Monday, June 11, 2007

Strange Endings

It's mandatory that all bloggers express an opinion about the final episode of The Sopranos whether they saw it or not. Really. I got the memo and everything. Since I don't get HBO, I only get to watch the mobbed-up drama when I am on vacation at hotels that carry HBO (and I'm usually just waiting for Entourage or Real Sex MCMXLIV to come on) or if I stumble across it channel surfing on basic cable.

I have a rule about watching R-rated movies on basic cable: Don't. After watching the famous "Pine Barrens" episode on A&E this week, I am extending that ban to syndicated HBO shows as well. They sure "do" a lot of "freakin'" when they have to redub all the dialog.

Sorry for no spoiler warning, but you don't get one for The Sopranos. Everyone in the world is supposed to know the ending by now and that means there was no ending. There are only so many ways to end a long running television show. Let's review:

The Big Life Change. This is the most common and tritest. Everybody gets married, graduates from college, gets home from the war, etc. Whatever. Borrrring.

It Was All A Dream. Nothing tops the last episode of Newhart. Ever. And you can't even try. Sure, that ending was a variation of the St Elsewhere snow globe, but Newhart did it best.

Nothing Changes. The previously most hated series finale was Seinfeld where it all came back to the start. David Chase may have been going there, but I don't know. My bittorrent is going pretty slow. I'll let you know if and when I see it.

What I do know is that they better not screw up Battlestar Galactica. The show has announced that next season's 22 episodes will be the last. This has caused some hand-wringing and consternation in the geek community, but I am in favor of the idea.

I have postulated the theory that the whole point of BSG is so that Ronald Moore can give a big "FUCK YOU!" to Brannon Braga and the others that destroyed the Star Trek franchise in excrutiating slow motion starting with Voyager. Despite years of silly Gilligan's Island plots, ST:VOY actually pulled off a decent return to Earth and destroyed the evil robots chasing them across the galaxy in the process. Moore better find a better way to resolve the final showdown between humans and the evil robots chasing them across the galaxy or I will hunt him down and make him watch the season finale to Who's The Boss continuously for a week straight. I mean it.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: What is your favorite series finale?


Elizabeth said...

The Sex and the City final was predictable, but it made me happy.
But I have to agree, the last episode of Newhart can not be topped!!

Stella Dean said...

I don't get HBO either so I didn't see the finale. I read about it though. The review I read said the last episode was very tense, always waiting for something to happen, then nothing did and I like that. It leaves the imagination to work. Personally, I think that life just went on. Period.

My fav final episode of anything was M*A*S*H. I watched Newhart, but I don't remember.

The Pup said...

So how would you categorize everybody being killed by the movie slasher in the end as an ending? "Life change?"

Bob Newhart's ending was very funny and classic because it was so unexpected.

I liked Buffy the vampire slayer's ending-- yeah, it's a little cliched in the sense of "saved the world, now we can get on with our lives again"

I liked Seinfeld's ending if only because I wanted them all to get the death penalty. I hate Seinfeld. Could you POSSIBLY sit down to dinner with those people and not fork a few of 'em in the throat for being ridiculously annoying?

Although I hate "flashback shows", I admit. That part was horrible, I closed my eyes and chanted "Kill 'em all" repeatedly-- like I do with every Seinfeld episode.

I liked Kirk dying in Star Trek: Generations too. I think death is the BEST "life change" ending you can get. Woo hoo.

"All good things" wasn't a bad finale in its way-- a nice "nothing changes" plot that did in fact change, and completed the first episode of "STNG."

Still, it did not match some of the finest episodes ever done on that show.

Which is probably as it should be. When the show ends better than it has ever been all along, you gotta worry.

BTW, I think Firefly's last episode was pretty good. Anybody remember it?

Anonymous said...

I think the Mary Tyler Moore show had a good finale, but I don't specifically remember it. I'm downloading it right now on YouTube and will watch it tonight after work. Then I will retract if it turns out not to be any good.

My favorite series right now is Friends, which I am watching in reverse season order, so I watched the finale a while ago. I didn't like it too much but that's because I always found the Ross-Rachel plot line to be annoying; they are obviously destined to spend their lives making each other miserable. I really enjoy watching that show, though. The cast is so talented and attractive and they obviously have a lot of fun and genuinely like each other. Better than the finale was the special features at the end where they all talked about the last show and cried. But Matt LeBlanc was the best, when asked, "What will you miss most?" He answered off-the-cuff: "The paycheck."

I'm all choked up here.

Anonymous said...

The Newhart ending was sheer brilliance. Of others that I can remember, few stand out. I found MASH to be a little too sentimental. DS9 and B5 both ended well but a little disappointingly. We knew where B5 was going and I thought Sisko should have lived.

Although I never watched Dallas, I know a lot were disappointed in that too. The proper ending there would be for JR to realize that his life has fallen apart and, instead of shooting himself, yell, "Jeannie! I don't want to be an oil millionaire anymore!"

Anonymous said...

The British version of the Office managed to have its cake and eat it too with its ending: They ended the second season with an episode that lived up to the series' underlying bleakness and then some, then came back with the Christmas specials, which added a postscript that actually resolved the longstanding love interest in a crowd-pleasing way.

There is something to be said for the British way of running television, where you have less than 15 (sometimes less than 10!) shows in a season, and whether or not to continue the show is determined as much for creative reasons as by ratings. It almost turns shows into long-ish miniseries. The American style -- where shows run indefinitely, until they don't -- is great when you have a show you love and want to see all the time, but it doesn't really work for characters' dramatic growth or plot advancement.

My wife and I just finished watching the entire Arrested Development run, another show that had a decent final episode. All the shows tangled plots had pretty much been resolved in the next-to-last episode, and in the final one the main character finally realized how awful his family was and fled. It was sad when we were done, but if the show had kept going indefinitely, would it have stayed as sharp? You'll note that most folks haven't watched the Simpsons in many years...


Anonymous said...

Ooh, I just thought of another one. The finale of Blake's 7 (sometimes called the British Star Trek [meaning TOS]) was absolutely the single most mind-blowing hour of television I have ever seen. I won't say anything here for fear of spoiling, but wow! I literally left me with my jaw hanging open.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

I don't pay for HBO so I never saw an episode of The Sopranos either.

But I remember thinking the final episode of Gilligan's Island was the biggest disappointment of my teenage life.

2fs said...

Well, we just re-watched the _Twin Peaks_ finale on DVD: that one doesn't seem to fit into any of yr paradigms...

Hmm..._Angel_'s ending worked pretty well for me, though I'm low on detail at the moment since I haven't re-watched it since real-time.

I liked _Six Feet Under_'s finale...although at the time, I wasn't sure about the whole "future" business.

Oh - and the _X-Files_ finale? Sucked harder than the suckiest suck that ever sucked.

(Okay, so Lauren drives to the Black Lodge in her new Prius and becomes a slayer and kills Bob...)

2fs said...

ps: the meaning of my using her real name, as opposed to the character's name, is very complex, deep, and subtle. Or, I just fucked up.

Anonymous said...

The ending of "Home Movies" was awesome (They spend most of the episode talking about being in a rut, then Brendan accidentally drops his camera out of a moving car... Nice closure).

Mooselet said...

I can't think of any spectacular ones, mainly because I'm pretty disappointed in the endings. Spike dying (yet not really) in Buffy? Lame. The whole Mulder/Scully lovey-dovey thing in The X-Files? Nauseating. Enterprise? Don't even get me started. This is why I stick to The History Channel and The Discovery Channel.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I have this question on my blog right now. Actualyy, I didn't know about the Newhart ending. The long-running comedy series 'The Brittas Empire' turned out to be all a dream.

Anonymous said...

The Young Ones. "Look out! Cliff!"