Sunday, May 13, 2012
TV Finale Talk
Tonight is the series finale of the ABC show DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. This is big business in my house, and I have been relegated to the other room, left to think about some of my favorite series finales in recent history, while the latest finale plays out in my house, on the other side of two closed doors.
The first finale I remember happening in my life was the last episode of M*A*S*H. I don’t know much about M*A*S*H, except it starred Alan Alda and was about the Korean War. I actually always confused it with HOGAN’S HEROES. To this day, the M*A*S*H finale is the most watched in TV history, something like 107 million people watched. I don’t know if the show itself was hugely popular, but for some reason, the finale has never been surpassed in viewership. What happened in this episode to garner a Superbowl-sized audience? I don’t know. I was waiting for HOGAN’S HEROES to come on.
OK, here comes the sitcom finale montage, in no particular order. NEWHART, it was all just a dream. That was cool. THE COSBY SHOW was a big one. I can’t remember what happened. CHEERS ended with Sam Malone standing behind the bar by himself, “Sorry, bar’s closed.” ROSEANNE was a great finale. It was sad and clever. How she had been writing the story the whole time on her own typewriter, changing events to appease her sense of good storytelling. THE WONDER YEARS was the saddest finale I’ve ever seen. I still get choked up a bit when I watch it. ST. ELSEWHERE was nothing but the workings of an autistic child’s mind. SEINFELD’s ending was brilliant, the gang arrested for breaking the Good Samaritan Law then ending up in prison together, leaving the door open for a revival. I thought the 90210 finale sucked, but the DAWSON’S CREEK finale was surprisingly well done (Jennifer dying, Pacey gets Joey).
FRIENDS just kind of ended, Ross got Rachel, of course, but he also got 83 million people to watch the last episode. WILL & GRACE was a show about their four-way friendship that ended on the premise of their friendship having gone dry for 20+ years. Disappointing. SEX & THE CITY was a good series ruined by two terrible movies. I wish I had stuck with SIX FEET UNDER. The finale was amazing, but I was too disconnected. I wish I had been a part of the LOST experience, because that seemed like a cool finale, but I had no idea what was going on. I watched the first five episodes of THE SHIELD and the last five, nothing in between. HOUSE is on the way out. Great show. I’ll be watching the finale, if I haven’t already missed it.
I just got a DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES update. Bre has apparently been acquitted of murdering Gabby’s father, but Gabby and Carlos actually killed him, and Karen has confessed. I have no idea what any of that means, but it sounds thrilling.
Anyway, there are many series finales that I liked (FRASIER), some I didn’t (KING OF QUEENS), and others that I was too young to remember (MARY TYLER MOORE) or not faithful enough to the show to understand (DALLAS). But the best finale ever is, of course, THE SOPRANOS finale, fade to black screen. Did Tony die or not? Many hints throughout the last season led viewers to believe that this would be TS’s final stand. The first episode of that season features a conversation between Tony and Bobby, where the two men talk about the end. “In the end, the lights just go out.” Many believe Tony died in that New Jersey juke joint. Others believe the building blows up, etc, etc. I think Tony lived, and when the screen switches in and out of his perspective, Tony is hawk-eyeing everyone and everything, filled with fear and paranoia. The people he’s watching aren’t meant to be ‘clues,’ it’s just a reflection of the way Tony sees the world. Everyone is a potential threat. In that moment we get a glimpse of what it was like to be Tony for the past ten years, the constant paranoia and mental torture of being the Crime Boss. So why did the lights go out as Tony waited for Meadow to make it inside the restaurant? I think TS had another panic attack. Why not?
But that’s the brilliance of the greatest finale ever. We can never know what happened, but we’ll debate it until the end of time. Everything about THE SOPRANOS was perfection, right until the final scene of the final episode. God, I miss that New Jersey crew of gangsters, drug dealers, and killers. Great people, they were. As much as I’d like to see a revival of the Soprano family, I hope David Chase doesn’t go there. Leave it alone. Nothing will ever touch THE SOPRANOS.
I'm being called to watch the last hour of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. So that means it’s time for me to put a cap on all this TV talk. Have I missed any GREAT or TERRIBLE or SOUL SUCKING TV show finales?
Last scene of THE SOPRANOS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqpDxCo2vic
Best TV Finales ever: www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20302134_20387623_20789048,00.html#20603513