The finale for a series has a heavy load to bear. It must pay tribute to beloved characters, sending them off to a bright (or bleak) future, often while putting a new spin on the entire series, and appeasing loyal fans. The more beloved a series is, the more intense the pressure is to come up with a satisfying finale. Some shows succeed at this, some fail miserably. This week, I'll be taking a look at some of the best and worst of all time. Today: the worst.
10.) Veronica Mars
At the time the third season finale was written, Rob Thomas and his compatriots were still not sure if everybody's favorite teen detective since Nancy Drew would be back for a fourth season. Still, what with the poor network support and the possibility of season four jumping ahead to Veronica at the FBI, there should have been enough warning to wrap things up in a more satisfying manner. Keith regained his post as sheriff only to lose it again (presumably). Veronica winds up with ... PIZ? Unacceptable! For a series that ended its first two seasons with stellar, surprise-filled, satisfying finales, this wasn't even a very good season finale.
9.) Stargate: SG-1
The final episode of this long-running sci-fi series killed of the Asgaard, and forced us to watch the main characters, who had become stuck in time, while away years on a space ship. When it was over, we all felt like we were the ones stuck in an endless time loop.
Two words: No Brenda? Sure, it would probably have been a blood bath, but who wouldn't want to see that? Donna and David's wedding was no surprise. Kelly reuniting with Dylan was, but who really believed that would last more than a week or two? (I guess we'll find out this fall, unless we don't get to see anything about the romantic life of West Beverly's new guidance counselor.)
7.) The X-Files
David Duchovny came back to end the series, but the answers fans had been anticipating for nine seasons (well, okay, most of us gave up after seven) weren't forthcoming. Although I hear the upcoming movie doesn't delve too much into the complicated show mythology, I still hope it will help some of us get closure.
Sure, we all know J.J. Abrams likes to push the envelope when it comes to mind games, but this sweet series about college friends was not the right place to start. The last few episodes of the series presented an alternate reality, sending Felicity back in time six months to fix the mistakes she made with Ben and Noel. The problem? Due to running time issues, we never really got to find out what happened to Elena, who was killed in the initial reality, but appeared very briefly in the wedding scene at the end of the final episode. Lost fans had better hope Abrams has learned his lesson. (The Alias finale barely missed this list.)
They blew up the whole town? Unless the town your show is set in is situated on a Hellmouth, this is not a suitable series ending. (And yes, that is a spoiler for tomorrow's 10 Best list.)
4.) Mad About You
While casting Janeane Garofalo as the Buchman's adult daughter was genius, no one wanted to hear that Paul and Jamie split up, even if they did eventually get back together.
I drifted away from Friends during the second half of its run, but one thing I liked best about it was that once Ross and Rachel broke up, the writers let them be broken up for good, have separate lives, and be friends. (Except, of course, for the one-night-stand that resulted in Emma's birth.) Maybe it's my inner feminist talking, but it really got my goat that Rachel gave up a fabulous career opportunity to be with Ross. Doesn't the Sorbonne have an anthropology department?
2.) St. Elsewhere
In one of the most bogus moves since Patrick Duffy appeared alive and well in the shower at the beginning of season 9 of Dallas, six seasons of moving, compelling drama turns out to all be the imaginings of an autistic boy. Not only was it totally implausible, it was a stunt for the sake of being a stunt.
The entire final season of Roseanne was a like something a crack addict would come up with. The Connors won the lottery, and what followed was one more ridiculous "adventure" after another. It might have worked for another show, but not one that was so celebrated for its portrayal of the working class. In the finale, Roseanne's voice-over revealed that the entire series was a novel she'd written after Dan died of a heart attack. Bringing Dan back to life wasn't the only change she made, though; she switched Becky and Darlene's husbands, and apparently in real life Jackie was a lesbian.
The Seinfeld and Sopranos finales are much reviled, but I left them off for different reasons. Although the Seinfeld ender wasn't great, I didn't think it was as terrible as everybody else. The trial premise at least provided an opportunity to bring back popular bit players, and I always thought these characters were what made the show great in the first place. And The Sopranos? Maybe a TV writer shouldn't admit this, but I haven't seen it yet. Now that I know how it ends, it's moved to the bottom of my catch-up-on-DVD list.
But enough with the negativity! Check in tomorrow for the "10 Best Series Finales."
* * *
Amy Kane spends as much quality time with her television as possible, when she's not busy at her day job as a cube dweller.