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‘L&O’ finale borrows from Times Square incident

Mon., May 24, 2010

An entertainment era has ended. Over a 24-hour period, we’ll have seen the final episodes of “Lost” (which ended Sunday night), “24” (8 p.m., Fox) and “Law & Order” (10 p.m., NBC), each a defining and important series in the history of television.

Of the three, only “Lost” leaves the stage with viewers still clamoring for more. “Law & Order” will be missed, but with three surviving spinoffs and hundreds of repeats, it has weathered the harshest TV adversary of all: competing against itself. And it has done so for 20 years.

Tonight’s “L&O” unfolds like any other. A torn-from-headlines case ricochets from an Internet creep to a bomb threat not unlike the recent incident in Times Square to “Rubber Rooms” where teachers are warehoused – at full pay – while awaiting disciplinary action.

The episode also concerns Lt. Van Buren’s (S. Epatha Merkerson) health woes. Will we see her showing up on “Law & Order SVU” or “Criminal Intent” or the new “L&O” set in LA? Mum’s the word.

•Over eight seasons “24” burned hotter, brighter and louder than many other series until it just burned out altogether. But along the way it managed to be something rather remarkable – a gripping series with comic book plotting and characters, hyper-violence and cliffhangers straight out of the silent-movie era that at the same time managed to seem frighteningly relevant.

The pilot for “24” had been produced before the 9/11 attacks. Yet almost from the start, the series seemed to define and inform serious conversations about torture and the limits of the law in the face of terrorism.

At the end of the day, or rather eight days, Jack’s most enduring bond was not with the president or CTU big-shots but with the nerd who has had his back (and managed his firewall) all along. It’s probably time for him to hang it up, but I’ll miss Chloe O’Brien.

•Ruby Dee narrates “Place Out of Time: The Bordentown School” (10 p.m., KSPS), a history of a New Jersey institution known as “The Tuskegee of the North” that offered education to black students from 1866 to 1955.

•Over the next four weeks, “The Media Project” (5 p.m., IFC), a documentary series of the Michael Moore school, discusses how the news boosts ratings with stories of war, greed and disaster.

Tonight: how TV news, particularly Fox News, stokes irrational fear of President Obama.

Other finales

Marshall and Lily make a pact on “How I Met Your Mother” (8 p.m., CBS).

The Ring tightens on “Chuck” (8 p.m., NBC).

A surprise wedding on “Rules of Engagement” (8:30 p.m., CBS).

Charlie loses his license on “Two and a Half Men” (9 p.m., CBS).

Sheldon enters the online dating scene on “The Big Bang Theory” (9:30 p.m., CBS).

A killer taunts authorities in code on “CSI: Miami” (10 p.m., CBS).

Other highlights

Walter’s secret revealed on “10 Things I Hate About You” (8 p.m., Family).

“The Bachelorette” returns (9 p.m., ABC).

“True Life” (10 p.m., MTV) looks at rebels in Saudi Arabia.

“True Hollywood Story” (10 p.m., E!) profiles Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Late night

Jake Gyllenhaal and Casey James are on “Late Show with David Letterman” (11:35 p.m., CBS) … Jay Leno welcomes Russell Brand on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) … Adrien Brody and Damian Marley with Nas appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (12:05 a.m., ABC).


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