Thursday, February 27, 2014

What are the best season finales of all time?

Going back to watch older television is a fun endeavor.

Recently, I’ve been sucked back into Lost. You can argue about the series finale of Lost until you’re blue in the face, but the truth is – Lost had some of the best season finales in history.

What am I talking about?

A lot of shows have gone out with a whimper when their series finales ultimately disappoint fans. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for example, had three of the best season finales on record but that series finale was a travesty.

So, I thought it might be fun to revisit some of the best season finales ever (series finales are not allowed).

So, what are they?

10. Gethsemane, The X-Files Season Four: The truth is out there and in the final episode of season
four, Fox Mulder was grappling with the certainty that he had been wrong, not right. All those aliens he’d been chasing? Well, it looked like the real government conspiracy was faking these alien altercations. Mulder didn’t handle the revelation well, and while Scully struggled to protect him from afar Mulder continued to chase the truth and it looked like that truth would end with Mulder’s death. Sure, fans know that Mulder didn’t really die – but those moments where he questioned himself on his life’s work were both powerful and terrifying.

9. The Reichenbach Fall, Sherlock Season Two: It’s probably not fair to include Sherlock here – especially since each season is only three episodes – but The Reichenbach Fall is so phenomenal it would be criminal to leave it off the list. As Sherlock finally comes face to face with Moriarty, he realizes that he doesn’t have a choice but to kill himself – in spectacular fashion – if he wants to protect his friends. With John Watson watching from the ground, Sherlock appears to step from a building and fall to his death – his friend looking on in horror and grief. Sure, as Watson visits Sherlock’s grave several weeks later, fans are shown that Sherlock somehow survived his fall. Still, though, the moments leading up to that revelation – including Moriarty being deranged enough to shoot himself in the head just so he could "win"  – are so terrific that fans of the series are still chattering about it.

8. The Telling, Alias Season Two: I’m not going to lie, Alias was up and down. Each season had
dizzying highs and terrifying lows. The pinnacle for Alias, though, came at the end of the second season. The Alias crew was never happy for long but it looked like Sydney and Vaughn were at least going to get a few minutes of happiness when things completely fell apart. The second season saw the end of SD6, the disappearance of Sloan and the murder of Sydney’s roommate Francie. While I never got the appeal of Francie, once they “doubled” her and placed a spy in Sydney’s own home, the show really picked up some momentum. In the season two finale, Sydney finds out that she’s the woman at the heart of the Rambaldi prophecy (and then watches her mother jump off the top of a building) and then goes home and realizes that Francie is not really Francie. After a bloody battle – one that appears to end with Sydney shooting (and killing) the Francie double before passing out – we flash to Sydney waking up on a Hong Kong street. She has no memory of how or why she’s there. When Vaughn comes to pick Sydney up, we find out a terrible truth: She’s been missing for two years. And, oh yeah, Vaughn is married. What a punch in the gut that was.

7. The Best of Both Worlds, Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Three: The first two seasons of the Star Trek spinoff weren’t great. Somewhere in season three, though, the show finally hit its stride. The season three finale found the Enterprise crew grappling with emotional and physical hardships. Riker found himself questioning his place on the Enterprise – while everyone else was just trying to survive. Once the Borg kidnap Picard, though, and turned him into a Borg things get really ugly. Riker has to take over as captain – something he doesn’t want to do – and fans are left wondering if Picard is truly lost. In the final moments of the season finale, Riker orders his shipmates to do the impossible: Fire on the Borg ship to destroy it – also destroying Picard at the same time. It’s a chilling order and fans were left with the summer to wait for the outcome.

6. Na Triobloidi, Sons of Anarchy Season Two: Translated into “The Troubles” (from Irish), Na
Triobloidi was a turning point in Sons of Anarchy lore. We found out that SAMCRO was going to keep getting bloodier (and that’s saying something) and that nothing was off limits. In season two, fans still had hope that Jax and Tara would get their happily ever after (everyone knows that’s not happening now), so just when it looked like Jax and Clay were about to win the day, viewers were socked in the gut with a kidnapping. The final scene, a beaten and despondent Jax falling to the ground and screaming at the loss of his son, is one that sticks with fans of the series even today.

5. Abyssinia, Henry, MASH Season 3: MASH was one of those rare shows that successfully managed to merge humor and drama – before it was popular. At its heart, MASH was about a group of military misfits – and Henry Blake was the head misfit. You can’t have a military show without some cast turnover, so it was no surprise when Henry Blake was due to rotate out of Korea and head back home. Fans thought Henry was getting a happy ending until Radar interrupted the doctors in the middle of surgery to say that Henry’s plane had gone down – and there were no survivors. The looks on the faces of every doctor and nurse in that operating room were heartbreaking and, yet, in the great tradition of television, they all continued to do their job. Henry Blake left a legacy of fun on MASH that was never quite captured again.

4. Swan Song, Supernatural Season Five: Supernatural only had a planned story arc for five seasons. And, the truth is, those five seasons are magic. The seasons since have been a rough road – and yet Supernatural is going into its 10th season next year. When it comes down to it, though, Supernatural’s greatest moment came in the angelic throwdown between Michael (who had taken over Adam’s body) and Lucifer (who had taken over Sam’s body). Even though he no longer had the strength to affect the outcome of the fight, Dean refused to abandon Sam to his fate. So, he arrived on the battlefield, received a bloody beating from Lucifer, and somehow managed to help Sam get control of Lucifer long enough to plunge into hell – taking Michael with him. Would it have been sad to see Sam go out that way? Yes, but it was a heroic death. From the opening strains of Wayward Son to the closing seconds of a lost Dean finding his way to the only place he had left to call home, the entire episode was perfection – even when we caught sight of a very much alive Sam watching Dean from afar in the closing seconds.

3. A House Divided, Dallas Season Three: Who shot JR? That was the biggest moment in television history for a very long time. Sure, the answer to the question was kind of a letdown, but watching the soap’s titular hero take one in the chest and drop down to what should have been certain death was a jarring moment for Dallas fans. Larry Hagman’s JR is one of those television characters that transcends the genre. Just last year, Hagman succumbed to cancer and JR – this time on the reboot – was finally killed off for real. While the reboot did a terrific job with Hagman’s send off, nothing will ever really topple JR’s gasp and chest clasp and viewers were forced to sit through several long months of doubt (remember, television reporting wasn’t as prevalent back in the day) about whether or not JR would survive.

2. The Gift, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Five: This is another show that could have had
multiple entries. See the honorable mentions for another one, in fact. Picking the best finale of Buffy, though, is difficult. In the end, you have to go with Buffy’s sacrificial dive into a glowing chasm to save Dawn’s life. This really should have been the series finale, especially given how poor the final two seasons of the show were. As an ending, though, The Gift offered fans a self-fulfilling prophecy. The truth is, slayers never live long – and we had five seasons with Buffy. Slayers almost always got killed by vampires, but by sacrificing herself for Dawn – Buffy was choosing when and how she was going out. Her speech to Dawn played over her swan dive into death, which was truly a magical sequence. Watching Willow, Giles and Spike react to her broken body at the bottom of the abyss left viewers in tears. But it was Buffy’s final words that gave fans hope: “Be brave, live, for me.”

1. Through the Looking Glass, Lost Season Three: Two Lost season finales really could have made this list. The season five ender, The Incident, could have also made the list but I wanted to limit the top ten so one show couldn’t take more than one spot. Through the Looking Glass was a game-changer for Lost fans. Not only did we have a mysterious figure parachute onto the island, but we also had Charlie swim out to the Looking Glass station with the express purpose of dying. The writers gave us a small reprieve there at the end where there was a chance that Charlie would survive after all. But then they threw a bucket of cold water on us (literally) and let Charlie die – but not before he managed to convey the terrifying message that the boat that had made it to the island was not Penny’s boat and that the castaways were in mortal danger. Again. One of Lost’s strengths has always been the score and that haunting score as Charlie drowned sticks with viewers. When you couple that sad death with the shocking realization that the Jack we’ve been seeing – presumably in flashback – is really a flash-forward after he (and at least some of the other castaways) have escaped from the island. “We have to go back!” That’s great television folks.

Honorable mentions go to:

The Incident, Lost Season Five: While season three’s finale was the saddest, season five’s finale of

Lost had an emotional wallop, too. Between Juliet’s death and Jack’s certainty that, if they just blew everything up, time would reset itself. We all know that didn’t happen, but Sawyer and Juliet’s heartbreaking goodbye as he tried to save her from falling to her death is one of those indelible Lost moments that will stick with you forever.

 The Getaway, Dexter Season Four: Rooting for a serial killer is hard. Still, fans managed to do just that with Dexter. That’s why, at the end of season four, when Dexter returned home to find his infant son playing in the blood of his dead mother, fans knew that things were about to change.

Becoming, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Two: Was there ever a more tragic television moment than Buffy shoving a sword through a suddenly reensouled Angel’s heart? The lovebirds were reunited for thirty seconds before Buffy had to make a choice and save the world. Sure, Angel returned next season (dropping from the ceiling naked), but the couple was never the same.

Death And All His Friends, Grey’s Anatomy Season Six: This show hasn’t been relevant for years, but there was a brief resurgence in the season six finale when a hospital shooter wiped out most of the Mercy West people and rejuvenated the series. It only lasted one episode, though.

The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding, Friends Season Seven: A wedding and a surprise pregnancy? Friends knew how to keep fans wanting more.

Bloody Harlan, Justified Season Two: There’s nothing better than watching Raylan win. This time,
though, Raylan is saved by Art and then has to go and save Loretta (from herself) before watching Mags drop dead of poison. It really was Justified’s finest moment.

How to Stop An Exploding Man, Heroes Season One:  This is  a show that had one good season and then fell into total chaos and crap. Still, that first season is so well done and the finale is so grand and fulfilling, that I often look back on Heroes with a certain fondness that it probably doesn’t deserve. As Peter takes on Sylar, Claire struggles with having to shoot her beloved uncle to save everyone and Nathan arrives in time to save the day – the entire thing is just masterful. “You saved the cheerleader so we could save the world.” The show really should have used the first season arc for its entire run.

What do you think? What are the best season finales of all time?

GENERAL HOSPITAL: The Port Charles conundrum

If you’ve been watching General Hospital as long as I have, it’s fair to say that threats to out and out quit watching the show are often empty.

As angry as I am about certain things on the soap right now – and I am angry – I’m not going to
entirely give up on the show.

That being said, I have already cut down on what I’m watching – and Robin hasn’t even left yet.

I would never stop watching just because Robin is leaving. I’m not going to lie, I am irritated at the way Robin is being written out and I am infuriated that the writers have found a way to prop Jason from the great beyond.

I have made no secret of the fact that I think the best thing Ron Carlivati did when he took over writing GH was to kill off Jason. Many fans had fled Port Charles over mob fatigue – and Jason was a big reason for that.

I am sure that somewhere, down the line, we’re going to get a Jason recast. I don’t think that’s happening any time soon – but if GH lasts for a few more years, it will definitely happen at some point.

What angers me most about Robin’s exit, though, is that it makes her look like a bad mother. I have no problem with Robin walking out on Patrick. I was over Patrick the minute he had to “think about” who he belonged with – even though we had been shown just the opposite on screen. Robin would never voluntarily leave Emma – not even for Saint Jason of the Docks.

Robin’s exit is far from my only problem, though.

I mean, what has happened to Carly? I don’t care how you’ve retconned Franco’s past. He’s still the man that arranged Michael’s rape and kidnapped Josslyn – that’s on top of the fact that he tried to blow up Lulu and he terrorized Jason. Carly would never get within 100 feet of this guy’s bed, and yet she’s sitting there mooning over him anyway.

It’s insulting.

I’m used to Carly being a hypocrite. Today, for example, she said she didn’t like Robin because she
didn’t stay out of other people’s business and then invaded Robin and Patrick’s business two minutes later. Carly never stayed out of anyone’s business – let alone Robin’s – so listening to her lambast Robin was hilarious.

All that being said, Carly would never betray Jason or her son by hooking up with Franco. She just wouldn’t do it.

What else is bugging me? Well, how about the fact that Julian is supposed to be a big, bad mob boss and he’s spending all his time tattling to the cops? Is that supposed to give him legitimacy?

How about how Ava is supposed to be a murderous adult and she’s moony over a teenager?

How about Michael and Kiki are all over the place with no sustaining story?

How about how Liz’s whole story seems to be about stalking Nikolas and looking desperate when it comes to Britt? I mean, I’m sorry, I’m never going to root for Liz and Nikolas because it’s a betrayal to both Emily and Lucky. That’s just how I am on this coupling. How about we give Liz and Patrick a chance for a real, adult romance? I’m totally behind that.

I’m also already hating Ric’s return. I love Rick Hearst, but I can already see he’s going to be sacrificed on the altar of Sonny and I can’t stand it. How about a realistic love triangle with Ric, Alexis and Julian? How about that?
Finally, I’m sorry, but Molly is so immature that believing she’s ready for sex is almost laughable.
I’m not a prude. I know teens have sex and I have no problem with it. Molly acts 12, though, not 15 and she’s nowhere near ready to have sex with TJ (who looks like he’s in his twenties). It’s just uncomfortable. And, if the writers go where I fear they’re going, they’re going to somehow make Ric balk because TJ is black – and that’s just insulting on so many levels it’s not even funny.

GH has a lot going for it – and most of that is wrapped around the vets.

It has a lot of problems, too.

I’m not going to quit watching the show. I would never threaten that. I am DVRing all the episodes during the week, though, and watching most episodes on fast-forward. I can currently get an entire episode crammed into fifteen minutes without missing anything I care about.

And that, my friends, is a sad commentary on the current state of the soap.

What do you think? Are you struggling with GH right now?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Disappointed in Downton? Join the club

To say that the fourth season of Downton Abbey was a disappointment would be a massive understatement.

I found the entire fourth season – which concluded this past Sunday – to be one big letdown.

I understand the problems associated with producing British television. I know that the actors sign three-year contracts (while the American contract is a standard seven years) and that most of these shows do not have increased revenue to offer these actors enough money to entice them to stay when those initial three years end.

Do I think Downtown has been hurt by the recent cast departures? Absolutely.

Matthew, Sybil and O’Brien were integral parts of the Downton cog and – apparently – that cog doesn’t turn the wheel without them.

While those three characters were important to Downton, though, they’re not the main reason why season four was such an abject failure.

What were they?

5. Rose’s rebellion couldn’t have been more boring: With Sybil’s absence, I get why the writers decided to introduce another young woman. Here’s the problem: Rose can’t live up to Sybil’s legacy. Sybil was definitely my favorite sister and, when she died, it took a chunk out of my heart as well as those of the rest of her family. Rose is a poor substitute. While I don’t dislike taking a look at the flapper lifestyle, Rose is so vapid and so worried about making her mother pay that she becomes completely unlikeable. Rose is not loyal, she’s not steadfast and she has no familial pride. So why are we supposed to root for her again?

4. What happened to Violet and Barrow? The Dowager Countess was once the (biting) highlight of  Downton. This year she did . . . what did she do again? Well, she made Edith feel bad about getting knocked up and she got sick for an episode. Yeah, that’s about all she did. That’s a great waste of Maggie Smith’s talents and memorable snark. Do better next season. The same goes for  Thomas Barrow – the guy we all love to hate. This snake in the grass has launched all-out assaults on various servants at Downton throughout the years –but with the departure of O’Brien, Thomas seems to have lost his teeth. He had even less to do this season – besides sit there and say ominous things and glower in the corner – than any previous seasons. Bring back the jerk we love to watch scheme.

3. Edith gets more and more (and more and more) pathetic: I know that some parents play favorites, but the way that Lord and Lady Grantham dote on Mary (and Sybil, before her death) and yet constantly treat Edith with derision and out and out neglect is baffling. Since we met Edith, she’s fallen for a really old guy, got left at the altar, fallen for a burned guy faking his identity, fallen for a married guy that fell off the face of the earth, gotten knocked up, given up her baby and . . . she’s just one pathetic story after the other. Edith showed signs of greatness in season two when she helped out during the war effort – but she immediately plummeted to pre-war pathetic posturing in record time after that. Does Edith have to be everyone’s punching bag?

2. Mary is the most unlikeable character – and yet she’s also propped the most: Michelle
Dockery must be some sort of saint, because the way the Downton writers prop Mary has to be a reflection of how much they love Dockery. I have never watched a character with so little redeeming value that manages to take over every single storyline every season. Even when Matthew was alive, Mary was a complete pain, but her love story with Matthew was her one redeeming quality. Now, after mourning poutily and neglecting her child for a year and a half, Mary is ready to move on and she’s encouraging three different suitors to start chasing her around. Here’s a hint: Trying to convince me that Mary deserves three suitors (while Edith just gets more and more pathetic) is not going to make me like Mary anymore. In fact, it’s going to have the opposite effect. I truly think I just might loathe Mary now.

1. Anna’s rape became all about Bates: The truth is, through the first three seasons of the show, Anna and Bates were the central love story. Sure, Mary and Matthew got all the glory – but Anna and Bates set the rhythm of the house and their sweet love story was what anchored Downton when it threatened to float off into soapy space. Unfortunately, the big story of this season was Anna’s brutal rape at the hands of another servant. After the initial attack, all of Anna’s feelings and problems were subjugated because everyone was terrified what Bates would think. Anna had to suffer and deal with things because Bates would kill her attacker and then Bates would have to pay for his actions. Nothing was about Anna. To add insult to injury, after Bates did find out about the rape the story became more about him and Mary – how Mary felt about Anna’s rape. It was insulting all around. Then, in the final two episodes, it becomes relatively apparent that Bates did murder Anna’s attacker – but everyone’s fine with it because he stole a letter from someone’s pocket. Huh?

What do you think? What were your biggest complaints with season three of Downton Abbey?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is your favorite television show in danger of being cancelled?

It’s that time of year again – where viewers start to find out if their favorite show will be returning next year or not.

In recent years, I haven’t worried about this list too much – but with three of my shows on the endangered list, I’m suddenly very interested.

Keep in mind, this is essentially the list for the big five networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW) and does not include cable television (which will be a whole other list).

So, where does your favorite show land:


American Dad (moving to TBS)
Arrow (CW)
The Blacklist (NBC)
Bob's Burgers (Fox)
Bones (Fox)
Family Guy (Fox)
Glee (Fox)
Masterchef Junior (Fox)
The Originals (CW)
The Simpsons (Fox)
Reign (CW)
Sleepy Hollow (Fox)
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
Supernatural (CW)
The Vampire Diaries (CW)

Probably Will Be Renewed

2 Broke Girls (CBS)
The Amazing Race  (CBS)
American Idol (Fox)
America's Next Top Model (CW)
The Bachelor (ABC)
The Bachelorette (ABC)
The Biggest Loser (NBC)
Blue Bloods (CBS)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
Castle (ABC)
Chicago Fire (NBC)
Chicago PD (NBC)
Community (NBC)
The Crazy Ones (CBS)
Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
Criminal Minds (CBS)
The Goldbergs (ABC)
Elementary (CBS)
The Following (Fox)
The Good Wife (CBS)
Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Grimm (NBC)
Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)
Kitchen Nightmares (Fox)
Last Man Standing (ABC)
Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
The Middle (ABC)
Mike & Molly (CBS)
The Millers (CBS)
The Mindy Project (Fox)
Modern Family (ABC)
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
New Girl (Fox)
Once Upon a Time (ABC)
Parks and Recreation (NBC)
Parenthood (NBC)
Person of Interest (CBS)
Revenge (ABC)
Scandal (ABC)
Shark Tank (ABC)
Suburgatory (ABC)
Survivor (CBS)
Undercover Boss (CBS)
The Voice (NBC)
In Danger of Being Cancelled
Almost Human
Beauty and the Beast (CW)
Betrayal (ABC)
The Carrie Diaries (CW)
Dads (Fox)
Dracula (NBC)
Enlisted (Fox)
Hart of Dixie (CW)
Hostages (CBS)
Intelligence (CBS)
The Mentalist (CBS)
Mom (CBS)
Nashville (ABC)
The Neighbors
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC)
Raising Hope (Fox)
Rake (Fox)
Revolution (NBC)
Super Fun Night  (ABC)
The Tomorrow People (
Trophy Wife (ABC)
Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Us & Them (Fox)

Too Soon to Tell

The 100 (CW)
About a Boy (NBC)
American Dream Builders (NBC)
Believe (NBC)
Crisis (NBC)
Friends with Better Lives (CBS)
Gang Related (Fox)
Growing Up Fisher (NBC)
Hannibal (NBC)
Mind Games (ABC)
Mixology (ABC)
Night Shift  (NBC)
Reckless (CBS)
Resurrection (ABC)
Star-Crossed (CW)
Surviving Jack (Fox)
Undateable (NBC)


The Assets (ABC)
Back in the Game (ABC)
How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
Ironside (NBC)
Killer Women (ABC)
Lucky 7 (ABC)
The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC)
Nikita (CW)
Sean Saves the World (NBC)
We Are Men (CBS)
Welcome to the Family (NBC)
The X Factor (Fox)