Critic's NotebookFinales, fast and furious, force choices on viewers
By Rick Kushman Sacramento Bee
TV Columnist Monday, May 21, 2007
This is the last week of the broadcast TV season, which means the last big finales, the song and dance winners, and tonight, the last chance for our heroes to step up.
It's showdown time on NBC's "Heroes" and Fox's "24," and we're on the brink of disaster everywhere. There's a looming nuclear blast and a building world war, and there are viewers everywhere facing that moment when they must learn to watch one show while recording another.
"24" (at 8 ET/PT, Fox) is the one with the war. The United States and Russia are ready to launch the missiles and planes over a component -- with this show, it's always a component -- and only Jack Bauer can save the world for, like, the 11th or 12th time by my count.
On NBC's "Heroes" (at 9 ET/PT, NBC), maybe Peter, maybe Sylar will go nuclear and destroy New York. That would pretty much be a bad thing, but the group that's been chasing the Heroes thinks it will help mankind. We don't know why, but my guess is it's connected to the fact that Roger Clemens is back pitching for the Yankees.
Guessing what will happen with "Heroes" is pretty hard. (No spoiler warning here: I don't know anything.) Producers have been hinting all sorts of different outcomes, and since this is the first season finale for the rookie hit, we don't even have a track record.
Creator Tim Kring has suggested there will be deaths, and he's more or less said Sylar (Zachary Quinto) will be around for a while longer because he's too good a character to lose -- that moment when he stood on the rooftop and quietly said, "Boom" was classic.
We also know we're in for a showdown between Sylar and Hiro (Masi Oka), because Hiro has been the soul of this show from the start, and also because Kring said that's coming.
But who will live, whether a bomb will explode, and what kind of cliffhanger will lead to next season -- you know they'll have a cliffhanger -- well, that's why you have to watch the show.
"Heroes," by the way, is a one-hour finale -- though if you are recording it, give yourself an extra couple minutes on the end because you just never know.
"24" will finish with a two-hour episode, and we already know a few things about the "24" finale. These aren't spoilers either. They're from the news and from watching good ol' Jack.
The first is, Kiefer Sutherland will be back playing super agent Jack Bauer for two more seasons. Fox announced that last week, so bet Jack will survive the night.
Also bet that Jack will torture someone -- my guess is the Chinese agent Cheng (Tzi Ma) because Cheng's been dogging Jack for years -- bet there will be more emotional torture for Jack, and bet someone will yell, "drop your weapon."
In the past couple of weeks, "24" gained back a little of its zip from a pretty zipless season, in big part because the producers finally ditched the White House politics, coups and various other illogical-yet-lame stunts.
"24" is always at it's best when it rushing forward at rollercoaster speed and when Jack is in the middle of it all. In the past few weeks, Jack and agent Boyle (Rick Schroder) have been running around shooting people and taking down huge numbers of bad guys.
When that sort of thing is going on, we can forgive a lot of the other silliness, or even embrace it. "24" wouldn't be "24" without the relentless high school drama inside the Counter Terrorism Unit. (Motto: Even your dog could break in and take hostages.)
One of the joys of "24" is also just how many things can happen to one person in one day. Even a supporting character like Nadia (Marisol Nichols) has had two serious crushes, was accused of treason, was cleared of treason, got kissed, was put in charge of the CTU, was taken hostage, watched a man die for her, beat up a bad guy, and got blamed for the CTU break-in. And that's just in 22 hours. She's got two more to ride out.
Producers and Fox entertainment president Peter Liguori say they're going to make substantive change next year. Part of the problem this season was the adrenaline level had already been pushed so high in previous years, there was no place left to go.
Some critics also say the plot turns this year have bordered on ridiculous. Really? The man who tried to assassinate the president is running the country and no one minds, the fate of the world has come down to the kidnapping of a teenage boy, and Jack keeps saving the world, then getting arrested, saving the world, then getting arrested, and on and on. What's illogical about that?
But "24" has never been about logic. It's about suspense and surprises and the adrenaline rush. If they can resurrect that, they resurrect the show next season. Then Jack can save the world again.
Or maybe he can just save the cheerleader and let her do it.
A heads-up for Tuesday night. While ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" will be announcing its winner in a two-hour finale (at 9 ET/PT, ABC-- a last-minute time change by the network), Fox's "American Idol" lets Jordin and Blake sing their last appeals for votes (at 8 ET/PT), and the CW's "Veronica Mars" disappears forever with its final two episodes (at 8 and 9 ET/PT), CBS is offering up a terrific TV movie.
That's "Jesse Stone: Sea Change" (at 8 ET/PT), the fourth in the series of moody and mesmerizing crime stories based on Robert B. Parker's best sellers and staring Tom Selleck.
It's an absorbing procedural, and Selleck makes it even better as the earnest but flawed police chief of a small New England town. The film blends the short, powerful dialogue of a classic noir detective story with Selleck's always engaging humanity.
The real crime here is that CBS is running it against such stiff competition.http://www.sacbee.com/127/v-print/story/187516.html