Sunday, August 15, 2010

That's It

Here's a list from TV Squad of seven "satisfying" TV finales. I never watched Angel, but the others I'm familiar with: The Fugitive, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H, Cheers, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Babylon 5.

An odd list. I'd say the only finale that succeeded is The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

I understand, for instance, that Richard Kimble finally meeting the one-armed man was satisfying in a way, but the main thing it did was ensure no one would feel the need to watch reruns of The Fugitive.

The M*A*S*H ending was excruciating. Two and a half hours of people hugging and saying goodbye. That may be a lot of things, but it's not entertainment.

Babylon 5 had a different problem. The fourth season was the finale (and it wasn't even the most exciting part of the story), and the fifth season felt like a P.S.

I think the problem here is the author of the piece has confused "satisfying" with "giving a sense of closure." If everyone gets run over by a bus, that's closure. Satisfying should mean a payoff that's highly entertaining, puts the show in perspective, and fits what we've seen in the past. If it can even go beyond that, then you've got a classic.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Agreed with respect to Babylon 5.

The Angel finale was indeed spectacular. Joss Whedon had perhaps learned from his overly syrupy Buffy finale. His most recent show, Dollhouse, had an awesome finale after a mediocre show, which isn't exactly the ideal either!

I did like the ST:TNG finale. In fact, that's one reason the TNG movies were so unimpressive: despite being often mediocre, the show had produced three or four truly good two-hour shows (two parters, and the two hour finale), and the movies were simply not as good as those shows.

Tangent: Can a show ever have a great finale if it has already jumped the shark? I don't think so.

11:41 AM, August 15, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some shows unjump the shark, but it's exceedingly rare.

1:35 PM, August 15, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forget- was there a run-up to the end of the Mary Tyler Moore show or was the whole shake-up plot in one episode (extended perhaps?)

I know most shows did not have the ongoing narrative and mainly did stand alone shows (except for two parters and special situations like Carroll O'Connors' contract dispute absence on All In The Family).

LA Guy- I know you have all of the episodes- what was the next-to-last MTM about? NEG

8:16 AM, August 16, 2010  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I was pretty satisfied with the finale of Twin Peaks. It is a cliff-hanger, in the sense thatthe door is open to continuethe series (or do a movie), but all the major issues of three years were answered. Unfortunately, the follow on movie was a prequel.

I also agree Star Trek TNG had a good finale.

I think Friends did a pretty good job. It wasn't the end of the characters (you could imagine the rest of their lives), it was just the end of the show.

But the best was the end of Newhart, where Bob Hartley wakes up nextto his wife (Susan Pleshet) and tells her he had this weird dream about owning a lodge in Vermont.

8:58 AM, August 16, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

MTM had general arcs over the seasons (such as the story of Ted and Georgette) but every episode was stand-alone. They never even did a two-parter. The entire shake-up happened in the final, half-hour episode. In their next to last episode, they finally had Lou and Mary date just to see what would happen (nothing did).

9:27 AM, August 16, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with Twin Peaks' finale to season 1* was that there was a much weirder and less interesting season 2 that came after it.

*DG- I assume you are speaking of the "who killed Laura Palmer?" season (Gen. Briggs- "Maybe Bob s just the evil that men do.")

I have no memory of how season 2 ended- I lost interest with all the backward-talking dwarf in the white lodge scenes. Was there a season 3?

10:45 AM, August 16, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah the Twin Peaks debacles- the finale to Season 1 happened in the middle of season 2. The 2d half od season 2 then went complete nutters. And I think Albert, Dale Cooper's FBI colleague played by Miguel Ferrer may have said the line Bob being the evil in all of us.

I don't like finales- I like series that die naturally like most people- ignored and attenuated.

1:02 PM, August 16, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Must disagree: Twin Peaks is the only show I can think of that un-jumped the shark. The Laura Palmer mystery ended early in Season Two, and the show got awful -- the worst was the guy who started building civil war dioramas. Then at the very end, the White Lodge / Black Lodge thread took over, and the final scene was perhaps the scariest thing I've ever seen on television. A great finale.

I can't think of any other show that un-jumped the shark. Dollhouse, which I mentioned above, doesn't count: The show was cancelled, and in the two-part finale Whedon showed the world five years later. I guess it was what he would have done if the show had lasted five years. And that world was much more interesting than the show had been.

1:44 PM, August 16, 2010  
Blogger New England Guy said...

I think very few people saw the actual Twin Peaks finale having given up long before then-- I will check it out

8:51 AM, August 17, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

If you have the time, check out the final three episodes: "The Path to the Black Lodge", "Miss Twin Peaks", and "Beyond Life and Death". The first two of these have several plots going, most of which are dumb. But the Black Lodge / White Lodge plot is also going in these two episodes, and becomes dominant in the finale.

5:17 PM, August 18, 2010  

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