ABC’s Traveler never had a fair chance. Simply getting a debut following Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t nearly enough to give the show a shot at engaging a summer audience that are sticklers for easy, breezy television. Traveler isn’t easy, but it certainly is breezy enough. The series moved at a blistering pace to fit an entire season’s worth of action into a single, short eight episode season. The show’s pilot was a blistering piece of work, an action-packed hour of mystery and intrigue.
It is perhaps, then, interesting to see that this finale is really about the reunion of Jay and Tyler with Will Traveler, this time with very different circumstances than in the pilot. Once three friends on a road trip across America, they’re now fugitives on the loose with the FBI on their trail, and one of them isn’t who he said he was. This isn’t a finale about action, but about emotional payoff for its characters. The dynamic of the three young males is perhaps the most important one, but Marlowe’s payoff has been equally choreographed. And let’s not forget the Porter, a mysterious character who needs an explanation. So, the Traveler finale had a lot to prove.
And, well, it did as you’d expect: a solid finale to a solid series. That is, until its ending.
It’s kind of hard to get excited about this, the 3rd Season Finale of HBO’s Entourage. No, it’s not really the quality of the show, it’s been fairly decent heading into it. No, the problem is that in just two weeks the show’s 4th Season begins. That’s right: only next week will be Entourage-free. As a result, one can’t help but feel that any cliffhangers will be somewhat less suspenseful knowing that in only two weeks we’ll get our conclusion. And, smartly, the episode didn’t end on a cliffhanger at all. Sure, there are multiple story threads sitting around waiting to be picked up that could cause some trouble, but they’re all left at that stage. With a Spanish-language version of “Hotel California” playing us out, we’re left wondering about the future of Medellín, about the future of Johnny’s series (and his finances) and in general the future of this entourage. And, well, I’m kind of happy that we’ll find out in just two weeks.
For the second straight year, I again got behind on watching House. Something about coming home from university always puts me in a position where I choose Veronica Mars over House, and just don’t get around to watching it. As a result, I caught up on the first previous four weeks’ episodes over the past few days. With the episodes fresh in my memort, I feel like I had a great deal of momentum heading into this finale, and I expected things to come to a conclusion of sorts. And, in the end, it delivered: House leaves the airwaves with his team disappearing beneath him and preparing for yet another major change, and we’ll have to wait until next season to see how it pans out. With a case that relates to the key themes of the episode, and a focus on the interpersonal relations at Princeton-Plainsboro, “Human Error” lives up to the show’s higher standards.
Well, this week has seen perhaps three of the biggest cult hits of the last decade end their seasons. 24, Heroes, and Lost are perhaps the biggest shows amongst the younger viewers that advertisers crave so much, and each show also shares something else: a rabid fanbase. These fanbases are devoted, and I have been a part of each of them since each series began. Which is why I want to, over the next few days, consider the way these three shows ended their seasons. I want to do so on a number of levels (Because my decision on quality will be one-sided). While the others will take time, the first thing that we need to consider is gloriously quantitative.
Lost needs to be commended for a HUGE Post-Idol boost, as people seemed willing to watch just the final hour of the season after the reality show concluded. That huge boost in viewership boosts Lost’s total viewers ahead of Heroes, and its overall 18-49 within the same range. Facing off against stiffer competition, Lost is inevitable the ratings champion amongst the three shows with a strong performance in all key categories in the tougher spot…and it bodes well for next season with 15.4 Million catching the last half hour of the episode.
Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass” tells the story of young Alice traveling through a mirror into a world much like her own. She describes her vision of this room as follows:
‘Now, if you’ll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I’ll tell you all my ideas about Looking-glass House.First, there’s the room you can see through the glass–that’s just the same as our drawing room, only the things go the other way.I can see all of it when I get upon a chair–all but the bit behind the fireplace. Oh! I do so wish I could see THAT bit! I want so much to know whether they’ve a fire in the winter: you never CAN tell, you know, unless our fire smokes, and then smoke comes up in that room too–but that may be only pretence, just to make it look as if they had a fire.Well then, the books are something like our books, only the words go the wrong way; I know that, because I’ve held up one of our books to the glass, and then they hold up one in the other room.
‘How would you like to live in Looking-glass House, Kitty?’
Tonight, after the season finale of Lost, we’ve glimpsed “Through the Looking Glass”. It is like the world we knew, but yet it is different. The words go the wrong way, and a fire burns brightly but at more strength than ever before. Everything is going the wrong way, and we cannot see what is behind the fireplace…but we want to know.
We would like to live in the Looking-glass house very much, Alice. Very much indeed.
When Gilmore Girls ended its run last week, it was supposed to be an unsatisfying end to a series that had been stagnating for the previous year. It was supposed to be an unplanned, thrown together finale that failed to address the show’s main issues. And, somehow, it managed to be just about as good as it could have been considering the circumstances. It is therefore unfortunate that I can’t say the same for Veronica Mars’ solution to a similar circumstance. While these two episodes combined represent perhaps the best the show has managed all season, the conflict and issues presented were not that of resolution but of upheaval. We left our heroine walking through the rain to the melancholy tones of “It Never Rains in Southern California.” In her there is sadness, frustration, guilt…but there is no happiness. There is no finale. I said earlier today that I was all set to say goodbye to Veronica Mars…but I take it all back. I’m not ready at all.
Heroes’ first season has been a rollercoaster ride for fans as it reaches its season finale. For me personally, it has been at its best when it deals with either awesome comic book action (The overrated but exhilarating ‘Five Years Gone’), or investigations of the personal sacrifice of these individuals (the stunning ‘Company Man’). However, there are other episodes which fail to be either of these things. These episodes are instead complicated hours of television which follow traditional drama plotting, losing sight of the show’s comic book ties in favour of clichéd resolutions right out of, well, a lesser TV show. “How to Stop an Exploding Man”, unfortunately, falls into this latter category. The episode was supposed to be an epic conclusion with ramifications for future seasons, but instead felt like a feel good story of redemption with nothing but teases at what the future holds. And, for this unsatisfying season finale, I place the blame on series creator Tim Kring.
Two ABC finales went by over the past few days without me reviewing them, and there’s a reason for it. Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives each lost my interest this year, the latter towards the beginning and the prior towards the end. I have gotten to the point where the dramas seem like a never-ending cycle of happy and unhappy, usually remarkably quick to turn the delightful into the depressing. And, it was therefore somewhat disheartening to see that the finales of both shows tended to reflect this: Grey’s ended on one of the most depressing sequence of events in television history, and Desperate Housewives ended with someone swinging from the rafters. As a result, I can’t help but feel disillusioned with these series for taking the easy way out. They ended with cliffhangers of a shocking nature, designed to beat our senses into submission. It is therefore that I highlight the only ABC finale of the past week which handled itself with subtlety and grace, and the only one that had the balls to end happily. That finale is “The Matriarchy”, the season-concluding episode of Freshman success Brothers & Sisters.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, I wasn’t actually able to watch Saturday Night Live, well, live. However, while my overall thoughts will have to wait, here’s some YouTube videos which are providing a bit of a preview. I’ll try to keep the videos alive over time, but I offer no promises.
[Special Thanks go out to YouTube user Wings1914 for another week of fantastic YouTube SNL work]
Zach Braff’s Monologue – A New Jersey State of Mind
I like it. It involves singing, actual comedy, thumbs up.
SNL Sigital Short – Rufus: Dog Love
Good use of dialogue, strong use of adorable dog, a bit gross in the end, but quality overall.
The Office closed its season tonight with a series of job interviews, a new regime taking over the Office, and a set of boobs which Michael can’t ignore in “The Job”. The series’ second season ended with a high note, closing with the epic “Casino Night”. It had everything: moments for every supporting character, Michael with a low-key and charming love triangle, and of course…the kiss heard round the world. And, while “The Job” was certainly not a terrible hour of television, it failed to live up to all of the qualities which made Casino Night so great.