Seeing as how I've spent the last week relaying news about TV, the usual topics for my short takes pieces are gone. On the other hand I've let a number of season finales go uncommented on, something which not only needs to be rectified but if done briefly also provides me with ample subject matter for this piece.
Sunday: The West Wing - Not just a season finale but a series finale. Before I say anything else, let me just express how profoundly disappointed I was with the way that NBC handled this series this year. First they moved the show to Sunday night, supposedly to "protect it" from competition from Lost and then, when the ratings went down (because of the move to Sunday) they announced that they'd be ending the show at the end of this year. And then they treated it the show was something being eliminated at the end of a single season instead of one of the most critically acclaimed series of the past decade. A planned retrospective was called off because NBC and Warner Brothers didn't want to pay the extra money and the episode itself was only an hour long (while Law & Order: Criminal Intent got a two hour season ender) and opposite the Survivor.
And yes I think the show needed a two hour finale. The whole atmosphere of the episode felt rushed, which I suppose is fitting given that the subject was the Inaugural Day transition between the old and new presidencies but I confess that I wanted a bit more. I wanted more closure to Charlie's story and more about where the relationship between Josh and Donna was going. I wanted to meet Sam's fiance and find out if she was an ex-hooker who has a relative working as a hospital administrator in New Jersey or a blonde conservative lawyer who quit the Hoover Institute after nine days. There were some great touches that were enough to bring pangs of nostalgia but it's like going to Disneyland for just one day - there's so much more that you want to see than you can. In this case though it was the people who were running things who decided that you weren't going to see anymore, and I think it was disrespectful.
Monday: Grey's Anatomy - This they give the whole night to, courtesy of President Bush. ABC decided to repeat the first hour of the finale from Sunday night rather than show Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball after Bush's Immigration speech. That was, I think, a little too much. The two hour finale was full of sound and fury but was there was a clear separation between the first and second hours for easy syndication. Yeah there were revelations, tears and laughter, sexual tension resolved, and storylines carefully left dangling over the edge of a cliff to hold onto the audience for next season. And yes there was good acting, particularly from Katherine Heigl who was by turns manic, depressed, full of joy and defeated. And even though Izzy is leaving Dr. Bailey's little band of surgical "butt kissers" I can't help but hope that they'll somehow manage to keep her on the show, just because she turned in such good work this season.
Wednesday: The Amazing Race - Yeah, I know that I should be writing about what turned out to be the series finale of Invasion but I'll let you in on a little secret - I've been missing both Lost and Invasion a lot in the past few weeks. At least with Lost I should be able to pick up some of what I missed during the summer. Besides, I love The Amazing Race. I really liked this season. It wasn't as much fun as the seventh season of the show which pitted Rob & Amber fans against Romber haters it was easily better than the dismal Family Edition. And hey a team that was not only one of my favourites but actually deserved it won. BJ & Tyler - The Hippies - had fun with the race but also brought some real skills to it. This was more than could be said for Ray & Yolanda, who seemed to get lost and start arguing at the drop of Ray's hat. As for Eric & Jeremy the so-called Frat Boys - who were actually college drop-out and from community college at that - while they excelled at the physical aspects they revealed some negative aspects to their character when they cancelled the cabs of two of the teams and made disparaging remarks about BJ & Tyler. And that doesn't even mention their apparently insatiable desire for sex with any young female they encountered. While some fans of the show have stated that they found the "Hippies"' shtick wore thin, they were smart players who made an effort to learn a few words of the language at every stop they made. They deserved it.
Thursday: CSI - I realise that nothing they could do would compare to last season's Quentin Tarantino directed finale, but really this was a rather lackluster pedestrian effort. The major event was the shooting of Captain Brass in the previous episode but since that case was solved - or more accurately the perpetrator was terminated - we were left with an "ordinary" (well ordinary for CSI) case of a decapitated man found on a railroad track. Underlying it all was the prospect of Brass dying and the various CSIs standing vigil for him. One interesting aspect was that Brass had given Grissom his medical power of attorney despite the fact that, as Grissom told Greg, their relationship was entirely work related: "We don't hang out Greg." It indicates a level of trust and almost intimacy that doesn't need to happen away from the workplace. The one thing to take the show above the ordinary was the revelation in the final minute or two, where we discover that Grissom is intimate (in a sexual way) with Sara Sidel. There's been speculation for some time among serious fans that the producers were going to bring them together. What's really interesting - to me anyway - is that there's a sense of intimacy and familiarity that suggests that we're only seeing it for the first time but that they've been together for a while. I'm not sure if this is a good development or not (supposedly it has a lot of people "enraged") but it certainly has shaken things up.
Friday: Numb3rs - I don't really have much to say about this except that it indicates an interesting approach by the writers and producers. According to co-creator and executive producer Cheryl Heuton, the premise of the show was so different that "this show had to tell people what it was about a little longer than most." Now they're finally able to delve deeper into the character's relationships. The season finale was interesting but less for the case - a serial killer for whom the stresser was having his trust fund cut off - than for the insight that we got into Charlie's character and history. The execution was interesting, using that most illogical of mediums - dreams - to give us some sense of what shaped a character whose occupation as a scientist forces him to be eminently logical.