The other night my friend Laura called, for those who don’t know her, she’s a random person, as much so as me. Naturally, our choice of topics was random (as it always is). We began talking about TV and Laura asked me about the show LOST and I mentioned (yet again) about the bad ending. At which point she told me that she had undertaken watching it. I told her to turn around and run because once the ending came she would be extremely…disheartened, as I was. There were no answers to key questions that were built throughout the series, but I’ll digress now, because I could go on about it for an hour. I quickly revised my statement, because truth be told I think LOST is one of the best and most unique shows I’ve ever watched; and I don’t throw that around lightly. Though some of my favorites are amazing shows, I would never categorize them as best, at least not as a whole. Season 1 of 24 was groundbreaking but by Season 8 had become almost a joke. LOST was different, no matter how disappointed I was in the ending, I can’t look back and call it a bad show. It was unique, well balanced, amusing, entertaining, and ALWAYS left you wanting more. That’s something hard to find in TV or movies today. (I will note that I haven’t watched some of the well-loved series such as Mad Men, Dexter, or The Closer).
Naturally, this whole topic launched us into good endings for TV shows, or really, the lack thereof. Honestly, I couldn’t remember the last great ending for a TV show I had seen. Hell, I couldn’t think of a good one. It so often seems that the people behind the shows forget who their characters and audience are by the end, whether its the last episode or a bad final season. We then recognized that many shows had fitting endings, Boy Meets World (a favorite of ours) and many other sitcoms. Laura mentioned that Buffy and Angel also had good endings. While I enjoyed the ending episode of Gilmore Girls, the entire 7th season was a let down for me. Don’t get me started on why 24 shouldn’t have killed off half their cast/should have ended after season 5. Prison Break, well my friend Sam and I made up our own ending, set after the 4th or 5th episode of season 2, because boy did it get stupid from there. Even amongst finding fitting or good show endings, we had a tough time figuring out an amazing one. In fact, we didn’t.
Later that night, my husband and I were watching TV and we stopped channel flipping at an episode of Seinfeld. He looked at me and said “Seinfeld.” I looked at him confused, after which he elaborated that Seinfeld had a truly unique ending. And they did. So in the category of awesome endings and a damn fine TV show, I put Seinfeld. I mean, hell, how do you beat sending them all to prison for basically being the a-holes they were for 9 seasons. It was great.
Up until this morning this topic was still leaving something to be desired. I think my brain was searching for something even better. And finally a show randomly popped into my head (for an entirely different reason). It’s a show that I honestly think was one of the best on TV, if not the best show in TV history. It made a giant impact, has a huge following (even today), was long-running, and was one of the most well received shows ever. It also had a great ending. It had an understated epicness. It was simple. It wrapped up the show in a beautiful and honest way. It made sense and it fit. And it was the first series ever to say bastard on TV. That’s right, I’m talking about M*A*S*H. And I don’t think I need to explain to anyone why it was truly awesome. But I will mention a few reasons why I think so. It dealt with real world problems. It was honest. It tackled difficult subjects and times with humor and grace. Alan Alda. A truly amazing show. And I mean it when I say, they don’t make ’em like that anymore…