EDITOR'S NOTE: I'LL BE WRITING ABOUT THE "LOST" FINALE TOMORROW, IN CASE ANY STRAGGLERS HAVEN'T HAD A CHANCE TO WATCH IT YET. SO PLEASE DON'T POST ANY SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION TODAY. -- TV GUY.
Two TV shows that had a major impact on how we've watched TV over the past several years wrap up for good tonight.
While I can't say I personally am a huge fan of "Law & Order" or "24," no one can deny the impact either series has had on the face of TV, nor their individual places in TV history.
As my brother will point out, I have been hard on "24" (Fox, 8 p.m.) over the years, even if I've watched most of the episodes. For me, it's a show where the viewer doesn't often see the forest for the trees.
What I mean is that fans get so wrapped up in the individual storyline and action of that episode, they don't look at the season as a whole and realize that that so much is piled into a season's worth of plotlines that it doesn't make a lot of sense in the end.
Still, when "24" was on its game, there wasn't a more exciting show on TV, and Kiefer Sutherland has set his own standard for action heroes in Jack Bauer. (And Mary Lynn Rajskub has done the same for sidekicks as CTU analyst Chloe).
For me, the flaw in "24" was the series' main structural model -- that each hour represents an hour in a specific day. It meant the producers had to keep stretching and stretching storylines and throwing in twists and red herrings and moles to keep the action going. Honestly, how many moles did CTU or the Secret Service have over nine years?
Tonight, Jack tries to get the evidence out into the media of the White House's involvment in a cover up in the assassination, taking on the current President (Cherry Jones) as well as former Pres. Charles Taylor (Gregory Itzin, one of my favorite villains).
Meanwhile, "Law & Order" (NBC, 10 p.m.) wraps up tonight with little fanfare for a series that tied "Gunsmoke" as the longest running drama ever, with 20 seasons.
NBC didn't make a decision until real late on "L&O's" fate, so the producers didn't have the time to do a proper series finale.
Unlike "24," which was a model for show's that used season-long story arcs for its plots, "L&O" was episodic in its nature, meaning individual episodes had little to do with what happened before or after a single show. Most episodes were ripped from the headlines, as writers put their own spin on real-life cops-and-courts dramas.
Few series could have survived the number of cast changes over the years, but "L&O" managed to find compelling actors and characters to replace those who departed.
Of course, it won't feel like the series is really gone, given the number of episodes that play in syndication, as well as the number of spinoffs the main show has produced.
Still, it would have been a nice gesture to fans of the long-running series to wrap it up on its own terms rather than outright cancel it. Hopefully, fans will get a TV-movie (a' la the NBC cop show I enjoyed much better, "Homicide") that brings things to a close.
MONDAY'S BEST BETS: Those two aren't the only series with season finales. "Chuck," (NBC, 8 p.m.), which thankfully will return, ends tonight with a two-hour finale in which Chuck (Zachary Levi) must face off against a former colleague (Brandon Routh), who has his own intersect in his head.
"Dancing With The Stars" (ABC, 8 p.m.) has its final competition before its final vote Tuesday night, and is followed by the season premiere of "The Bachelorette" at 9 p.m.
CBS wraps up its sitcoms, followed by a new "CSI: Miami" at 10 p.m.
On cable, "Saving Grace" (TNT, 10 p.m.) returns to wrap up its final season, while Showtime has new episodes of "Nurse Jackie" and "United States of Tara" from 10-11 p.m.