the creative community were still surprised by the cancellation. There had been a theory that not even NBC executives were so stupid that they wouldn’t give the series a send-off with eight more episodes next season to break the “Gunsmoke” record. The episodes also could have been promoted to death and led to a big event finale.

Right now, NBC appears to have been that stupid. But maybe the executives will wise up and eventually at least give producer Dick Wolf a deal to make a two-hour movie to end the series.

Channel 2 today announced the hiring of Christie Witt as the traffic reporter for “Daybreak.” She also will be a web producer. Witt is a graduate of Medaille College and is about to complete her master’s degree at Syracuse University. A former Channel 2 intern, Witt will start her new duties in August. I’m sure she will do well but I won’t be reviewing her on-air work. That’s because it would be hard to be totally objective. She was a student (and a very good one) in a course I taught at Medaille.
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