It's All So Finale...

I love this time of year. The weather starts getting warmer, but not hot. The skies are the crispest shade of blue, birds are chirping, and flowers are blooming. But most of all, it's season finale time! It means I can finally catch a break, and get to the things I've been neglecting throughout the past eight or nine months, such as my ridiculously long list of movies, or the last one or two George R.R. Martin books I've yet to read, or the cartoon I agreed to illustrate for my company's blog a few weeks ago without considering how rusty my drawing skills are and how 12 hours of commuting, working, and working out each day leave me a useless blob of mashed couch potato at night and on weekends.

There's still a few more shows airing their finales this weekend and early next week, and there will be some Summer viewing such as the return of True Blood and hopefully the airing of the final episodes of the prematurely pushing daisies Pushing Daisies. And with a ton of good movies in theaters, plus the full force return of band season which will be keeping me busy nearly every weekend going forward, it won't be long before I'm talking about season premieres.

I've already written in depth about the series finales of Scrubs and Galactica. I have just as much, if not more to say about how some of my other favorites ended up, especially Prison Break, the last five minutes of which left tears that are still drying on my face. I'll try to be brief though, and at times a little vague, as I touch upon each of the following in alphabetical order with a sentence or three or more with possible SPOILERS:

30 Rock:
This is the best written comedy on television, or at the very least the smartest. You have to listen to every line and watch every subtle gesture. I didn't get the M.A.S.H. reference right away about the chicken and the baby, but wow. The assemblage of musicians to raise money for the kidney was awesome, especially the line about “Declan McManus, International Art Thief”. As always, Tracy's expressions and delivery killed me, from his crying montage to calling Liz a “dumb cracker” to his speech to the high school kids(“Who told?”).

It would be an absolute crime if this show wasn't renewed for a third season. The balance of humor and action is perfect, as are the selections of songs. There was a line in the finale about “Sam Kinison and an Indian Lesbian” that was especially hilarious given the two guys it was referring to, while they sang Mr. Roboto. Adam Baldwin still kicks ass. Yvonne Strahovski still has great...assets. And Chuck? Chuck now “knows Kung Fu”. This show better be back.

I think Joss Whedon shows have a slow burn. He takes his time in introducing characters and setting up a premise. He carefully builds a house of cards. Then he shoots it with a leaf blower. That's what this season was like, a slow first few episodes that I wasn't sure of before the twists kept coming. If this Dollhouse wipes people's minds and plants new memories, who can you trust? How do you know someone is a Doll if they don't know themselves? And can you truly wipe the slate clean, or will there always be echoes, as with Dushku's appropriately named protagonist? As with Chuck, I really hope this gets renewed, although its ratings and timeslot both worked against it. Overall, it has a strong cast, but it was the amazing Alan Tudyk who stole the show in the last two episodes. And that's all I'll say about that, for now.

Here's another slow burn, J.J. Abrams' apparent homage to The X-Files. Except, all the threats in Fringe seem to be terrestrial in origin, and the FBI have the advantage of their very own mad scientist, whose missing memories and time in an asylum make for some humorous and frustrating obstacles. And though the threats all come from Earth, the biggest question now seems to be from which Earth. A surprise guest star showed up in the final minutes, playing a character who was talked about all season but never seen, and only heard once. And where this character showed up was one of the most shocking and powerful revelations I've ever seen, one that may or may not bother people. Within the context of the show, I understand why that location was chosen, as it gives the most immediate indication that where it is, is not where we are. Some things are the same; others are different. Fringe spent the last few months returning in 60-90 seconds, and will now return in 90 days, give or take a few.

Every season, this show manages to kill the same main characters without losing any actors. I wonder if the deaths that aren't deaths, twins, and doppelgangers arise out of comic book clichés or more popular stars negotiating contracts. In any case, they killed and kept one character in a very interesting way this time, and have left some of our heroes in the midst of a ticking time bomb who doesn't even remember the bomb part...yet. Next season, I can't wait to see how that plays out, but I'd also like to see some of the characters who were depowered or weakened regain some of the abilities they had earlier on.

Dear Lost: If you want me to cry about a character, you should spend time developing his or her relationship with someone else on the show. We feel the love, and we feel the loss when one of those people dies, especially if you do it in slow motion while we can't hear their cries of anguish, drowned out by your trademark sad string music that destroys me every time. If that's not enough, reveal that another favorite character might be dead while sheer evil is impersonating him or her, and then while we're recovering from that, go back and show us that first character isn't quite dead yet, until he or she maybe hits a nuke with a rock until it goes off and either destroys the island, resets history, or preserves history while sending a timelost bunch of ragtag heroes hurtling back to the future. As for my readers, if none of this makes any sense, you have until 2010 to watch five seasons of emotion and awesomeness.

My Name is Earl:
They finally address the paternity of those kids, at once revealing something I've suspected since the show began and something I didn't expect, and I'm hearing rumors that it hasn't been renewed yet. It's hit or miss, but it hits enough times that I'd miss these characters. At least this episode had TV's Tim Stack and the return of Norm MacDonald. That guy gets like one role a year; he must have another job, perhaps supports himself through stand-up.

Parks and Recreation:
A finale after six episodes? I'll watch if it comes back; I won't miss it much if it doesn't. It was a decent bridge show to watch in between better sitcoms.

Prison Break:
It was a concept that should not have supported more than one or two seasons, yet somehow did. One brother, framed for a murder he did not commit, is on death row. Another brother, an architect with a brilliant mind, gets himself arrested and sent to the same prison to save his brother. The first two seasons were phenomenal, while the third was okay as it balanced between repetition and unlikelihood. Season four saw a reinvention and a new quest, along with a different kind of imprisonment. Nothing was as it seemed, and betrayals were followed by revelations. In the end, the show was canceled, and the writers managed to get enough elements into the series finale to make it work as a season finale. It was the little things, from a pocket to a tattoo to a paper swan, that I really appreciated. It was hard to get emotional through the final scene, because my dad kept talking over it and asking questions as he missed key details(“Who's tombstone is that? Is that their mother's?”) After being glued to the couch for two hours, I went downstairs to empty my gym bag and the tears finally could be free. A proper direct-to-DVD finale is planned, which will bridge the gap between what was originally meant to be a season finale and a final heartbreaking montage. I'll definitely be getting that.

Surprisingly, for a show that's varied between great and trainwreck, this eighth season may have been the best yet. He made real progress toward becoming the hero he's destined to be and a ton of heroes, villains and other characters from the comics made their debut. That being said, for a show who's finales have traditionally been the strongest of the season, this wasn't one of the better ones. I don't mind that the big battle they've been building up to was so brief, because I know that it was round one and the real epic fight comes when he's an adult(even though technically the guy must be in his 30s by now). I'm a little concerned with the other heroes turning on him, but in a way it shows that they need stronger leadership and it may force him to finally step up. I think what bothered me the most was the death of an iconic major character, because he wasn't who we thought he was. At the funeral, we learn that the name they used for this guy was actually his middle name, and an unnamed kid brother shows up out of nowhere, who will probably grow up to be the guy we thought the first guy was. Sorry if that's vague, but those who saw the show should know what I mean and share my frustration. I guess it's better than the usual reset, which I was totally expecting from the moment someone disappears holding a time travel ring. Still, the image of a mysterious new threat over a burning “Z” at the end gives a pretty good hint about next year's villain. Hope they get it better than the last time they (sort of) used this character...

Heaven. Hell. Angels. Demons. The brink of armageddon. In the middle, two brothers, an unbreakable team in the fight against things that go bump in the night, are divided. One sides with the angels, making a vow that may bind him to a conflict he doesn't fully understand. Another joins with a demon, becoming the things they hunt in order to have the strength to destroy his prey. But nothing is as it seems, and destroying one threat is only the final seal preventing the release of a greater threat: Satan himself! As yet another show ends with a fade to white, I suspect the brothers are going to face something less charming and more diabolical than Ray Wise....

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
As a season finale, it was an amazing game-changing cliffhanger. Evil was good. Up was down. Robot was human. Past was future. Show was...cancelled? It doesn't look good, despite another theatrical film in the franchise coming out next week. Maybe I'll need to send someone back in time to change the minds of some programming executives....

The Office:
I'm sad that Michael Scott ultimately chose the old “wait and see” approach. I've let a lot of birds fly, and none of them have ever come back. Does that mean that they were never mine to begin with, or that the cliché is B.S.? Michael couldn't have made a bigger fool of himself after inadvertently revealing to a bunch of people that their branch was closing through an improv skit. He should have told her how he felt when he had the chance. As likely as it was that she would have rejected him anyway and gone back with her boyfriend, at least in that scenario there was the possibility. By saying nothing, he made it definite that she'd leave with the other guy. They told him they were building a house together, which makes his speech at the end about seeing her again the following year even sadder. Then again, it's television, so who knows. Meanwhile, I was pretty happy for Jim and Pam, who probably should move up their wedding date. Their reactions were great, and I loved that their expressions and gestures told the story when we couldn't hear their words. Also, the new receptionist is still cute and Dwight's new friend/clone was funny. I hope we see more of both next year. The company picnic wasn't quite as much fun as the café disco dance off from last week, but it was still a good note on which to end the season.


Blogger b13 said...

Prison Break was a great ending (on par with the Six Feet Under ending). When you get that DVD I'll need to check out that midquel.

I got back into Fringe through Hulu without missing a beat. Six more episodes to go... so I skipped over your comments about the Finale. I'll read it in a few days.

5/16/2009 10:13 AM  
Blogger Lorna said...

I lost Dollhouse two episodes before the season end---and missed Alan Tudyk who is always worth watching. without Hulu, I'm not sure how to catch up on Dollhouse but it's probably doable, even in Canada.

Your Netflix list would put me in need of prozac---awesome but impossible to achieve.

5/17/2009 10:09 PM  

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