Lee Goldberg has a great post tonight about the best and worst finales of long-running TV series. Nobody knows more or writes better about TV than Lee. And his list brings back many good memories.
My favorites among his favorites are
The Mary Tyler Moore Show--where everybody gets fired except Ted
Newhart--where Bob wakes up in bed not with his current wife but his wife from the previous series
The Fugitive--the ultimate confrontation
Larry Sanders--one of the most melancholy wrap-ups I've ever seen, three people you really care about each other--friends and enemies and friends forever
Of Lee's Worst I'd have to go with
Seinfeld-The whole thing hinges on them mocking and making fun of a grossly obese man and for me anyway that was completely out of character. Yes, they were self-centered and shallow and vain (except of course for poor George) but there were many episodes in which they tried to repair their mistakes and help people--the Puerto Rican busboy who lost his job and his cat for just one instance. They were never cruel and this false note did the whole thing in for me. Plus it just wasn't funny.
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Ed, I agree, that last episode of Seinfeld was completely out of character for the show, and it felt almost like you were watching a different series. It was awful on so many different levels. Maybe they're redeem themselves when the cast shows up on Curb Your Enthusiasm this season.
The very best series finale was Six Feet Under--the last 4 minutes or so of it was absolutely stunning.
Good choices and SIX FEET UNDER too.
ST ELSEWHERE's was a strange one. I could never decide if it was profound or ridiculous. I guess there's a fine line between the two.
With SEINFELD, I think Larry David wanted to express some contempt for what the series had become in the last two/three seasons...which is to say, continually not funny and running on empty. They were cruel to the extent that, at about the time of Susan's death, they seemed to not care too much about what havoc they (admittedly usually inadvertantly) might cause.
M*A*S*H...I thought Hawkeye's therapy rather easy...and the notion of focusing the episode on his trauma, when it was more the mother's, had an unfortunate flavor of the later spate of films about apartheid that always seemed to be about how it inconvenienced white people in South Africa.
The whole last season of HAWAII FIVE-O was a joke, but I enjoyed how the last episode, in 1980, made clear how foolish the Reagan Admin push for SDI was ("The satellite-based laser Wo Fat wants us to contrcut can be used against missiles...or cities--but Wo would never do that!").
One of the better endings for a bad series was for I MARRIED DORA, a sitcom with Elizabeth Pena as a Mexican-national nanny/maid who marries her boss for citizenship...where things went Very badly for the cast in the last episode, only to have Pena announce that all didn't really matter, since their series was cancelled, anyway. Meta enough for the '80s.
Thanks for nailing exactly on the head what irked me about the "Seinfeld" finale.
How about MASH and Barney Miller?
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