Season Wrap-Up

Given how difficult it can be coordinating schedules, we only just finished the finales for the series we have watched as a family. All except Alias that is. We have an entire season to enjoy over the summer so no comments there.

I’ll presume you’ve seen these by now so will discuss without concern over spoilers.


West Wing
It was no Sorkin. The series ended nobly and they went out of their way during the final handful of episodes to make sure all the recurring characters got a moment of screen time. Still, some obvious bits of business were ignored. Given how Bartlet was grooming Sam for an eventual presidential run, a moment between them should have been found (and it also means Sam going back into litigation made no sense). That sense of awe the White House and trappings of executive power was nicely highlight for the John Wells-era characters such as Mrs. Santos and Ronna the new secretary. But, we also ended with Josh and Santos in the Oval Office doing work and it felt time to go.

Gilmore Girls
Amy Sherman-Palladino probably suspected the WB wasn’t going to renew her contract and whipped things into a fine froth in the finale. The Rory-Logan relationship has matured nicely and she’s been a lot more steadfast than before, showing a nice development. She’s is definitely still her mother’s daughter while making choices that are uniquely her own. The series still veers into the absurd more often than it should as seen by Lane’s wedding. Also, Luke feels incredibly out of character as he is willing to put April ahead of Lorelei so finding her in Christopher’s bed also felt wrong. I hope the new show runners make sense out of all this and bring things to a more satisfying conclusion in what is likely to be the final season.

Smallville
The producers must surely miss the fine writing of Jeph Loeb and Mark Verheiden because the soap opera this season was overwrought. Even killing Jonathan Kent could have been handled better. The entire Brainiac/Prof. Fine story arc made no sense whatsoever as it smacked of being made up as they went along. As a result, whatever Fine infected Lex with in the penultimate episode had zero payoff in the finale. The final act had so much that didn’t work – Clark standing there and letting the Phantom Zone device grab him was dumb. And the East Coast blackout of a few years back shows that people don’t randomly panic when the power vanishes. The rioting therefore felt incredibly false and leaving Chloe to presumed rape did the character (and actress) a disservice. Also, the Lionel/Martha budding romance has to be stopped.

Veronica Mars
The final act crammed in so much explication that it was clear the writing staff recognized they overloaded the season with threads that all needed to be resolved. As a result, characters flitted in and out of focus during the final few episodes and then everything was whipped up in a taut and exhausting final hour. Some characters were given proper sendoffs and it sure feels as if they’re writing their people of color out of the series as Wallace is off to college and Jackie is suddenly in Brooklyn. It was also unfair to end the series on a cliffhanger just in case the newly formed CW did not renew the show. Now that they have a 13-episode commitment we can only hope the secret of the briefcase gets dealt with in a tidy fashion. This series still features the best Father/Daughter relationship on any network.

Lost
The two-hours were filled with enough red herrings, explanations, clues and mysteries to keep the fans speculating all summer. As a dramatic cap to the second season, the episode was solid. We got to see where everyone is, most of them placed in some form of jeopardy. But not all, as we saw a tender moment with Claire and Charlie. Every known inhabitant of the island was present and accounted for except Rousseau which begs certain questions. Some have complained this wasn’t as compelling a cliffhanger as last year’s but I ascribe that to a year’s additional familiarity with the characters and mythos. The Others, for example, are a more known quantity now so their threat level is altered. Good news to hear that Henry Gale has been upgraded to regular because he’s just plain creepy.

Desperate Housewives
This is one of those guilty pleasure shows that is more entertaining than not. The finale, though, was not at all what it should have been. Each of the four housewives had their own storylines and flashbacks and at no point did they intersect and act as neighbors, let alone friends. The whole Betty Applewhite story was a misfire from the moment the season opened and ended with a whimper, totally wasting the wonderful Alfre Woodard. People endured life-changing circumstances and suddenly found themselves acting out of character, most notably Zach when he suddenly gained Noah’s estate. Creatively, the show is a mess and the third season really needs to mirror the first, toned down and more intertwined.

Grey’s Anatomy
This series has deserved all its praise. Yes, it’s another medical show and it’s another soap opera. Where this one excels, though, is in how tightly structured the stories are so decisions have consequences and character parallels are wonderfully handled. So many characters find themselves in situations mirroring other themes from the series that it’s got a gravitas you don’t expect. Sure, there’s that surface stuff like McDreamy vs. McVet but listening to each character’s monologue as they talk to their chief shows how well-rounded (and well-portrayed) they have become in a short period of time. Even the characters you aren’t supposed to like (Alex and Mrs. Dr. McDreamy) have their sympathetic qualities so we have no cardboard villains.

Boston Legal
This was a largely disappointing two-hour finale as David E. Kelly’s excesses got the best of him and apparently no one knew to stop him. Plot threads from previous weeks, such as Paul telling Brad not to see his daughter (the cool Jayne Brooke) was ignored when he saw her anyway without consequence. Denny Crane and his west coast doppelganger Robert Wagner were cartoonish and annoying, distracting from guest star’s Jeri Ryan’s more interesting storyline. Similarly, the rivalry between Parker Posey and Julie Bowen was a live-action cartoon, complete with Looney Tunes score. It did a disservice to Julie’s character and it now seems they wrote her out, giving her the happy-ending of marrying a dead man, cancer-ridden Michael J. Fox. When Kelly speaks out on the issues of the day, usually through James Spader and occasionally with Candice Bergen, the show sings and is compelling. This two-hour block was a real waste and a disappointment. We can only hope that the new season will get things back on track or it’ll go the way of Ally McBeal and Picket Fences, brilliant shows brought down by Kelly’s penchant for absurd character tics in lieu of characterization, at the expense of story.

2 comments

  • Tom Galloway

    Re: Veronica Mars. Both she and Wallace will be at Hearst U. next season (as will Mac, who’s supposed to upgraded to regular), so they’re not writing him out. Jackie’s done though. Also, before the 13 ep commitment was announced, they said they’d planned a 3 mystery structure for next season, say 6 eps for one mystery, 8 eps for the next, the last 8 for the final one. So not quite as much to clear up in the final show.

  • The [i]Boston Legal[/i] finale.

    The first hour felt completely aimless. The story of Brad’s niece Hannah had some nice moments, serious moments, but paired against the Looney Toons competition between Marlene and Denise Hannah’s story felt way out of place. Add to that the idiotic case with the pornography professor, and what would have been a fine story on any other legal drama only served to show how schizophrenic the first hour was.

    And let’s be frank. The second hour wasn’t really any better. I was expecting some plot twist in the Courtney Reese case that would have blown it wide open, and it wasn’t there. I was surprised that Shirley threatened blackmail against a judge. I was amused (and frankly a little appalled) at the petty depths both Denise and Marlene could dredge. There were so many places I thought the episodes could have gone, and they didn’t. Jeri Ryan was pretty well useless in the episode, and frankly I got a little tired of the camera leering at her chest.

    Other issues. Why did we [i]have[/i] to go to Los Angeles for this story? Really, couldn’t it have been done just as well in Boston? And Robert Wagner! Damn, the man was unrecognizable except for the voice.

    That said. Parker Posey was fabulous, and she played well against James Spader’s seduction speech. Michael J. Fox is always a treat, even if it was just for a minute and a half. And watching Julie Bowen portray Denise’s descent and self-destruction was both amusing and sad.

    For a season finale this was pretty weak.