Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Talkback: Where would you have ended your favorite shows?

Yesterday I talked a lot about the Chuck finale and in looking around the internet, I've seen a great many fans opine that there were early finales that they'd prefer to think of as the end of the show.  It seems to me that's a great point of discussion.  If you could have ended some of your favorite shows at an earlier point, what earlier episodes would you have chosen as the finale?

Some ground rules: you can't rewrite history.  That is to say, you can't say, "I'd end Cheers in season 8, but I'd bring Diane back for the finale."  You can stop the show at any point - it doesn't have to be at the end of a particular season, but you can't invent a new episode or plot twist for the finale. And when you set the end point, you have to be able to defend why that particular ending works for you.

As an example, I probably would have ended The Simpsons with its 11th season finale, "Behind the Laughter." That episode is told in the style of VH1's "Behind the Music" and is something of a retrospective of the series, adopting the conceit that Homer and his family are actors who have been playing themselves as characters in the long-running series.  The next season is where The Simpsons really began its decline, and "Behind the Laughter" would have been a fitting swan song.

But that's just one example. What are your picks?


  1. At the end of the Sopranos I would've had someone whack Tony Soprano.

  2. I think 'Supernatural' is a good contender to have ended after Season Five. Okay, there was that last second twist to setup the next year, but even with that it was a logical place to end things. S6 and S7 have been patchy at best despite flashes of brilliance, and I think a fair few people would agree that when Kripke left as showrunner, he shoulda taken his show with him.

    Buffy is another good one - Season Five was a dark but perfect point to end the show, with Buffy giving her life to save the world and her sister. It wasn't until midway through S7 that the show picked up again - let's not talk about Season Six!

    24 shouldn't have bothered with its final season either. It felt like a parody of itself once we had the ridiculous Annual CTU Mole twist, and given how barnstorming S7 was from start to finish and the brilliant, intimate finale, that was where to draw the line.

    Stargate SG-1 is a funny one - much as I love the show, and the fact it wrote three potential series finales (S6, S7 and S8), S9 was both fabulous start to finish and its finale was built as a huge cliffhanger. S10 feels unfinished as a result of the unexpected cancellation, so not really sure where I'd say stop for that one?

  3. Entourage - Anything else. So probably two seasons back before Vince ever got in a car crash and started dating a porn star. The last two seasons were painful.
    Prison Break - If it had been cancelled at the very end of season 2 and they wrapped it up slightly better, than I would've been happier. Season 4 just got way too out of control for me.
    Family Guy - At the end of Season 3 when it was actually cancelled.
    24 - Season 6 after Jack gets brought back from China. That should've been the final mission.
    House MD - The season finale they shot on the 5d. That would've been better to end than what it's become.
    Scrubs - Should've ended with season 6 and just had Braff end up with Banks.

  4. Californication - end of season 3. The stuff in the pool had a sense of levity to it. All of Hank's mistakes over the life if the series were coming to take their toll. Not a happy ending, but Hank had finally learned what impact his actions had on the people he cared about most.

    Season 4 shit on that moment and I've not watched anything this season.

  5. Mine is still going, and getting worse and worse as it does: The Office (US), I would have ended it a season or so again when Michael left. As funny as the Will Ferrell crossover episodes were, it was hardly worth seeing the characters completely destroyed at the end like this. The writers took Andy through a great character arc from horrible to endearing. Now they are right back where they started and every scene he's in is painful.

    My ending would've been at the airport with Michael. He takes off his mic, gives it back to the documentary crew, politely says goodbye to them and leaves. Pam runs up to him and says goodbye in the terminal while they film. Beautiful scene. She says some final words to them about MIchael, boom. Done. They had a great chance to end it gracefully and now I don't know what this mess is but it sucks.

    1. Great call on this. I wanted to like this season, but it's definitely been lacking

  6. Series 6 of Red Dwarf ended with the paradoxical deaths of most of the cast, a slightly ambiguous shot of Starbug exploding, and the caption "TO BE CONTINUED". Intended as a cliffhanger, it served as the show's swansong for years — and a bloody good one it was too.

    Series 7 suffered because writer Rob Grant and actor Chris Barrie both left the show. It wasn't dreadful by any means — but series 8 was. Both the premise and style of the show changed completely, all but dropping the clever sci-fi aspects in favour of farcical plots and recycled ideas from previous series, and the characters became over the top and annoying. It became The Mighty Boosh In Space, which it was never any good at being. It ended with an unresolvable and slightly stupid cliff-hanger, despite there being no plans to make another series. The recent "Back To Earth" specials were better, but only really because ideas, plotlines and jokes were lifted almost verbatim from episodes from the show's heyday. The original aspects were mostly jarring and inappropriate, and it lived in a fuzzy hinterland between being a continuation and a reboot.

    When Rob Grant was asked what he thought of series 8, he replied that he hadn't watched it because series 7 was so bad. I think he said it was "not what [he] set out to do" and "nothing to do with [him]". When a show's co-creator says that, I think it's time to stop.