Thursday, May 25, 2006

Season finale thoughts

As May sweeps and the current television season ends, here are some unsolicited and highly opinionated thoughts on some finales:

24 – One of the better seasons. Great villains. Chloe didn’t die. (Neither did Kim but there’s always next year) Jack Bauer firmly established himself as this generation’s James Bond. But considering how many people perished along the way this season, if a nuclear warhead had hit San Francisco the death toll would still be less.

WILL & GRACE – the NBC promo department really cranked up the maudlin meter. Oh, the sadness. Like saying goodbye to a cherished member of the family. Come on! It’s WILL & GRACE. Every year we see the same promos for that year’s exiting cash cow. And the same schmaltzy shots of the cast crying and hugging. But it’s not MASH and it’s not CHEERS and it’s not SEINFELD. The country didn’t stop because the WILL & GRACE finale was on. And they won’t when ACCORDING TO JIM goes off either.

AMERICAN IDOL – Poor Kathryn. Not that she lost to America’s new puppy, that was a given. But her hometown reception the week before was pathetic. Sure Taylor and Elliott come from small towns where to draw a huge crowd one need only wave a Confederate flag while Kathryn hails from Southern California where you can’t swing a dead cat and not hit a cast member of ER, but still, she deserved better than fifty kids showing up for what was probably a mandatory assembly in the gym. They gave a fucking star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to Winnie the Pooh. Kathryn received the turnout for a supermarket opening.

PRISON BREAK – finally! They broke! Hopefully, Michael will drop his pants and we see he has a tattoo of the New York City subway map on his legs. (If any network would like to do the reality show version of this show just put cameras in Richard Hatch and Michelle Rodriguez’s cells).

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES – Disappointing second season. But help may be on the way. A noted FRASIER writer is joining the writing staff. Expect the show to be wittier, pithier, and with far more dinner parties.

SURVIVOR – yawn.

THE APPRENTICE -- I always Tivo and fast forward through commercials. And since this show is now just an hour long excuse for product placement I find myself fast forwarding through the whole show. So yawn.

WEST WING – If everyone talked just a little slower they could still get two more years out of the same number of scripts. I loved the idea of building a show around a smart compassionate U.S. president. Aaron Sorkin created a wonderful fairy tale.

ALIAS – Everyone on that show has gone on to better things. Jennifer Garner now has to play her most dangerous alias ever – Ben Affleck’s wife.

THE 70’s SHOW – Deserved more fanfare than it received. Fox’s best live action sitcom ever. Destined to be a mainstay paired with HAPPY DAYS on TV LAND.

LOST – Best show on network TV. A master class in storytelling. But now that the season is over what will ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY do if it can’t devote at least one issue a month to ridiculous predictions and dissection of the clues? And their Oscar speculation issue doesn’t hit the stands till mid June.

CSI – They’ll never top last year’s finale written and directed by Quentin Tarentino. Next year maybe get Spielberg to do it. He can have Grissom and the gang to prove there was a holocaust.

TODAY SHOW – Katie leaving IS a big deal. It IS like saying goodbye to a member of the family. End of an era and all that. I’m sure her farewell show will end with a touching bittersweet montage – Katie clowning, Katie on assignment in a war zone, Katie interviewing Cruise. Wouldn’t it be great if it ended with her colonoscopy?

The summer is here. Oh God. That means BIG BROTHER.


will teullive said...

After each 'Housewives' espisode I feel bad about the hour I've just wasted. I also feel the loss of a few more brains cells...and I don't have too many more to spare!

"Kathryn hails from Southern California where you can’t swing a dead cat and not hit a cast member of ER, but still, she deserved better than fifty kids showing up for what was probably a mandatory assembly in the gym."

Funny, funny stuff!!

Zach said...

We also have a new season of Entourage and Louis C.K.'s new show, Lucky Louie, which I am hugely excited for.

You are right on about 24. I think that the James Bond thing extends even further. Television has now come to a point where action movies really don't have much to offer besides bigger name stars. As is evidenced by the fact that every episode of 24 was more engaging than Mission Impossible III.

Mary Stella said...

Thank God Sorkin's doing Studio 60. Please let it have a longer life than Sports Night. I loved that show.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Sorry, I can't agree with you on That 70's Show. Good riddance. Never a funny moment on that show.

As for the According to Jim finale - I'm sorry again to dissapoint you. That show is never going off the air. Further proof that there is no God, or if there was, He's definintely not rooting for the U.S. of A.

Gimme Al Jazeera over Jim Belushi any day.

VP19 said...

Hmmm. Sorry, I can't agree with you on That 70's Show. Good riddance. Never a funny moment on that show.

There were funny moments, and lots of them, but fewer and fewer over the past several years. The show became a bit too long in the tooth, for which you can blame Fox in part for trying to milk every bit out of it.

I began following the series in late 1998, after becoming editor of a weekly paper in New Jersey where Laura Prepon, then a newcomer, hailed. (I've interviewed her a few times and know her family -- nice people. Laura has a good comedic sense about her, and I hope she can find a good sitcom vehicle for her. Heck, in these dire days it'd be nice to find a good sitcom vehicle for anybody.) Anyway, it was a charming sitcom -- "Happy Days" for a new generation -- and actors like Prepon, Topher Grace, Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp provided a talented cast. But the increased popularity of Kelso and Fez threw the show a bit off focus towards cheap jokes. That it lasted a few years too long didn't help either; as Melissa Joan Hart would no doubt tell you, it's tough to play a teenager when you're closer to 30 than 20.

shecanfilmit said...

No one ever talks about Two and a Half Men! I know it's on opposite 24, but still. It's so damn funny. I spit food when I'm watching it, I laugh out loud on the treadmill and have people at the health club looking at me, etc. Doesn't anyone else watch this gem?

Emily Blake said...

I've noticed that every show is awesomer if you imagine how Jack Bauer would handle the situation. How would Jack deal with Steve Carrel from The Office, for instance? What would Jack do if he suspected one of House's patients of telling the truth? It would be awesome, that's all I know.

I also like to imagine him working with Vic Mackie.

DrBear said...

I grew up in Wisconsin in the 70s. Let's just say the kids on That 70s Show wouldn't have lasted five minutes in the real thing.

I've also boycotted that show ever since Fox plugged it by putting a couple of cast members inside Lambeau Field during a game. Wonder whose tickets they took.

af said...

The CSI comment made me laugh out loud.

The Master said...

"Will & Grace" indeed wasn't SEINFELD or CHEERS, all to the good. I loved Cheers. As a gay man, it represented all the time I've ever spent in a straight bar. SEINFELD bored me then, bores me now, ever shall bore me. But I loved "Will & Grace", the only show on TV about people like the ones I know. I went to some trouble to go to a couple tapings, as far back as season one. Most everyone I know did stop for the W&G finale, the final gasp of NBC's Thursday night Must See TV. I notice that you say nothing about the finale itself, which was pretty damn good (I will always be amused thinking of Leslie Jordan flying away off his breezy balcony.), just about the pormos, which were certainly too much and over the top.
"That 70s Show" is over? News to me. Drat! I've been meaning for years to watch an episode and see if it was as dreary as it's promos. Too late now. Maybe next life.
Again, on West wing, you didn't actually say anything about the final episode itself, which was devoid of drama or suspense, things the series as a whole had in spades. Will he sign the pardon or won't he? Oooo, the tension. Like any one thought for a moment he wouldn't. Lots of speechifying and people looking at empty sets, wet-eyed. We kept being cued for big emotions I wasn't feeling. A bore.
As for no one showing up for McPheeble's support remote, maybe no one liked her screechy, ghastly singing. Should they have rounded up involuntary McPheeble conscripts? If she can't attract any fans, she can't. Gee, maybe that's why she lost. I live in the SF Valley, her "Home Town". In fact, my best friend is a friend of her mother. Must I be her fan because of geographic proximity? Sorry. Maybe when her singing stops making my head throb.
Not that I was any fan of Taylor's, but of the two, he was BY FAR the better singer. But it should-a been Chris. That man is hot.
I agree that "Desperate Housewives" had a poor season, but the finale was pertty good. And yes, the LOST finale rocked. And there's nothing to keep EW from speculating on the next season of LOST all summer long, in big, double issues.

VP19 said...

Why do people always capitalize "Lost"? It's not an acronym. Can't people think for themselves?

Tom Dougherty said...

vp19- LOST spelled in caps is just the way the title is spelled. Like CBS' NUMB3RS- it's just...the way it is.There's a 3 in there for some reason, and playing along is just more fun than fighting it. I can't explain.

That 70s Show better than Arrested Development? Posh.

Eric said...

At the beginning of the season I sensed that Desperate Housewives had devolved into utter contempt for its main characters, and I couldn't keep watching it. Reading the TWOP recaplets I kept having my decision justified.

John said...

Will & grace wasn't funny from the moment it launched and then proceeded down a path to irrelevance faster than any show in history. They've been stunt casting that show for 3 years now trying to convince the audience of its relevance.

That 70's show was very funny when it launched and remained so for 2 solid seasons.