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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Pergament No Longer Lost

This is Alan Pergament, formerly the TV critic at the Buffalo News.

After three weeks of so-called “retirement,” I’m back. My new blog is called “stilltalkintv,” which is the sequel to my Buffalo News blog, Talkin’ TV.

I was inspired to blog by two things.

The first was my annoyance about how my Time Warner Cable system now works. After shutting off the cable, TWC Channel 1 with YNN pops on my screen the next time I turn it on.

This is something that usually happens when you stay in a hotel. If I wanted to watch Channel 1 or YNN, I’d leave my cable box on those channels. I prefer to turn on the TV and watch the channel that I last watched before I shut it off.

You can see I am easily annoyed.

The second inspiration was the season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy.” A Facebook friend – Channel 4’s Lisa Flynn – thought it was the best season finale ever. So did many of her other “friends.”

I hated it. I thought it was a bloody mess, an excessively violent car wreck of an episode. In other words, it was intense and almost impossible to turn off despite how unbelievable and predictable it turned out to be.

If you missed it, a crazy guy out for revenge went around Seattle Grace Hospital shooting the surgeons involved in his dead wife’s case. Meanwhile, a Seattle SWAT team stood nearby doing next to nothing while the guy roamed the hospital and shot several staffers. Eventually, the former hospital chief walked in and soon was face-to-face with the shooter.

Seriously? The doctor can find the shooter, but the SWAT team hardly tried?

Predictably, the key characters of the show lived despite severe blood loss and the annoying new characters this season died.

I can’t say I was surprised that show creator Shonda Rhimes went the violent route. She did the same thing last year with “Private Practice” in a disgusting season finale.

I can suspend disbelief as well as anyone and understand why so many “Grey’s” fans were riveted. But it really was as disgusting as it was intense.

Now for something completely different: The series finale of “Lost” was almost everything one hoped it would be – emotional, romantic and spiritual. And when someone (Jack) was knifed, he eventually died.

Sure, not everything was answered or made sense. That isn’t the “Lost” way. I don’t want to give too much away, because it is obvious that many “Lost” fans are going to watch it on time delay. The 2 and a half hour finale only had an 11.0 rating on Channel 7. That means 11 percent of area households were watching the finale on the local ABC affiliate. I suspect the rating after DVR viewing will climb significantly.

The finale also stands to be more enjoyable on a DVR since it will be easier to skip all those darn commercials that extended the show by 30 minutes. Amusingly, several of the commercials were “Lost” parodies.

At 11:30 p.m., Eyewitness News predictably did a fan story that was out-of-date by the time it aired. The fans were interviewed before the end. Time may not matter on in the “Lost” world, but it still matters in the news world. If a station is going to do a story on “Lost” fans, it should at least do the interviews after the show ends and get timely reaction.

I did hear a local sports talk host say that now that “Lost” is over he will never watch reruns. Actually, it would be interesting to see “Lost” reruns just to determine whether they make sense now that the ending is known.

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