"24" (Fox, 9 p.m.) fans, you better take in all the Jack Bauer you can get. Fox made it official over the weekend, saying this would be the show's last season.
The producers did leave the door open for a movie spinoff, but said they had basically run out of ideas for future seasons. Considering all of the moles, torturing and questionable Presidential decisions over the past nine years, one might argue that they ran out of ideas seven years ago, but that's beside the point.
I've heard even strong "24" fans complain about this season being basically a retread of ideas from previous seasons. The "twists" are telegraphed to the point that they are no longer surprises or twists.
As Jerry Seinfeld used to say, "always leave them wanting more." It's better to go out a season too early than a season too late, but "24" is hardly alone among series that held on too long because the network was making too much money from them. "ER," "Friends," "Law & Order" etc. also were in the same boat, too profitable to end, but also having stayed too long.
That's why I think more shows should be like "Lost" or various cable shows: Have an ending in mind and work to it. If the show is successful, for example "Burn Notice," you can keep doing episodes while the concept remains fresh. But my guess is that producers will resolve the main story arc -- who burned Michael Westen and why -- when the show is no longer fresh. Jack Bauer might have taken a lesson from his fellow spy.
MONDAY'S BEST BETS: "Castle" (ABC, 10 p.m.) wraps up its excellent two-parter featuring guest star Dana Delany, following "Dancing With The Stars."
"Chuck" is brand-new, followed by "Trauma" and "Law & Order." On the CW, there's a new "Life Unexpected" and "Gossip Girl," beginning at 8 p.m.
"Damages" (FX, 10 p.m.) throws out another big twist tonight surrounding Ellen's background, while Showtime features new episodes of "Nurse Jackie" and "United States of Tara," beginning at 10 p.m.
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