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Best series finale?

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Best series finale?

Old 08-20-22, 11:02 AM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by Bronkster View Post
St. Elsewhere.
I loved that show and was one of the few who watched it religiously when it aired (I had to seek out friends off-campus to watch it in college because nobody wanted to watch it in my dorm). I hated the finale when it aired and hate it still to this day. They had gotten rid of two of the most important characters the episode before. Then that “twist” at the end of the finale which was supposed to be so mind-blowing instead just felt showy. It didn’t make a lick of sense. Could an autistic kid imagine an entire world inside his head? Sure. Could he know modern medicine techniques and the correct dosing for intravenous epinephrine? No he couldn’t. It felt so dishonest and illogical that I didn’t even know what to do with the information, couldn’t even process it. This wasn’t like Newhart finale (which aired very close to this one, time-wise) where you could laugh it off as a clever joke. These were characters I had really come to worry and care about over six years. To be told in the finale that it never meant anything, and that all I should really think about is what’s going on inside of the heads of severely autistic kids (which somehow has to be totally different from what’s going on inside the head of mildly autistic kids, BTW). It left me with as bad a taste in my mouth as HIMYM or Game of Thrones.
Old 08-20-22, 02:15 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

I never took the final twist on St Elsewhere to mean that I had to reevaluate the entire series, it was just a heady reminder of what I had really been watching. Whether everything that happened was just in the imagination of an autistic boy, or was just a bunch of actors pretending to be doctors on sound stages in Hollywood, none of it was real. To me, it is very much a joke just like the joke that ended Newhart, except the St Elsewhere joke is more of a thinker than a laugher.
Old 08-20-22, 03:57 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

I just Googled this article. It was done at the EW reunion shoot, with the cast, several of whom are no longer with us. It seems like a lot of the cast hated the ending as well. Yeah it's kinda cute and definitely different, but it's also a cheat and somehow invalidates everything.

'St. Elsewhere': About that snow-globe ending



By Dan SniersonUpdated October 12, 2012 at 04:00 PM EDTThere are oodles of ways to end a TV series. Marriage! Death! Birth! Flashforward! It was all a dream! Ambiguous cut to black! In 1988, though, St. Elsewhere truly shook things up and gave us one of the most talked-about series finales in history with “the snow globe.” After watching six Emmy-nominated seasons of drama — medical and emotional, dark and light, envelope-pushing and heartstring-pulling — at the run-down St. Eligius, we were led to believe in the finale’s last scene that the entire show was actually a product of the imagination of (construction worker?) Donald Westphall’s autistic son, who was gazing into a snow globe containing a miniature version of the hospital.

EW gathered a dozen members of the cast for a photo shoot and asked them to reflect on the years they spent making this provocative, eccentric, beloved show, which you can check out in our third-annual Reunions Issue. Here on EW.com, read what each of them had to say about the daring and polarizing ending that helped define the WTF? sign-off. When you’re finished, watch the cast reunion on Good Morning America and voice your own opinion on the finale in our poll.

CHAD ALLEN (Tommy Westphall): I remember the script arrived, I read it, got to the end, and I was stumped. I thought I knew what it meant, but it was so weird, especially for my younger mind, so I went running down the hallway and grabbed my mom and I was like, “You have to read this. Tell me if you think it means what I think it means!” My mom read it, and she looked at me sort of puzzled too and said, “I think it means it’s all in your head?” I said, “That’s what I thought it think it means!” So I knew that it was really cool, and I loved that. From the mind of a young person whose fantasies were coming to life before him, it was neat. I remember reading about it in the paper that there was controversy over it. As far as I could tell, there was always controversy around St. Elsewhere. It was a show that never did amazing in the ratings, but it held on because it was always pressing the boundaries of what was okay on TV, bringing up issues that weren’t even being discussed…. At one point I was the answer for a Trivial Pursuit question. That’s really cool for a teenager.

WILLIAM DANIELS (Dr. Mark Craig): I was shocked, actually. I had no ideas of their plans to do that. They needed a way to end the show… It was a provocative ending. A surprise to everybody. Some people liked its provocativeness. Other people didn’t care for it at all. I think a lot of the cast didn’t care for it at all. But they did want to end the show, and not have little St. Elsewheres coming after it.

BONNIE BARTLETT (Ellen Craig): [The writers] wanted to do an ending to the show in a way so that it could never be brought back again. They really wanted to kill the show. And they figured out a way: Okay, we won’t have any reunions, nothing like that. And I was very upset. I thought it was terrible. A terrible ending!

DAVID MORSE (Dr. Jack “Boomer” Morrison): I felt two things. I felt one thing when I read it and one thing when I saw it. When I read it, I thought it was amazing: “Only these people could come up with this idea…” And I thought it was very touching. And then I saw it and I thought, “It’s too much. It’s just too big a leap. We can’t take that jump from seeing these people, Norman, Ed [Flanders] and Bill [Daniels], and this young boy for six years, and suddenly we’re supposed to believe that they’re these other people. It’s just asking too much from all of us.” But I loved that they took the leap, and that was in the spirit of the show.

ERIC LANEUVILLE (Luther Hawkins): I look back on it now and say “Well, it kinda worked.” When I first saw it, I had some real reservations about it. When we read it, we all had reservations about it. But [executive producers] Tom Fontana and John Masius and Bruce Paltrow didn’t want just a normal ending. And listen, we set such a bar, it’s hard to top it to make that ending satisfy a lot of people. If the show were not great, if we had not had as many nominations, we probably wouldn’t even be talking about it. But because we set a bar, it was just hard to really top that… I wish I could say that I loved it. I didn’t dislike it. I thought it was an interesting choice to make… I respect [the ambition]. And because I can’t tell you I have a better idea of how it could’ve ended, I can live with that one.

CHRISTINA PICKLES (Helen Rosenthal): I have no idea what it means. But I thought it was wonderful. You can make up your own line what it means. It could’ve been 900 things, which is very clever because you were allowed to make up your minds so you could stay with your own fantasy so everybody could have an opinion. Then it could create conversation, so I thought it was kind of brilliant.



ED BEGLEY JR. (Dr. Victor Ehrlich): It was quite fitting for what they had done the previous six years. They always tried to be out there, beyond the limits of what was being done before. They tried to really think outside the box — the box in this case being that little television box of the ’80s — and they did something so different. It was bold and shocking and upset some people. I was not upset. I went, “Wow. That is quite a choice.” They did very unusual, bold things and did it regularly. You never knew what was going to happen next. It was highly unpredictable, just like every episode.

HOWIE MANDEL (Dr. Wayne Fiscus): I thought it was realllllllly interesting. We all knew that whenever you do the last episode of any series, the last chapter of any story like that, you’re never going to come up with an ending that will satisfy everybody. I knew there would be an uproar. I was pretty happy with it. I thought it was ahead of its time, pretty ingenious and creative and not like anything else. But I wasn’t surprised that there were many people who didn’t find it satisfying. You can’t please most people most of the time. You can barely please half the people most of the time.

MARK HARMON (Dr. Robert Caldwell): I didn’t see it live. I sure heard about it. It made me laugh actually because it just is so like those guys. It made me smile when I heard about what they did because it was so them. They made a choice and the choice is interesting.

CYNTHIA SIKES (Dr. Annie Cavanero): Part of me likes that whole thing because it’s sort of an Orson Welles-ian “Rosebud” [ending]. I hear people, like “Oh, what happened there?” or “Oh, I didn’t understand that” or “Oh, I love that!” You got all kinds of comments on it. I thought it was interesting.

NORMAN LLOYD: (Dr. Daniel Auschlander): They’d been talking about Citizen Kane. I tell you, the last episode, I never bought it. I said at the time we were shooting, “This is a cheat.” For me, it was a cheat. But for others, it was a stroke of inspiration. So you pick your horse and place your bet. I really had very little to say about that episode because I thought it was a letdown. We went through this experience and I wanted it to be maintained as a real one, not a dream…. I felt it wasn’t serious. The great thing about the show that even in its comedy, it was serious. Even if you go to Alice in Wonderland, and he has the wonderful poem “Life is But a Dream” in it, still it was serious. This ending was not serious to me.

STEPHEN FURST (Dr. Elliot Axelrod): I thought it was kind of cool, actually. … My character died in the second-to-last episode, but I was in the last episode in a scene in which Howie’s character pays a visit to Dr. Axelrod’s corpse in the morgue. I was only supposed to be in 18 of the 22 episodes, so I got an extra episode’s pay out of it. Howie goes to the morgue, slides me out, says something to me and pushes me back in. And Howie got so mad, because I got paid for a full episode, and all I had to do was lie on a slab for five seconds.
Old 08-20-22, 04:04 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

Fringe

As much as I hate everything else JJ Abrams has done Fringe is my favorite show of all time. The ending still chokes me up every time I watch the series, which is often.
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Old 08-20-22, 06:29 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

The Good Place absolutely nailed the ending. The Expanse was as good as we were going to get without adapting the last 3 books.
Old 08-20-22, 06:47 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

So weird, I remember liking the Good Place finale, but now I can’t remember a single thing about it.
Edit : Oh yeah, now I remember. It stretched out over a long, long time. It was very, very good.
Old 08-20-22, 08:07 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by stvn1974 View Post
Fringe

As much as I hate everything else JJ Abrams has done Fringe is my favorite show of all time. The ending still chokes me up every time I watch the series, which is often.
I agree. The finale of Chuck also does that for me.
Old 08-20-22, 09:31 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

I never watched St. Elsewhere, but I think the thing that fascinates me most about the legendary finale is that the late comic book writer Dwayne McDuffie came up with the Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis that posits hundreds of other television series also take place in the kid's head, that reaches far enough to include everything from Cheers to Star Trek.
Old 08-20-22, 10:23 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

^ Well Cheers is a given.
Old 08-21-22, 12:17 AM
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Re: Best series finale?

I'll give some love for the Frasier finale.
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Old 08-21-22, 08:29 AM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by TheMovieman View Post
I'll give some love for the Frasier finale.
Excellent finale. I'd follow Laura Linney anywhere.
Old 08-21-22, 04:17 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by Maxflier View Post
Battlestar Galactica for me.
Me too. Both the "soft" finale at the mid season break in S4, which could have been it if the threatened writers strike had happened, and the actual ending were great.

The problem with the series is the very concept paints writers into a corner right off the bat. There are only four possible solutions: they arrive on Earth at some point in its history, they find another planet and stay there, they live in space forever, or they all die. BSG took the first option, bailed on it, took the second option and turned it into the first option. I never thought the religious overtones hurt the show, in fact the added level of mysticism contrasted nicely with the gritty, real life feel of things. All the main characters received closure and we learned what became of them in the long run.

True, the Cylons really never had a plan (thank you for nothing, opening credits) and some people feel the writers room didn't have one either, but it certainly worked better than either of its predecessors.
Old 08-21-22, 04:20 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by Count Dooku View Post
I never took the final twist on St Elsewhere to mean that I had to reevaluate the entire series, it was just a heady reminder of what I had really been watching. Whether everything that happened was just in the imagination of an autistic boy, or was just a bunch of actors pretending to be doctors on sound stages in Hollywood, none of it was real. To me, it is very much a joke just like the joke that ended Newhart, except the St Elsewhere joke is more of a thinker than a laugher.
Theoretically, the kid could have been replaying things in his head that he heard when his parents talked about work.
Old 08-21-22, 06:29 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by Jason View Post
Theoretically, the kid could have been replaying things in his head that he heard when his parents talked about work.
Things his construction worker father discussed about his job working on building sites?
Old 08-21-22, 07:49 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

Just since we are talking about St Elsewhere, the two-parter that showed the history of the hospital in 1935, 1945, 1955, 1965 and 1975 was one of the best things ever on TV in the 80s.
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Old 08-21-22, 07:50 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

Justified.100% without a doubt Justified.
I am a major Elmore Leonard fan and this series knocked it out of the park. Yes, some seasons were better than others but it didn't take long to find its footing, each season moved the overarching story along, and the acting was superb.

My spouse didn't really watch this much with me but she knew I loved it and knew enough from me to know the overall story. She happened to be with me when I watched the series finale live. She'll tell you I was crying when...
Spoiler:

Raylan and Boyd speak together in the prison:

Boyd: Can I ask you one question before you go?... That the only reason [you came to see me in person]? After all these long years, Raylan Givens... that's the only reason?
Raylan: Well, I suppose if I allow myself to be sentimental, despite all that has occurred... there is one thing I wander back to...
Boyd: We dug coal together.
Raylan: That's right.

And when Raylan said, "There is one thing I wander back to..." I tearfully whispered, "We dug coal together" just before Boyd said it.






When he said that, I smiled and the tears flowed. It was a perfect ending for their story, just perfect.

I'm excited for the new spin-off series in development. Bring it on.
Old 08-21-22, 07:54 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by Count Dooku View Post
Just since we are talking about St Elsewhere, the two-parter that showed the history of the hospital in 1935, 1945, 1955, 1965 and 1975 was one of the best things ever on TV in the 80s.
I had totally forgotten about that episode. I do remember watching it when it aired and thinking it was amazing. Thanks for the reminder.
Old 08-22-22, 11:31 AM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by Jason View Post
Me too. Both the "soft" finale at the mid season break in S4, which could have been it if the threatened writers strike had happened, and the actual ending were great.

The problem with the series is the very concept paints writers into a corner right off the bat. There are only four possible solutions: they arrive on Earth at some point in its history, they find another planet and stay there, they live in space forever, or they all die. BSG took the first option, bailed on it, took the second option and turned it into the first option. I never thought the religious overtones hurt the show, in fact the added level of mysticism contrasted nicely with the gritty, real life feel of things. All the main characters received closure and we learned what became of them in the long run.

True, the Cylons really never had a plan (thank you for nothing, opening credits) and some people feel the writers room didn't have one either, but it certainly worked better than either of its predecessors.
BSG was one of my favorite shows and while I love the series I only like the finale. I wish they had avoided the filler of back stories as they really detracted from the end for me. Seeing Bill, Ellen and Tigh drinking and President Rosalyn going on a date etc took me out of the moment and one of the most epic space battles I've seen when they ram the cylon base and do a full volley attack.
Old 08-23-22, 07:54 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

I know I'm biased, but...

Come on, there was never a more touching or fitting finale than "Sleeping In Light," the finale of Babylon 5.
Old 08-24-22, 11:28 AM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by Decker View Post
I'm curious, why?
I have always thought it was among the very worst finales. Overlong, melodramatic, preachy. I really liked MASH as a show and that finale was such a big deal when it aired. But I always felt that it was such a misstep the way they did it. Alan Alda having a sobbing breakdown in a mental hospital over a smothered baby on a bus? Is that what we want our final episode of this beloved comedy to focus on?
It was the most watched tv episode of all time. There was a lot of hefty scenes in the beginning of the episode, but the latter half of the episode managed to finish out the series fairly well. The show ended with the end of the war as it should have. Every character got to say their goodbyes to each other. We got to know, somewhat, what would happen to the characters after they went back to the states. We got the sense of closure for everyone on this series, compared to something like Cheers. The finale of Cheers was mostly just Sam meeting up with Diane again after a six year absence. But at the end of that episode, everything would just carry on like it always had. The last episode didn't feel like a final as much as it did a "sweeps" episode.
Old 08-24-22, 12:46 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

Of interest to this topic:

https://tvline.com/lists/best-tv-series-finales/
Old 08-24-22, 01:21 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

In general, modern serialized dramas and shows have an easier time about providing a proper finale than shows of the previous generations. Most shows now, have most of the entire series mapped out and have some sense of how the show will or should end. Older shows were much more open ended and they went episode by episode or season by season. They would also more than likely just get cancelled before the writers could plan a decent series finale.

Not many older shows (2000 or earlier) had an ending in mind as they hoped it would last indefinitely. In the very early days there would be a show like The Fugitive where you know where the show would eventually end, the same with MASH. Same thing with Star Trek Voyager. Three's Company ended their's with them all moving out and on with their life. But those shows were more the exception than the rule back then.

I think situation comedies also have a much more difficult time coming up with a decent finale or resolution for the series. Cheers left open with the impression that life was going to go on the same with them all continuing to hang out a bar every day. That was the writers' intentions, but it didn't make a good finale because of it.

Old 08-24-22, 01:46 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by movieguru View Post
In general, modern serialized dramas and shows have an easier time about providing a proper finale than shows of the previous generations. Most shows now, have most of the entire series mapped out and have some sense of how the show will or should end. Older shows were much more open ended and they went episode by episode or season by season. They would also more than likely just get cancelled before the writers could plan a decent series finale.
I remember the original Magnum PI had a series finale shot for the end of Season 7. It ended with Magnum in Limbo and on life support after getting shot. The show got renewed late and so Tom Selleck introduced the episode with a message for viewers that this isn't the series finale and Magnum would be back for another year.
Old 08-24-22, 09:58 PM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by B5Erik View Post
I know I'm biased, but...

Come on, there was never a more touching or fitting finale than "Sleeping In Light," the finale of Babylon 5.

I came in here to say the very same thing, the way Sheridan had run out of time and quietly faded away into the sunset (figuratively speaking) had me in tears.
Old 08-25-22, 10:15 AM
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Re: Best series finale?

Originally Posted by Decker View Post
Things his construction worker father discussed about his job working on building sites?
eh, kids are weird.

//that's what I get for commenting on a show I never watched. I assumed his parents worked there.

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