Thursday, June 14, 2007

All's Well That Ends Well

If there is one thing I am an expert in it is quality television programming. My past track record includes being a fan of My So Called Life (cancelled after 1 season), Sons & Daughters (cancelled after 1 season), and Lawless* (cancelled after 1 show). So I thought I more than qualify to weigh in on the topic of tv series finales. Of course my inspiration came from this week’s final episode of the critically acclaimed show, Every time I Defend The Garden State This Show Makes Me Realize That All The Jersey Jokes Are True, I mean The Sopranos. Now, I need to be upfront with you. I was not a part of the 11.9 million viewers who tuned in Sunday night to see (fade to black). I also was not a part of the 13 million who tuned in for the season premier of America’s Got Talent. I was instead part of the 150 million glued to CNN for Paris in jail updates. I can’t wait for those guard cell phone pictures of her using her hair extensions as toilet paper to be released. Nevertheless, after listening to Howard Stern’s synopsis all week and actually watching the last few minutes of the episode on youtube, I have been inspired to comment on what I thought were the best/worst series finale shows. The criteria for this list was it had to be a show that I watched. So, no matter what the experts say, you will not see MASH on my list.
*1997 Fox action series starring former college football star and NFL flop Brian Bosworth as a private investigator.

BEST

1) SEINFELD (May 14, 1998): My favorite show of all time. Not a day (hour) (ok minute) goes by without a Seinfeldism popping into my head. True Seinfeld fans loved how the show ended with the fantastic foursome being put on trial for breaking the Good Samaritan law, and all those memorable characters from their past who were victims of their self centered attitudes were called to testify against them. Wonder how their jailhouse performance of Bye, Bye Birdie turned out?
2) WONDER YEARS (May 12, 1993): My second favorite show of all time, now being rerun at night on the Ion channel. The show ends with the family coming together for the town’s annual 4th of July parade. Through Daniel Stern’s voice over we learn that Jack dies later that year and Kevin and Winnie don’t end up together. Just like how things happen in the “real” world, and true to form for how the show was written. Is there a better time in life than when you’re 12?
3) CHEERS
(May 20, 1993): One of the most popular sitcoms, and highest rated finales, of all time. Typically referred to as an evening sitcom, the show successfully mixed comedy, drama, romance, and cliffhangers; something that was not done successfully before or since. In the finale we learn that Diane wrote an award-winning cable movie and is reunited with Sam. They're about to fly off and get married when the plane gets grounded due to mechanical failure. He realizes, with the help of his friends, that he's happiest behind the bar, so he stays. The final scene is of a mysterious man coming to the door and Sam saying "We're closed!" Too bad Sam was a former Red Sox pitcher.
4) ALF (March 24, 1990): ALF is one of a myriad pieces of evidence that proves that pop culture (music, tv, movies,) was much better in the 80’s and 90’s than it is today. This is why my children will grow up believing it is always 1992. ALF was a show about a furry alien from the planet Melmac living with the Tanners, a typical American family. In the series finale, Alf is about to be rescued by other survivors of his home planet, but is instead captured by the Alien Task Force, and the viewer is left to ponder Alf's ultimate fate. Mind you, the primary viewing demographic was under the age of 13 so for the show to end on a downer is absolutely classic.


WORST


1) ROSEANNE (May 20, 1997): If you’ve ever watched an episode of Roseanne you know what it was like to grow up in the Detjen household. A very well written show that was in tune with the regular American family, unlike the Cleavers. However, the final episode was a complete disappointment and as confusing as any Lost episode. It was all a book? Dan actually died of the heart attack? Jackie was really gay? Darlene was really with Mark and Becky was really with David? Roseanne should have stuck to what made the show great. Like episodes where Darlene gets her first period and I had to explain to my brother that there are other periods than the ones used to end sentences.
2) KING OF QUEENS (May 14, 2007): A great show that came at a great time, just as Seinfeld was ending. Kevin James and Stacy Carosi had great chemistry, but the last season tanked horribly. What was up with Adam Sandler playing an Assistant Principal? To cap off a bad season was an equally bad finale. Arthur is going to get married. Then he isn’t going to get married. Then he marries Spence’s Mom. Doug and Carrie adopt a Chinese baby. Then they find out they are pregnant. The story line was weak, and it lacked the great comedy the show was known for in previous years. The biggest disappointment of the finale was they never explained what happened to Richie.
3) FELICITY (May 22, 2002): I’ll admit it, I was a Felicity watcher. For the first 2 ½ - 3 years anyway. It reminded me of college even though I didn’t go to college in New York, or in any big city for that matter. Like King of Queens this show went in the tank its last year. A storyline that consisted of Meghan and Felicity devising a time traveling spell that ended with Felicity and Ben being together. She should have cut all her hair off and ended the show like it was meant to be ended. Felicity getting back at that bitch Julie by becoming the new pink power ranger.
4) HOME IMPROVEMENT (May 25, 1999): This sitcom goes to show you how creative you can be while spending time in jail for drug trafficking. However, as funny as it was early on it seemed the older the kids got the worse the show got. Despite its steady decline, it was still a stable comedy mainstay for several years. The show’s finale was a 3 parter where Jill ponders taking a job that would mean relocating the family. Tim quits Tool Time and ponders his future with Wilson. In the end there is no real closure. Did Jill take the job? Did the Taylors move? Why did Mark turn goth? Why didn’t they ever have an entire episode devoted to the Tool Time girls making out?

1 comment:

Jason said...

Is that really how ALF ended? That's amazing.

I'm glad you were also dumbfounded by the way Roseanne went out. I didn't see that until 2004, after years of watching and rewatching every single episode on Nick at Nite (after seeing most of the episodes on ABC the first time around). I was horrified. You find out Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy aren't real. You think you're done with the surprises. And then you see the Roseanne finale.