Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to End a TV Series

Today, I'm going to discuss how to end a TV series the right way. But one more last dig at Lost before I, um, let go. DabramahBull of YouTube had it right when he said you don't need the Island if the show was about Jack's life and move into Sideways World. Smoke monsters, curing paralysis and surviving a nuclear blast cannot happen in the real world unless there's something magical happening. By saying you can bring your interpretation into the drama is lazy writing. Did the creators really want us to do that? When did they hint at this? You watched the show because of the mystery the writers were throwing at you. At some point the audience must be told that the show is about anything you want. For example, if you play Grand Theft Auto and are dating a girl in the game, that's interactive and where it goes is left up to your imagination. There are no parameters set up by a writer. Six years of watching Lost, and what I got was a contrived and corny ending. SCREAM! (Add your favorite scream here.)

So, what's the best way to end a TV series? Well, that depends on the series. Some closure is needed if questions remain. And even if none remain, it's good to tell the audience that it's over. I don't appreciate big gigantic changes. That's not because of the possibility of reviving the show in another format. But if you make big changes, then rest of the series becomes irrelevant. I appreciate St. Elsewhere's avant garde ending but now the show is useless since it was all in a child's snow globe. You can also make the argument for film sequels. Alien 3's premise killed the great Aliens which I believe the film series should end on. Finally, keep within the themes of the series for the final show.

Here are two great series finales. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Cheers. In ST:TNG, the final episode is symmetrical to the pilot. Q, a superbeing alien, tests Captain Picard in the past, present and the future. Picard must repair a rip in space time continuum or else man will cease to exist. Seven years before, Q in the pilot also tested Picard because he was human and didn't trust humans to explore space. Of course, Picard succeeds in fixing the rip in the space time coninuum because I'm here blogging! After succeeding Q and Picard have a thought provoking discussion. The final scenes are of Picard playing poker with the crew. Cut to the Enterprise heading towards a dazzling nebula. Check it out.

Cheers ended with Sam in the bar with the one thing he loves. It's not the bar. It's the community formed within the bar. Funny. Profound. Great last line for the series. "Sorry, we're closed", he says to a customer. Someone posted it on YouTube.

If you want great television go buy Star Trek (all series) pre-Abrams or Cheers.

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