Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The End of Another Era...

LOST is coming to a somewhat bitter end this Sunday evening on ABC. Sure, diehard fans will finally get all of the answers that they've been seeking for the last six long years, but at the same time, they are losing a giant piece of the last six years of their lives. No more will they have an appointment-viewing show to tune into on Tuesday nights and then hit blogs and message boards until the wee hours of the morning discussing theories, characters, and clues. When I asked one friend if she wanted to come over for a viewing party for the finale, she replied back that she would most likely "be in a ball in the corner of her bed," an emotional mess at the state of losing her favorite show. So I thought long and hard-- and then eventually took to Twitter-- to try to find some of the other most memorable finales for devout fandoms and how they matched up to expectations. Take a look at what I've compiled and feel free to sound off in the comments about any I may have left out.

Melrose Place shut its courtyard doors on May 24 1999 with an episode more jam-packed full of melodrama than most of the others leading up to it-- but that was to be expected with such a large cast of characters to wrap up. Some, like Eve (Rena Sofer) who had kidnapped Lexi (Jamie Luner) and kept her held hostage in one of the upper units, finally got their comeuppance; some, like Kyle and Jane (then-real life husband and wife Rob Estes and Josie Bissett), finally got back together; and one Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro) got what he didn't even deserve in the Chief of Staff title and a huge sum of money. But most importantly, Amanda (Heather Locklear) was facing prison for the first time, after admitting she killed a man, and her doctor-boyfriend who truly made her the bitch she grew into, Peter (Jack Wagner) faked their deaths in a cabin explosion so the two could go off and live happily ever after...or at least until their money ran out and Amanda had to hightail it back to 4616 to look for stolen art (apparently). It was an episode that gave beloved characters proper send-offs but yet still left long-time audience members wanting more-- the perfect blend for a series finale of any kind!

Though Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her somewhat motley crew of other slayers and "potentials" ultimately defeated the First Evil on the May 20 2003 finale of the show of the same name, the town imploded on itself, and they were forced to flee. In doing so, they set up that the future could hold so many things: they could stay together, a band on a bus, and head to another town that might need saving, or they could always go their separate ways and try to lead normal lives. The last shot of the episode featured Buffy contemplating just exactly what they should do after her little sister Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) expositionally asked just that. Would a movie follow? Or more graphic novels? Or even guest appearances by some of the fan faves on the spin-off? The possibilities were ripe, and that riled the fans up!

Sex and the City took a turn in its final season on HBO, taking Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) out of her beloved New York City. In doing so, the show removed her from all four of her core friends-- yes, four; the city was one in and of itself. But the series finale, which aired on February 22 2004, finally put things back to the way they should be! Not only did Carrie return home, and into the arms of her friends, but she also found her way back to her "true" love, Big (Chris Noth). Charlotte (Kristin Davis) was finally completing her family by adopting a daughter; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) had softened and allowed another in when she began caring for Steve's ailing mother; and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) was on the mend from her bout with cancer and her spirits-- soon to be followed by her sex drive, assumedly-- were on the rise. Sure when we finally learned Big's first name, it was somewhat disappointing at how generic it was for such an iconic figure, but the ladies finally all seemed happy at the same time, so most fans chose not to let such a little detail annoy and overshadow!

Monica, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Ross, and Rachel all turned in their apartment keys on the May 6 2004 finale of Friends in a two-part episode that had the gang packing up and going their separate ways-- literally. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) was supposed to move to Paris but at last minute decided she wanted to "try again" with Ross (David Schwimmer) instead; Monica (Courteney Cox-Arquette) and Chandler (Matthew Perry)'s surrogate had twins, and they moved to a house upstate; and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) had just gotten married. Fans loved that the two core couples of the ten-year run were both together, but they were somewhat disappointed that there was no mention of Joey (Matt LeBlanc) moving to Los Angeles within the show, even though the network had already announced plans for his spin-off sitcom. Still, after a decade, it truly was "the end of an era!," as Rachel once proclaimed. And it was one during which so many literally grew up with the cast and characters, so when the camera panned the empty apartment and zoomed in on the picture frame that was left behind around the peephole, the tears flowed and any imperfect in the story was forgiven and forgotten.

After six years of acclaim and awards, The Sopranos ended on June 10 2007 with somewhat of a whimper instead of the bang we had come to expect. The last scene, in particular, after Tony (James Gandolfini)'s main threat had been "taken care of," was what intrigued critics but in many cases infuriated fans. The Soprano clan sat at a table in a diner, simply, typically, and the picture faded to black. No final, judgmental comeuppance for Tony ala Goodfellas but no last blaze of glory, either. Sure, one could say we're finally seeing them as just a regular family, and that might be commentary in and of itself, and sure by fading to black, we can fill in the next scenes with our own imaginations and biases (well, we have to since David Chase has decided, much like the LOST writers, that he will never address it again), but in many ways, that's something of a cop-out after all the time, energy, and emotion we invested.

Let's hope LOST fares the way of the former examples!

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