For TV viewers, this is a great and awful stretch.
The good news includes key shows every night -- the "Lost" finale tonight, the "24" and "Law & Order" finales Monday, the "American Idol" finale Tuesday and Wednesday, plus the season-openers of two of the key summer shows, "The Bachelorette" (Monday) and "So You Think You Can Dance" (Thursday). The bad news is ... well, no more "Lost" and "24." Ever.
There will be separate stories on these in some papers. (Also, check my previous blogs for "Idol" stories, including a peek at the finale.) For now, however, here's an overview I wrote about the big week:
By MIKE HUGHES
In one overstuffed stretch, our TV's
will be full of endings and beginnings. On May 23-27, that brings:
– The season finales of the two
top-rated series, “Dancing With the Stars” and “American Idol.”
– The season openers of two key
summer shows, “Bachelorette” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
– And the final episodes of two shows
that changed television – “Lost” and “24,” plus one that lasted almost forever, "Law & Order."
That last one didn't have a chance to plan a finale. By comparison, "24" made some adjustments when it decided not to return.
“There is a final moment that is very, very specific to the series
finale,” said producer Howard Gordon. “It (provides) a
And it wraps up an era when producers
tried some new things.
First was Fox's “24” in 2001,
spreading each story over a full season. Then ABC's “Lost” showed
up in 2004, daring to leap between time frames, between continents,
even between realities.
“It proved that you could do
serialized shows that were going to be challenging to the audience,
that people could invest in,” said Stephen McPherson, the ABC
That worked partly because both shows
had rich production values. “Lost” became “a gigantic movie,”
McPherson said; so did “24” … which is, in fact, planning a
movie version next.
And it worked because of scheduling
decisions: “Lost” and “24” skip reruns; they cram all the
episodes together into the second half of the season. And they
promised viewers an ending.
“Lost” was allowed to wrap up with
three seasons, totaling 48 hours. That provided time to plan and
alter. The only thing the producers promise is that it won't be a
safe or simple ending.
“I don't think it would be 'Lost' if
there weren't sort of an ongoing and active debate … as to whether
or not it was a good ending,” said producer Damon Lindelof. “(Some
will) say it's the worst ending in the history of television. And,
hopefully to balance them out, my mom will …”
Meanwhile, “24” has managed to
deliver a big ending at the end of each season. “Any number of
seasons in years past … could have been a really, really cool
series finale,” Gordon said.
Along the way, Jack Bauer (Kiefer
Sutherland) has been battered physically and emotionally.
“You feel the accumulated scars of
his experience and the weight of his actions for eight years,”
Gordon said. “Jack has never been able to sort of snap back.”
This year, the show dangled a love
interest (Renee) in front of him, then killed her. That set him on a
rogue path, against the two women who have been his trusted allies,
Gordon said. It became “Chloe versus Jack versus President Taylor.
We're taking all these characters to places that we've never seen
them before. We knew it constituted a risk.”
Everything about these shows is risky,
of course. There's repetition (Jack dying and being revived, his
family being kidnapped and escaping); there are miracles (conquering
And there are wild stretches of logic.
This year, a felon hid her identity and got a high-security job.
“Even when these moments felt
somewhat preposterous or strained,” Gordon said, “hopefully, they
were always interesting. Even if you wanted to sort of yell at the
Much can seem strained, when heroes
become villains on “24” and Locke becomes a smoke monster on
“Lost.” Still, the shows were big and bold; soon, they'll be
– Sunday (May 23): “Lost” finale,
9-11 p.m., ABC, with recap, 7-9.
– Monday: “24” finale, 8-10 p.m.,
Fox; “Dancing With the Stars,” 8-9 p.m., ABC; “The
Bachelorette” (Ali Fedotowsky) season-opener, 9-11 p.m., ABC; "Law & Order" finale, 10 p.m., NBC.
– Tuesday: “American Idol,: 8-9
p.m., Fox; “Dancing” finale, 9-11 p.m., ABC, with recap, 8-9.
– Wednesday: “Idol” finale, 8-10
– Thursday: “So You Think You Can
Dance” season-opener, 8-10 p.m., Fox