Monday, June 11, 2007

series finales

So, I can't really write about it as I don't have cable at the moment, but I know that everyone is talking about The Sopranos series finale, and from what I gather, everything was left up in the air. On KROQ's Kevin and Bean show this morning, a lot of people were calling in either glad or concerned that the fate of Tony was not revealed to us. I used to watch The Sopranos pretty regularly for a couple of years somewhere in the middle of its run, and someday I'd like to rent all the seasons and just follow all of the characters' story lines, but as of now, I don't have a lot to say. I am very curious, though, what everyone else thought about the series finale, so please comment!

Also, I was thinking about series finale styles in general. What were your favorite series finales? Your least favorite? Is it better to cauterize every hanging question there was, or allow each viewer to decide what sort of ending will make them the happiest? Certainly I think the success of a series finale is tied to the timing of it. If the show's creators let the show go on too long, the finale may be a dud because no one cares about the outcome anyway. If the show got cancelled before its time should have been up, fans may find the ending to be rushed.

Arrested Development was a show that was certainly canned before its fans wanted it to be. I was there with the Bluths from the beginning, and I could have stayed with them until George Michael (and Maeby?) had kids of their own. The third season was a mixed bag for me, because though I loved it, the creators and the viewers were so painfully aware of the show's fate. Self-referential in-jokes are at once genius and saddening. In the end, we find out all we wanted to know about George Bluth, Sr., George Michael and Maeby, and the Bluth Company itself. Despite the cruel cruel trick of teasing us into thinking a movie was in the works, everything was wrapped up, which I appreciated. I think when audiences are invested in a show, and they don't have a chance to follow them as long as they'd like, the least the show's creators can do is answer the outstanding questions.

Six Feet Under was my favorite series finale by far, though. Like a lot of HBO shows, this one was difficult for me to follow because with going off to school and everything, I couldn't always keep up with the random placement of seasons. But I made sure to tune in for the series finale, which still haunts me when I think about it. Every episode of the show had begun with a character's death, a fade-to-black, and a title card displaying their name and years of life. The finale began with a birth, which was a beautiful tack to take anyway, but it was the final sequence of the show that threw me for a loop. Audiences always regret missing out on what happens to the characters of a show they love after the final credits. Six Feet Under showed us how each of the main characters would die years into the future. These scenes were intercut with a shot of Claire driving across the country to start life fresh. For a show about death, I thought it was very smart that we got absolute closure. We got to see where life would take each of our characters. Years later I was in a sort of a funk, driving around the L.A. freeways and listening to Indie 103.1 when Sia's "Breathe Me" came on the radio. I had to pull over to the side of the road because the song was so beautiful. I didn't remember at the time, but that was the song playing during the final sequence of Six Feet Under, and it was magical. Watch the clip below...

Clearly these two finales stuck with me, and while I'm sure there are others that I have enjoyed or appreciated, I am curious what it is you look for in a series finale, and what your favorite have been!

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