Stay Tuned
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Sunday, May 02, 2010

24 Days of "24": "It's going to be an epic week"

I used to close my eyes and sing through “24” promos so I wouldn’t find out what was going to happen. But I haven’t done that in a while—mostly because there haven’t really been any “24” promos.

I can tell you everything that’s going to happen on “Glee,” “Bones,” “Fringe” or “House,” but not “24.” They barely even show promos during NASCAR racing—whose fans are the show’s bread and butter. It’s more than a little frustrating.

Making it even more frustrating is all the love that ABC is showing the end of “Lost.”

I addressed that issue with Matt Roush, the senior TV critic at “TV Guide” last week when I asked him for his thoughts on “24.” Here was his response to that plus how he would like the show to end…

Regarding the end of the show, along with ‘Lost’: There's no way not to be sad to see two such iconic series go off the air at the same time. “24” and “Lost” have towered over much of the rest of regular network TV for years. They broke the rules in how TV shows look and how they're told and even how they're scheduled (with continuous runs airing from winter to May so as not to stall their momentum, and with no or very few repeats to break up the narrative flow).

It is really rather mind-blowing to think that fewer than 24 hours will separate the end of “Lost” on Sunday from the end of “24” on Monday. It's going to be an epic week, almost too much to bear. Both endings are major TV events, and I'm not sure one truly overshadows or blunts the impact of the other. To be fair, “24” has struggled this season and has been duly criticized (including in my columns) for it in a way that “Lost” has not, so “24” is not going out in the blaze of triumph we may have hoped. (Depends on what happens in these final weeks, but I have not enjoyed the most recent twist of President Taylor caving to Logan and turning on Jack; when will they ever learn.) The verdict is still out on “Lost”'s audacious flash-sideways gimmick, but the audience is still so caught up in the mystery and mythology and characters, and unlike “24,” “Lost” has been preparing for this end-date for several seasons now, so the perception that ABC is making a much bigger deal of “Lost” signing off than FOX is regarding “24” is only to be expected. “24” didn't make this call until relatively recently, so the buildup doesn't seem nearly as obvious. (Plus, where FOX is concerned, they're servicing a new hit in “Glee” and the ongoing “American Idol” phenom and may not want to dwell so intently on the end of “24,” whereas this is ABC's biggest and best story to tell in this final sweeps month). In both cases, it's clearly an end of an era, and both shows will be greatly missed.

Even if “24” isn't getting the kind of “event” sendoff that “Lost” is enjoying, I truly believe both shows will be seen as classics of their type and their finales are very big deals.

How do I want “24” to end? With Jack alive of course, prepared to face new adventures, possibly on the big screen in years to come, preserving the real-time format but telling its stories over a few (not 24) hours, which may actually come as a relief. Jack Bauer is very much a tragic hero, and with the death of Renee he has been denied a happy ending in that regard, but I would also like for the show to end with him feeling as if his efforts to save the nation and to preserve its values were worth it, that they are appreciated if not publicly acknowledged. This is not one of those seasons where I want to see him slink back into the shadows in an existential funk. But I'm also willing to adjust my expectations if they choose to go out with a big, chaotic bang. “24” rarely plays it safe, and if they want to surprise me, I'm OK with that, too.

Remember you can read more from Matt on the “TV Guide Magazine” website and by following him on Twitter.

Tomorrow, the 24 Days of “24” continue with some of my personal thoughts about the show…

Photo Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX