Final Finale

They should stop doing finales for TV series for one, simple reason.

They suck.

Okay, not ALL of them. Just the vast majority. And the fact is, most TV series are created, by design, to be open-ended. They aren’t meant to have finales (with the exception of shows like “Lost in Space” or “Gilligans Island” which, by the way, DIDN’T have finales). For decades, they simply didn’t do them. Did “Gunsmoke” have a finale? Did “The Dick Van Dyke Show”? “All in the Family?” “Bonanza?” “Rockford Files?” “Green Acres?” “Murder She Wrote?” “Wild Wild West?” “Man From UNCLE?” You get the point.

Sure, there have been some great finales… The Fugitive, M*A*S*H, Mary Tyler Moore, Newhart, Star Trek: The Next Generation, St. Elsewhere, Cheers, Barney Miller…to name a few (and there are only a few).

But there have been many, many more finales that were truly awful, well below the quality of the most mediocre episode of the respective shows… Hill Street Blues, Magnum, Dallas, Miami Vice, Quantum Leap, Homicide, Seinfeld, Moonlighting, Roseanne, Mad About You, Murphy Brown, Deep Space Nine…

Couldn’t we have lived without those final episodes? Wouldn’t it have been better to be left with our fond memories? There are fans of “Married With Children” who are still peeved the Bundys didn’t get a finale.
They should consider themselves lucky.

Usually, the finale is the weakest, most melodramatic episode in the series’ entire run. Like the dull finales of “Friends” and “Frasier” (which was, at least, occasionally funny in its final hour).

It’s reached the point that the producers of any series that lasts longer than 13 episodes feel entitled to a finale for “the sake of the fans,” to give the show “closure.” I’m still aching for the “Birds of Prey” finale, aren’t you?

Wouldn’t we rather believe the characters live on forever? Do we really need to “wrap things up?” Why can’t we go on thinking the characters are continuing on their endless, episodic loop… having one adventure or comedic situation after another? We can… and should. For the most part, finales are only a ratings stunts.

The only thing less necessary that the series finale is the reunion. Can you say “Mary & Rhoda?” Or “The Dick Van Dyke Show Reunion?” But that’s another rant for another day.

2 thoughts on “Final Finale”

  1. I’m a few days late in commenting on your final episodes rant, but I must completely agree. The best reason to tune into the Friends finale was so you could understand all the word-for-word scathing parodies on SNL last week. I skipped the finale of Frasier, hoping to maintain my own open-ended state of bliss. I, for one, find I don’t need closure. Imagine that.
    However, I was moved to write to you because of the most memorable series finales–one you mentioned–the final episode of St. Elsewhere. That one was so profound, I have explained it to my kids when trying to illustrate the concept of irony and perspective. Loved that.
    But creative arguments aside, the networks are not about to let the series finales die. Too promotable.
    Love reading your commentary, Lee. And best of luck with your Diagnosis Murder books.
    Jerrilyn Farmer

  2. I like finales. I like closure. Of course, I also like the idea of characters continuing to live their lives doing the same stuff without us seeing. Yeah, I’m conflicted.
    I still say I had the best idea for a Murder, She Wrote finale. Entitled “That’s All She Wrote,” it finds Jessica coming back as a ghost to solve her own murder.
    And here you thought I was a nice guy. 🙂


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