Two That Got It Right

Now Playing: Oh My Sweet Carolina, by Ryan Adams. “I ain’t never been to Vegas, but I gambled up my life, Building newsprint boats I race to sewer mains. Was trying to find me something but I wasn’t sure just what, Funny how they say that “some things never change.”

I didn’t watch the Lost finale last night. I only watched a part of the first season and a little bit of the second, jumping off for good when the whole Dharma Initiative thing was introduced. Never looked back.

But I understand that most folks were disappointed by the wrapup episode last night. Whatever.

That’s the way of most wrapups. Putting a bow on things, whether in a movie or the last show of a series, rarely captures the essence of what made the show good in the first place. Look at Seinfeld. Too much of that finale was forced and not funny. In a show about nothing (and I really liked it, by the way), nothing mattered. I didn’t like M*A*S*H, found it too preachy and very predictable. It’s finale was maudlin and unbelievable in too many places. Never like Newhart, but I did like the way that ended – a nod to the vastly superior The Bob Newhart Show.

But as far as tying-up-the-loose-ends episodes go, I can only think of two.

One, of course, is the greatest finale of all: The final episode of The Fugitive. To me, it was one of the best shows on television in the first place. And this episode was stellar, with Dr. Kimble finally catching the one-armed man in a fantastic amusement park hunt with Lt. Gerard, who by this time was helping him. Every bit of it was believable, including the cowardly neighbor who had seen the one-armed man kill Kimble’s wife but never come forward. But the key was the characters in the finale acted just like they did in the other parts of the series. Of course, they had the luxury of setting up the finale during the entire season, because they knew from the get-go they were shutting down.

The other series with a fulfilling finale was Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, a favorite of my boys when it ran from 2003 to 2007 on Nickelodeon. The series was a really good look at junior high school that seemed like it was written by people who actually had gone to junior high school – as opposed to That 70s Show, which had to have been written by people who didn’t actually live through the 70s. It had superheroes, ninjas, art thieves, dumb adults (a staple on kid shows), a wise adult (Ned’s science teacher) and a bit of romance. It was funny and cute and I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed it. I was glad the boys rarely missed the show.

Other than those, most shows would have been better to have just ended it. Though I do wonder if The Invaders ever took over the earth or if Roy Thinnes was able to stop them, and whether Alias Smith and Jones ever got their pardons and just what the deal was on the mysterious sea creature in Surface and …

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” _ Orson Welles


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