Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Great (film) Debates vol. 93

All good things (and bad things) must end... especially on television.

What was the best/worst television series finale?





Panelist: BevfromNYC

The Best series finale ever hands down was the ending of Newhart (the one in Vermont). When he woke up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette in the bedroom of the The Bob Newhart Show and said he’d had the strangest dream that he had owned a Inn in Vermont. It was gold!

Worst finale – The end of The Sopranos. Do I really need to explain why?

Panelist: T-Rav

Although its later seasons weren’t anything to write home about, I’d have to say M*A*S*H for best series finale, as it just wrapped everything up in a very satisfying and bittersweet manner. As for worst—yeesh. I know a lot of people go with either Seinfeld or The Sopranos, but I haven’t really watched those, and anyway I have a better one. Roseanne. If you don’t know what I mean, look it up. What a mindf**k.

Panelist: AndrewPrice

I’m going with The Sopranos for best because in that last four minutes you get to look through Tony’s paranoid eyes as you watch, thinking each person in the diner will off him, and you get to see the side of him you never saw before and what his life was really like. It gives you a new perspective on the whole series.

Worst is Babylon 5 which did some sort of lesson about how bad people are and it just p*ssed me off.

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

I thought Dallas was unsatisfying. That whole Devil and J.R. thing. The series was originally great fun as a "guilty pleasure" over the top prime time soap, and J. R. Ewing a great character, but it went on too long and became a parody of itself. I was a big fan of the final Soprano's episode because the viewer is required to imagine what happens for themselves. They may have hoped by leaving options open to have a reunion film down the road, but, alas, that option is gone forever. The other finale I really enjoyed was J.A.G. That series was originally pitched as a marriage of "Top Gun meets A Few Good Men". Over time, it became a classic sexual tension format with romantic undertones between the male and female leads (David James Elliott and Catherine Bell.) It became clear that those two had to get together, but only at the end of the series. That scenario is a bit of a cliche, yet J.A.G. handled it in a nice, classy way.

Panelist: Floyd

I didn't watch much of the show, but the Newhart finale was the best. In the final scene, Bob Wakes up from a dream rolls over, turns on the light, and Suzanne Pleshette (from the 1970s Bob Newhart Show) is in the bed and bedroom from the Bob Newhart Show set. That the second show had all been a dream by the 1970s Bob Newhart was genius -- straight up. In a drama it would be a cop out that would hack off millions of viewers. Given the nature of Bob Newhart's comedy -- it was pitch perfect. This answer is contingent on the upcoming Breaking Bad series finale.

Worst... I don't know if I have a worst either. Any show that just fizzles out like Star Trek: The Original Series...

Panelist: ScottDS

Given that most of my favorite shows never had a proper "finale," I would say The Larry Sanders Show had the best one. The show was on my radar but I might've been too young to appreciate it at the time. Worst finale would be the one that aired around the same time: Seinfeld. A glorified clip show, with the gang acting somewhat out of character. I feel bad for folks - mainly non-fans - who tuned in just because of the hype. Thankfully, Larry David and Co. rectified this on Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which one of the plotlines was a Seinfeld reunion.

I won't even give the Star Trek: Enterprise finale the dignity of a response.

Comments? Thoughts?

85 comments:

PDBronco said...

I'd have to agree that Newhart and JAG are on the top of the list.

When Bob turned on the light in the bedroom, I said out loud "No, they're not going to do that..." - I think those of us who were fans of The Bob Newhart Show knew at that point exactly where they were going. The topper was the final line after the lights went back out and the credits started (in typical TBNS fashion): "Emily, have you ever thought about wearing sweaters more often?"

With JAG, it was a nice touch leaving it up in the air as to who resigned and who took the promotion. And a nice nod to the admiral with his challenge coin.

But the best might be The Mary Tyler Moore show. The mass hug shuffling over to Mary's desk to get the tissue box was as classic as Chuckles the Clowns funeral.

Most finales range from bad to awful. I'll courteously disagree with T-Rav. To me, the M*A*S*H finale ranks in the "awful" column. Boring, over-dramatic, and the greatest sin - not funny at all. Then again, that kind of summed up the last couple of seasons... The best way to end it might have been more like the movie - quickly by getting discharge orders.

AndrewPrice said...

PDBronco, I seem to recall MASH coming back for a finale or a final season (not sure which) and it just stunk. If I remember correctly, half of them were insane or dead and it felt like a betrayal of the whole show.

shawn said...

My favorite series finale: Black Adder Goes Forth. Heartbreaking seeing them "Go over the top" for a day on the Somme.

Newhart was really good as well.

Worst: The recent Battlestar Galactica. Just a mess. They never addressed why Helo and Boomer's hybrid kid was so great and everyone ditching their tech to live with the natives.. sigh.

Kit said...

Best: Angel's finale "Not Fade Away". Yes it was open-ended but it was still awesome, nonetheless. Fan Trailer, here: LINK

Kit said...

I should note the Fan Trailer contains spoilers for the last season.

tryanmax said...

Worst comes to mind right away. Lost. What a screw job. If there was ever any doubt whether the writers knew where they were going, the finale cleared it right up: they didn't.

I totally agree on Newhart. The Cosby Show ended nicely, as did Cheers. I like how Everybody Loves Raymond ended without making a thing of it.

Tennessee Jed said...

As I read these, it reminds me that the big "planned" series finale didn't always exist. Also, producers who plan on how to wrap things up face a double edged sword. Yes, they have time, theoretically, to craft a better story, but sometimes, the weight of expectations guarantees disappointment for some.

I found it interesting that Beverly and Andrew chose Sopranos for opposite reasons. If that isn't the definition of controversial, what is?

Tennessee Jed said...

tryanmax, "Lost" strikes me as a great example of a series where the finale was destined to disappoint. It was certainly a series that was innovative, and fostered a lot of discussion among fans. However, like "Twin Peaks" it seemed to me to be so different, so multi-layered, so meaningful, and so open ended that ultimately it became a parody of itself. Once open ended questions were forced to be answered, part of the mystique was lost. Admittedly, this is from an older guy who watched the first season, and never became a real devotee, even though I tried a few times to jump back on board.

Dwizzum said...

Best I would go with The Prisoner. The last episode is just a weird, trippy mindfu*ck full of allegory, and symbolism. It's a fitting end to a great series.

I know a lot of people did not like it, but I enjoyed the X-Files final. They found a way to lay out the convoluted mythology through the trial. It explained things to my satisfaction.

Worst=Lost. A text book example of a series not having a plan and making stuff up on the fly. Just a sloppy mess.

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - Seinfeld seems to me to be a great example of an impossible level of hype setting the bar far too high. Of course, I never was a hard core Seinfeld fan. I saw some episodes including some that were really funny, but the premise never really appealed to me all that much, so I had no expectations surrounding the finale.

Tennessee Jed said...

Bev - I always wondered if the creators of Dallas used the Newhart finale as the model for explaining away a whole season as a dream :)

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

All things considered, the Lost finale wasn't too bad (in a vacuum at least)...

BUT

...knowing how the show ended, they could've done it in three seasons and not six since so much of what we saw didn't even matter in the end.

Oh, and I remember telling friends, "If the whole point of the show is that all you need is love, I'm gonna be pissed!" - and I wasn't totally wrong!!

Here's a list of unanswered questions... some of them may have since been answered.

Outlaw13 said...

I too liked the Bob Newheart finale.

Magnum PI had the perfect ending and then they decided to come back for another season the ending of which wasn't bad with him returning to the Navy, but not as good as the first.

I too hated Battlestar's ending but the entire last season was awful, not just the last show. When the story-line shifted to were it was an Iraq analogy (especially given I was in Iraq at the time) it just pissed me off.

Dave Olson said...

It's a little unfair to ask this question now, since "Breaking Bad" hasn't aired its finale yet. We've seen two flash-forwards of Future Walt, in which he has a .50 caliber rifle (or something) and he risked returning to his old home to retrieve the vial of ricin. We'll all know what he was doing by next Sunday, and based on last week's thrilling episode (the death of Hank and the knife fight between Walt and Skyler) it's gonna be mmm-mmmm-good.

Chalk me up as one of the many who hated, Hated, HATED the finale of "The Sopranos". I mean come on! We'd invested years into Tony Soprano. In the words of Dr. Melfi, we allowed ourselves to be charmed by a sociopath. So however it was going to end, either in FBI handcuffs or a bloody shootout, we wanted to SEE it, dammit! All we got was an order of onion rings, Meadow's inability to parallel park, and a smash cut to black. To this day I feel disappointed whenever I hear "Don't Stop Believing". Remember how cathartic the seaside reunion felt at the end of Shawshank Redemption? Steven King's original novella ended with Red on the bus realizing that "I hope." Interesting in its own way, but not nearly as satisfying, especially after sitting through two and a half hours of a prison movie.

When you rip the finale of "Babylon 5", which one do you want to rip, the fourth season or the fifth season? The season 4 finale (I'm talking about the ones as they appear on the DVD collections) was actually filmed after season 5, which only occurred after the show was unexpectedly renewed. So the finale for season 5, which turned out to be the actual finale, was actually shot at the end of season 4. Confused? Good. I love the show and I love both finales. So there.

tryanmax said...

My only response is that the Lost finale would have been better if the fans in the forums would have wrote it. There were some very clever solutions to wrap up all the loose ends. Also, the sentiment there was pretty universal: We'll accept anything except they've been dead all along! (Wha-wha.)

PikeBishop said...

Gentlemen: How could anyone here forget the ultimate, all time #1 finale, and arguably, the first one to give producers that idea that they really, really, really need to do something amazing and over the top to take a show to its coda?

Hands down: "St. Elsewhere." The entire five season arc of love, violence, hate, births, death, divorces, humor, addictions, etc. was all the product of the fevered brain of an Autistic boy, whom we are told by "Grandfather/Dr. Auschlander" "Does anyone really know what they are thinking about?"

Fade to snowglobe..................

Never has been topped, never will.

PikeBishop said...

Bev: My apologies for not including you in my greeting in my last post.

Best:
1. Cheers: Straighten the picture of Geronimo (a tribute to the late Nicholas Collasanto who had that picture in his dressing room) and fade to black.
2. Hill Street Blues: The first realistic, gritty, large ensemble drama. The shift was changing, the phone rang, an unknown officer picked it up, "Hill Street." Fade to black. The world goes on turning.
3. Newhart: "Nuff said" already here.

Worst:
1. Roseanne: Yikes, a giant middle finger to your few remaining fans (as your off screen behavior during the successful run of your show, just kept alienating and alienating people.....I'm looking at you Miss Barr-Arnold.)

Ones that have grown on my over the years:
1. The Sopranos; Yeah I get it now, even out for onion rings with his family, everytime the door opens Tony could get whacked.
2. Seinfeld: Initial disappointment like 98%of everyone else, but as people have observed (and reading here on this blog) Larry David was brilliant. These people are four total assholes and what you found funny for eight seasons was actually pretty cruel.

Ones I like less on repeated viewings:
1. MASH: Too long, and the first part Hawkeye goes nuts due to a repressed memory of a horrific event (anyone recall what it was?) seemed to me the kind of fake liberal angst that Alda had let the show devolve into the final years as the soapbox was brought out weekly. So it becomes an hour of talking on the couch with Sidney Friedman. (Note to writers; the army would never let a psychiatrist treat a patient who was also a poker buddy and good friend. Duh!) The actual ending hour I still find pretty good.

Ones I still havn't decided on:
LOST: I see it both ways, which considering the show, seems appropriate.

Ty in TX said...

Pike:
It was a Korean woman accidentally strangling her baby to keep it quiet when the bus they were on was hiding from an enemy patrol, if I recall correctly. Hawkeye had managed to deal with it be altering the memory into that of her killing a chicken, but he knew it wasn't the correct memory and trying to get to the right one was causing him trouble.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, The endings of each Black Adder season were interesting... not great, but interesting. The fourth, however, was tragic. Excellent ending.

AndrewPrice said...

tyanmax, Lost annoyed me because it struck me fairly early on that they didn't have a plan... they were just throwing out more questions. It was like they hoped they would get cancelled before they had to offer a conclusion.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That is the definition of controversial. I remember when the ending happened, 1/3 the public HATED it and 1/3 the public LOVED it and the other third had no idea what it meant.

AndrewPrice said...

Dwizzum, Good call on The Prisoner! I've been struggling to figure out what that episode meant for years.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, The Iraq analogy really pissed me off with BSG. I thought that was despicable actually.

AndrewPrice said...

Dave, I'm ripping the whole ending season, which seems like a real mess as it created new threads that wouldn't resolve and seemed to abandon everything it had worked toward. But I'm particularly ripping the episode where the Earth has been destroyed and returned to a medieval state so we can learn to be good people again, led by the Rangers. That annoyed me to no end.

AndrewPrice said...

Pike, Yeah, there is St. Elsewhere. LOL!

What I thought was so fantastic about The Sopranos (after I got over the shock that there wasn't something more) was that for those last five minutes, you become so amazingly paranoid and you think that every person who walks past him is about to turn around and kill him. It's a truly palpable feeling of paranoia. But nothing happens. Then you suddenly realize, this is what this guy's life is like every single minute of every day and that gives you a whole new perspective on his life.

AndrewPrice said...

Ty and Pike, I hate the whole idea. It felt like they wanted to do the most depressing thing they could think of (in a liberal way).

T-Rav said...

Jed, my family and I watched J*A*G for most of its run; I agree the finale was good, but the show ran a season or two too long, and that kind of weakened it for me. Still a good show, though.

tryanmax said...

I did a little googling about best/worst endings. Apparently The Fugitive is the first show to really officially conclude as a series. I've never seen it myself, but apparently Dr. Kimball is finally exonerated. Funny thing is, since it was an episodic format, one could pretty much just watch the first and last episodes and get the whole story.

T-Rav said...

PDBronco, you are wrong and a terrible human being. :P

No seriously, that's okay. In general, I like M*A*S*H less now than I did growing up (my grandpa's a Korean War vet and got me to watch it a lot when I was staying with him and grandma). Now, it strikes me as over-sentimental and mindlessly anti-war, especially in its later seasons. For that reason, though, most of the sob story stuff in the finale didn't bother me, because I was used to seeing that (or worse) in other episodes.

Honestly, I thought it wrapped things up very well. Everyone got to go home in the end, but not unscathed (Mulcahy lost his hearing, Potter lost his horse, etc.). It seemed to me a very touching reminder about how a veteran returns from war not quite the same person that he was before. I don't believe any vet, however they feel about the show in general, would disagree with that.

T-Rav said...

By the way, I didn't go with it because it's less familiar than Roseanne, but does anyone remember the show Dinosaurs? Because the finale for that was at least as bad, if not worse.

AndrewPrice said...

Wasn't Dinosaurs a cartoon?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I've seen a lot of the episodes, but never the first one or the last one. Great point though about seeing the whole series in those two episodes. LOL!

Kenn Christenson said...

I actually liked how "The Prisoner" ended. An enigmatic ending for the enigmatic show. Also liked how all the various societal groups were represented in the gallery, as if they were also part of the same machine trying to stamp down the individual.

AndrewPrice said...

Kenn, I thought it was brilliant, but it was frustrating as heck too. I'm still trying to figure out what it all means. I suspect he's dead.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I think technically it was live-action, but the main characters were....well, I'm not sure if they were actors in costumes or animatronic puppets. I suspect the latter.

Either way, it was aimed at kids and adolescents, which made the finale all the more....let's say questionable.

AndrewPrice said...

Questionable? I didn't see it. What happened?

PikeBishop said...

Andew: LOL on St. Elsewhere? Do you agree or disagree?

Tennessee Jed said...

T-Rav: so many t.v. series do hang on a little too long. Still, I give JAG credit for touching on a few tough issues in a reasonably objective manner.

One of the things that has struck me about this discussion is that, unlike films, most of these t.v. series finales were only viewed once. As such, my memory of them is, at best, hazy.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I thought it was a ridiculous ending actually. I mean, it's memorable, but talk about unsatisfying.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Sadly, most series do hang on too long. Always go out on top!

Tennessee Jed said...

when I was in college back in the '60's, I took a class in ethics and read a book about situational ethics which posed the very situation mentioned about that was "repressed" by Hawkeye. Leave it to Alda to turn it into a choking the chicken nightmare.

PikeBishop said...

Jed "Choking the chicken.............................Naaaaaaaaaah to easy! :-)

PikeBishop said...

Andrew: EVERYONE was talking about that St. Elsewhere ending at the Water Cooler the next day, it actually led off the 11 o'clock news on a slow news day on our local station, and they were not even an NBC affiliate. No kidding!

And it, if memory serves correctly, predated Newhart by a year or two.

This broke the ground, shattered the old standard.

Anonymous said...

Tennessee Jed makes a good point. Unlike movies,which alot of us own or stream and rewatch,tv finales are often viewed only once, and often long ago,so trying to remember them is hazy.
That being said,here goes my two cents worth. Hands down the best tv series ending ever was the Bob Newhart show. As you watched the episode it started off plausibly, Then it got crazier and crazier until you realized Bob was having a dream. Ok,so far so good. Then when he woke up in the bedroom from the first Bob Newhart Show and Suzanne Pleshette was there,that was just untoppable.
As far as runnerups go,I'd like to thank PDBronco and Outlaw13. Until today's thread I had forgotten about the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore show,with them all shuffling over to the kleenex. Thanks for that. And I hadn't quite forgotten about Magnum PI but it was good to be reminded. Both "Finales" were very good. I'd say that artistically, the ending with Magnum dying was superior,with Magnum in the hospital and Higgins,off camera if I remember correctly,barking "MAGNUM! I demand that you return immediately!" and Thomas turning as if to consider it,then walking off into eternity. Emotionally,however,I prefer the way the series ended, with Thomas rejoining the navy. The reason they brought the show back was audience reaction,and I'm glad he didn't die. Isn't it funny how emotionally invested we get in fictional characters?
GypsyTyger

AndrewPrice said...

Pike, There's no doubt it was brilliantly effective, but for me personally, I thought it was ridiculous. I didn't like the way it cheapened the characters by making them unreal.

Anonymous said...

As far as worst, for me it was The X-Files all the way. I was a fan of the series for years and even though it had gone way downhill since David Duchovny left(before that, in hindsight) I thought that the writers would give me at least something. I mean,they knew this was the last episode. They had a whole year to write this thing. To borrow from P.J.O'Rourke, "What the fuck? I mean what the fucking fuck?" Mulder goes to a disciplinary hearing and is sentenced to death? Huh? Then,when he's on death row his friends just walk in and get him? Huh? And then,when last we'd seen The Smoking Man his health had declined so badly that he was confined to a wheelchair and was being cared for by two young people in Washington DC. They had thrown him down the stairs and left him there,helpless. Now all of a sudden he's some long haired oracle in Mexico, still puffing away. See Mr. O'Rourke's comment above and repeat as necessary. He couldn't get up a flight of stairs by himself the last time we saw him. How did he get to Mexico? Who brought him cigarettes? See Mr. O'Rourke's comment again. I taped that episode,watched it, and taped over it. Refer to Mr. O'Rourke one more time.
I never saw the last episode of The Sopranos. The last episode of Seinfeld sucked,but Seinfeld was just something I watched casually,so I didn't have any emotional investment in it.Maybe it's just me,but it seems like when Seinfeld was in it's run it was topical and clever but now it just looks dated.
GypsyTyger

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Dinosaurs was live-action with Jim Henson puppets. And if I recall, the finale was basically the beginning of the Ice Age. In other words, the characters were all doomed!

T-Rav said...

Andrew, basically, Dinosaurs was kind of a family sitcom/social satire, putting modern-day issues in a prehistoric setting where dinosaurs have families and jobs, etc. So basically, it was like Roseanne or Everybody Loves Raymond, except with dinosaurs as the lead characters. Again, this was for younger audiences, so it wasn't overly eloquent and more punchline-oriented, but you get the picture (I hope).

Okay, with all that said, the last episode has a mega-corporation, one we're led to believe basically controls the whole economy, bomb all the planet's volcanoes and make them erupt (because they think the ensuing clouds will make it rain and then fix the environment they ruined with their chemicals, because Big Business). The massive eruptions block out the sun, the whole planet goes cold and covered with ash, and the end of the episode has the particular family, around which the whole series has revolved for however many seasons, staring out the windows of their house while they and most other life on Earth slowly starves and/or freezes to death in their version of a nuclear winter.

And I repeat, the main audience for this show was kids.

T-Rav said...

Jed, that's true. Overall, I really liked the series.

As far as this whole--ahem--"choking the chicken" matter goes, my thoughts are threefold: 1) If the baby won't stop crying, that's what very large doses of cough syrup are for; 2) Given how peasant societies tend to be, I doubt the mother herself put that high a premium on the kid's life to begin with; and 3) Maybe the prospect of being discovered by the North Koreans wouldn't be so alarming if Hawkeye and company hadn't thrown a fit over any use of a gun for the whole duration of the show. Just saying.

AndrewPrice said...

Wow, that's all kinds of bleak. Talk about an inappropriate ending for a sitcom, especially one aimed at kids.

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, I never saw the last episode of the X-Files. The show lost me right around the time they lost Duchovny and I never went back.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott and T-Rav, I looked it up. I remember the ads, but I never watched it. I wasn't watching much TV around the time it was on.

Anonymous said...

Andrew; You didn't miss anything.
GypsyTyger

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, I figured. Even the people I knew at the time who were still watching it weren't recommending it. They said that Patrick was better than expected, but they had a hard time caring about the show.

PikeBishop said...

Andrew: Now on to something we agree on. The final episode of Blackadder IV. When I taught sophomore world history we always ended with World War I at the close of the fifth grading period. On the last day I showed them that episode, but first briefing them on satire (tying into their English classes) and of course, introducing them to the characters.

They then had to do the following:


Assignment: Students may write a brief (1-2 page) paper analyzing the satirical elements of this television show. Papers are due before 9:30 Monday April 10 and will count as a replacement quiz grade.

Topics:
1. British soldiers were lions led by asses!” wrote a military critic of the generals responsible for the disaster at the Somme. Discuss this quote, citing evidence from the show, especially the character of General Melchitt.
2. Discuss the use of satire in Blackadder’s comparisons of the British military during the wars of imperialism to the situation in World War I.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that was kinda how I felt about it. Apparently, so did my subconscious, to judge from the subsequent dreams.

Kristina D said...

Yeah I agree about the XFiles, I went from being a big fangirl to having no cares to give about the last season. Would like to mention Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which had a decent finale in that the plot wasn't really much and actually didn't matter, but had just the right "feel" and managed to touch on everything important to the viewers which is more than you can say for most shows. Ironically XFiles creator Chris carter once said no show should go on more than 5 seasons.

tryanmax said...

This topic makes me realize just how few shows have carried me through to the end. Most of what captures my imagination dies young. Carnivàle was canceled without ceremony. Invasion Alcatraz At least Firefly got a feature film to wrap it up.

AndrewPrice said...

Pike, What a way to ruin a sitcom... a written report! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Yeah, makes sense. That's a lousy thing to do.

AndrewPrice said...

Kristina, I loved the X-Files, but they slowly lost me to the point that I simply didn't care. I think the five year rule is a good one unless you have something really specific planned. Five years seems to be the peak for most shows.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'm really annoyed that Carnivale ended without a resolution. That show was really getting good right when it ended. Even more annoying, apparently, everyone wanted it to continue, but money became the issue.

PikeBishop said...

Andrew: RE Carnivale: HBO offered Daniel Knauf a two hour movie to tie up his vision, which was to span 5 seasons and 12 years of time.

He told them to SHOVE IT, and left it TV's greatest "Unifinished Symphony."

There is something to be said for artistic integrity.

PikeBishop said...

Andrew and Kristina: to me, X-Files jumped the shark with season 6, after Duchovney's ego forced them to relocate to California. The first episode, which had them careening through a brightly lit desert, just did not seem like the dark, dim atmospheric show we had come to love, thanks to its (cheap) Canadian locations. Also that season had about seven episodes that DID NOT EXIST, such as the Christmas ghost episode or the World War II time travel episode. It seemed like the producers were playing us for suckers.

tryanmax said...

Pike, TV is a fickle thing and anyone with an artistic vision should know that going in. An offer of a two-hour movie is gracious by TV standards (as is ample warning of impending cancellation). If you're not prepared to wrap up your story faster than originally planned, you're just being a jerk toward the fans.

tryanmax said...

P.S. - I was happier not knowing that bit of trivia.

Anonymous said...

shawn wins with the best being Black Adder Goes Forth, just the most amazing way to end the series, the only comedy that ends by bringing a tear to your eyes.

I did like the Seinfeld ending, it wasn't perfect but it bought back a lot of good memories. Cheers was done a bit better though.

Worst for me was Firefly as that show didn't even get a finale, it deserved a season or two at the very least. We were robbed from a potential disappointing finale.

Scott.

rlaWTX said...

And for best description of a finale show, the winner with #$%^&@ is GypsyTiger! That had me laughing...

I remember watching the MASH finale with my family - and the last hour was great. I still watch it when it pops up. And then Klinger got his own show...
both Buffy and Angel were good.
I also remember the St Elsewhere and Newhart endings.
CSI:NY was a good-enough ending... even though I would have rathered that it continue.
Seinfeld was bad. But I've also noticed that Friends repeats are more watchable than Seinfeld repeats.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I hope your thesis went well! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, LOL! "We were robbed from a potential disappointing finale." That's optimistically pessimistic... nicely done! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Pike, I agree -- that's when things started to go wrong. At that point, Duchovny seemed to start treating the show like a hobby and it started downhill.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It is kind of annoying knowing that. :( Who says that knowledge is always good.

tryanmax said...

Someone's gonna have to explain to me about the X-files episodes that "DID NOT EXIST". Is that a statement of denial? Or is that statement as interesting as it sounds?

Backthrow said...

I'd have to agree that NEWHART had the ending to top them all, even though I never really watched the show much (my dad was a fan, at the time) --the Larry, Darryl & Darryl shtick, etc, got to be a bit much for me-- and I always liked the 1970s BOB NEWHART SHOW better, but that's why the NEWHART finale was so great. :7)

THE FUGITIVE had a solid, satisfying ending, though it suffers a little, only because there were several episodes, particularly in the middle of the 4-year run, that were truly excellent on all counts, and the finale wasn't quite up to their level.

THE PRISONER ending was a total mind-f**k, maybe a little too much for me, but I still liked it, and it fit with the series' style and tone.

LOST's finale didn't bother me in the least. I was in it for the characters and the craziness, regardless of whether there was a coherent 'master plan' or 'answers' behind all the mysteries concocted by the writers. Another mind-f**k, though not as intellectually deep as THE PRISONER. Still, I liked it.

THE SOPRANOS ending didn't upset me, either; I got the same impression of Tony's paranoid p.o.v. that Andrew did, when I first watched it. Not a super-great ending, but not bad, either, and pretty appropriate for the series, which was primarily about what was going on in Tony's head, anyway.

I remember the MASH ending well, when it premiered. Also solid, though typically over-dramatic/preachy. I have no desire to revisit it, since the 1970 movie (which I first saw after the series ended) is superior in all departments.

TWIN PEAKS' ending was a mess, but then, so was almost everything about season 2.

Too many hurried/truncated endings to good series that got the axe too early: TERRIERS, CARNIVALE (though I overall liked the 2nd season less than the 1st), DEADWOOD, DEAD LIKE ME, PUSHING DAISIES, FIREFLY (but at least they got a big-screen movie)...

I never watched SEINFELD, ROSEANNE, ST. ELSEWHERE, BLACK ADDER nor barely any X-FILES, so I can't comment on those finales, except I remember the talk about ST. ELSEWHERE's end, and saw the last shot/sequence excerpted.

WKRP IN CINCINNATI (greatest sitcom ever) had a decent ending episode, where Dr. Johnny Fever is more business-savvy than one would guess, and calls out Mama Carlson on the real reason why she put her son in charge, and the original, sorry state of the radio station.

My memory is very fuzzy on it, but I seem to vaguely remember BARNEY MILLER having a really good ending, perhaps spread across 2-3 final episodes.

If Ice Age starvation & death succeeded in finally silencing that obnoxious little "Gotta love me!" baby dino on DINOSAURS (a show I deliberately avoided), then that finale was well worth it, even if the show was aimed at kids. I can sleep more peacefully now.

Jubal Early said...

Scott-

Some shows go on past their expiration date and after a couple of extra seasons, they get a celebrated "Series Finale" while others are cut down before they can find their audience. Does that seem right to you?

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! "Does that seem right to you?"

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'm not sure what you're talking about? The episodes that don't exist?

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, I don't remember the ending to WKRP.

On The Prisoner, I like the ending... it fits. But I also wish it had given us more because I still can't figure it out. I would have liked a little more in that regard.

tryanmax said...

See Pike's comment above.

AndrewPrice said...

Oh, ok. I think Pike means that the episodes were self-contained and then ignored by the series. Essentially, you saw them, but they weren't part of the story.

I liked the Christmas Ghost story, it was fun.

shawn said...

I love me some X-Files and I watched it to the lackluster end and I freely admit that show ran out of steam starting in the fifth season, but Carter is wrong about the 5 season thing.

Deep Space Nine got better as it went along and went out on top with it's seventh season.

Cheers is another one that maintained quality over it's eleven seasons. My personal favorite episode is in the last season in which Frasier helps to get Woody elected to the the city council.

NCIS is still pretty dang entertaining too and it is fixing to enter it's eleventh season.

Of course it didn't help the X-Files to make it seem like they had a destination in mind with their myth-arc. As I understand it, Carter wanted to do five seasons and then switch over to a movie every 2-3 years, but Fox didn't want to give up their t.v. cash cow. It didn't help that Duchovny pulled a David Caruso, but at least he went longer than 26 episodes. Not being able to hold on to Glen Morgan and James Hong didn't help either, but it did lead to Darin Morgan and later, Vince Gilligan.

Like I said, it went on too long, but I loved it to the end.

shawn said...

Bah, that should read James Wong, not Hong.

Kenn Christenson said...

Andrew, RE: "The Prisoner." I don't think this interview answers all the questions - but it does cover quite a bit of what McGoohan intended for "The Prisoner:" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiIUnCMpGbM

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I think that the key is to stop when you start running out of ideas.

AndrewPrice said...

Kenn, Thanks! :) I'll check that out later today,.

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