Monday, May 15, 2006

Season finales: Smallville, West Wing, Survivor, etc.

'Tis the season for season finales.

This past week (and yesterday in particular) saw a plethora of season finales appear on the boob tube. It was quite odd, really, to read the tv guide and see just how many shows were having their big send-offs last night.

The big one for me was the series finale of The West Wing. It has been the best show on television for some eight years now, though the quality ebbed a little after Aaron Sorkin's departure. Personally, I tuned out a little in the past couple of years because for some bizarre reason the picture quality of NBC on my tv was practically unbearable and, for some bizarre reason, CTV wasn't airing it anymore.

It was a sad but high-quality finale that hit all the right notes. It was somewhat reminiscent of the M*A*S*H finale - sentimental but classy. But where the show was particularly effective was in the fact that the sentimentality was all from the characters' points of view - while they were somewhat saddened, the White House marched on, sweeping out the old administration and ushering in the new, like clockwork. It was powerful because while it may have seemed painful to these characters that we had grown to love, it was so true. It was the cap to their time as public servants; you don't do it for the glory - you expect nothing in return.

I thought it was beautiful. And although I hadn't been the most faithful of viewers recently, I'd have to say I'm really going to miss that show.

Who will pick up the torch? Which show is the big dog now? ER has long fallen to the wayside and will not be missed nearly as much. When CSI has run its course, will the audience miss the show and its characters, or will it be easily replaced by the next sit-drama (like Law & Order - not so much about the characters as it is about the case)?

I'll miss Smallville, too, though not for the same reasons. In many ways, it is the polar opposite of The West Wing. It didn't have to earn its audience - the popularity was built in. The writing has always been atrocious and the acting not much better. I thought this year was supposed to be the last, but word on the street is that the show is being picked up by a new network. The show has definitely crossed some major lines, though and has reached a point of no return. The storylines (and writing as a result) evolved exponentially in recent episodes. I believed it was because the show was ending. Anyone who saw yesterday's finale, though, knows this is not the case. Still, I'd rather see the show go out in a blaze of glory rather than sputter as it had. Let's hope next season is it. Personally, I was kinda hoping for a two-hour Smallville MOW send-off.

Survivor wrapped up again. And yet again, it would seem the person who won was the undeserving one (it happens almost every year without fail). Terry was clearly the best player in the game, but he didn't make the final two - Danielle made the right decision there. As it turns out though, Danielle wouldn't have won either way. I have the finale on tape (I didn't watch it yesterday) so maybe I'll go back and see how Aras pulled it off. I hadn't been watching the show enough to know if Aras' victory over Danielle was a foregone conclusion, but it seems to me that whoever beats the king should be the king (or queen).

So what's there to watch now? Well, there's always the Stanley Cup playoffs - those never seem to end. Will Edmonton be in the finale? Let's hope so. I can't see myself or too many others being drawn to a finale that involves Carolina, Anaheim, San Jose and/or Buffalo...

...of course, maybe I should just stop watching so much bloody tv, eh?

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