Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

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'24' finale instant reaction: What did you think of the end of the final day?

Spoiler alert! Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen tonight’s two-hour 24 series finale! I’m warning you — try to imagine me speaking to you in a patented Jack Bauer hoarse growl — stay away until you’ve watched. Numerous spoilers ahead. READ FULL STORY

Review of tonight's 'Breaking Bad': I know it's 'Lost' Night, but watch or record this episode, please

I’m breaking (as it were) with precedent and offering a preview-review of tonight’s Breaking Bad, because it’s so good, I’d be shocked if both Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul don’t use the episode for Emmy consideration. There’s more on TV tonight than Lost, folks.

The pre-credits begin with a super-close-up of a fly. The episode’s title? “Fly.” The hour is basically a three-character piece: Walt, Jesse, and READ FULL STORY

'Lost' on 'Letterman': See a preview of tonight's 'Lost Top Ten'

As Dave explains the show here, Lost was about a flight from Milwaukee that mysteriously landed in Hawaii… well, Lost gurus Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof do a better job at dropping spoilers during this peek at a Top Ten airing on The Late Show tonight:

Good Michael Emerson cameo, yes?

'Saturday Night Live' season finale tonight with Alec Baldwin: Will the show go out on a note of triumph?

Alec Baldwin hosts Saturday Night Live for the 15th time tonight. The musical guests are Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Update: Go here for a complete recap of last night’s show, plus an overview of the season.

Betty White talks 'Saturday Night Live,' her sketches with Jay-Z, her fears, her hopes

Betty White, in case you haven’t heard, is hosting Saturday Night Live tonight. She joked in promo ads about her nervousness, she says, “I’m thrilled to be doing Saturday Night Live, she lied.”

Go here for a complete recap of last night’s show. Thanks.

Conan was asked to be in Super Bowl ad with Leno and Letterman, and Leno bombs at White House Correspondents dinner

1. I didn’t think it was possible to come up with a worse comedic performance than Rich Little’s, at George Bush’s 2007 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, but last night Jay Leno managed to be not merely less funny, but also seemed uncharacteristically irritated. He rushed through one tepid joke after another. When many were met with only mild laughs, Leno resorted to that oldest of comedian complaints — he actually said, “Ooh, this is a tough room.” No, tough was sitting through jokes about Betty White being as old as Abraham Lincoln:

2. Few media outlets and Team Coco seem to have picked up on a choice bit of trivia David Letterman dropped on Friday’s Live with Regis and Kelly. Letterman, prodded by Regis Philbin to rehash “the late night wars” once again, brought up the Super Bowl commercial in which he, Leno, and Oprah Winfrey squabbled on a sofa. Dave, who was amusing while joshing with Regis and Kelly Ripa, dropped the kidding for a moment and gave us a glimpse into how mini-events like this come together.

Letterman said that originally, his idea had been to have Conan join him and Jay on that sofa. But Conan declined. The quotes re. Conan occur about nine minutes into this clip:

I suppose the insults O’Brien had endured by NBC and, by extension, Leno, were too fresh in his mind to permit him to share furniture-space with Leno, but really, where were the man’s comedic instincts? Think of how much more amusing/squirmy/talked-about this spot would have been with Conan in the middle.

3. Conan on 60 Minutes tonight. Having seen the same clips you have, I understand the misgivings my colleague Kate Ward has about Conan coming off as a victim tonight. But two observations in advance: His beard really works in the 60 Minutes context, and wouldn’t it have been more typically Conan if, instead of being interviewed by a 60 Minutes correspondent, he’d asked to take over Andy Rooney’s spot for the final minute (“You know what I hate? I hate it when a guy gives you his show and then tries to take it back… “)?

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For more: Conan on ’60 Minutes’: Will too much NBC-Leno talk turn him into a victim

'Saturday Night Live' tonight: The topics host Gabourey Sidibe and the 'SNL' cast will tackle this week

Last night, Gabourey Sidibe hosted Saturday Night Live, with musical guest MGMT. Anyone who’s seen Sidibe on a talk show promoting Precious already knows that she’s a funny charmer.

For my full recap, please go here.

'Glee' review: Tonight's 'Power of Madonna' episode is one of the best hours of TV you'll see all year

May I suggest that if you don’t want to miss one of the best hours of TV you’re likely to see all year you be sure to watch Glee tonight? “The Power of Madonna” is like having the finest Broadway jukebox musical ever made in your living room, except that Glee has better jokes and more involving plotlines.

The premise is simple: Sue Sylvester READ FULL STORY

'24' tonight: Is one big reason you keep watching because you know it's canceled?


It makes sense. You want to know how 24 ends, right? No matter how ridiculous, exhausted, or suddenly inspired that conclusion turns out to be.

This occurred to me as I approached last week’s edition of 24 as a matter of duty-not-pleasure, that the primary reason I was seeing this lousy season through to its end was that I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t — that as repetitive and predictable as 24 has become, I had to be able to say I’d seen Jack Bauer through every single hour of his (in our universe) nine-year-long agony.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

Unlike Lost, whose brilliant decision to announce the end of the series has only increased fan fervor and speculation, the 24 cancellation comes as some combination of relief, sorrow, inevitability, and tease. It was pretty clear, when this season began with Jack dandling his grandchild in New York City, that Bauer was not in the midst of a cliff-hanger, as he’d been in some seasons before. Indeed, Jack’s disconnection from his action-hero life mirrored ours. Even if you remain an enthused fan of 24, you’re now watching it less for the story itself but for the way the methods of storytelling are playing out — what variations in the formula are being introduced.

Lately, those variations are at once surprising (Chloe taking over at CTU?) and predictable (Cherry Jones has never been given much to do as president except worry, so why not bring back the most eccentric, jittery President of all, Gregory Itzen’s version?).

Shooting Renee last week deprived us of the season’s sole interesting character — what Annie Wersching was doing with Renee’s mixture of anger, vulnerability, and despair was fascinating — but it was also totally in keeping with the old Jack-cannot-ever-be-happy theme.

Now he’s — what else? — “out for revenge,” as Fox puts it. So we’ll sit through a few more weeks of watching Jack run and shoot and wrestle with the way his rage-fuelled sorrow contradicts his patriotic duty and tortures him more than any mere terrorist could. Bauer’s inner conflicts have always been compelling. It’s the repetitive procession of foreign enemies and allies, the bombs and the bureaucratic red-tape, that has become stultifying.

Plus, we know we have to stay to the bitter end because it’s not the bitter end. There’s the announced 24 feature film to ponder. How will the show leave Jack so that he can transition to the big screen?

How about you? Will you be sticking around until the show ends on May 24? Are you watching out of pleasure, habit, or both?

Follow @kentucker

'Saturday Night Live' preview: Guessing what Ryan Phillippe and Ke$ha will be doing

The host of Saturday Night Live this week is Ryan Phillippe. He’s co-starring in this summer’s MacGruber movie with Will Forte.

For a full recap of last night’s show, go here.

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