A round-up of some of the finales I haven’t yet covered

Erk. So many finales, so little time. With the upfronts happening at the same time, and with actual work to do, how am I going to review them all?

I know. How about one great big entry that gets rid of a whole load of them in one go, albeit with The Mentalist and CSI: Miami still to come?

So after the jump, brief spoiler-ridden looks at the finales (and preceding seasons) of 24, My Name is Earl, 30 Rock, Eleventh Hour, Gossip Girl and Prison Break.

For a while, this looked like it was going to be easily the best season of 24 so far. It had dialled down the crazy, created some decent new characters and fleshed out old favourites. The storyline wasn’t dragging, since the season had several sub-plots that carried on from one another. All was good.

Then they made Tony the bad guy and for four or five episodes, the tedium just mounted. Jack spent most of the final episodes just spasming and talking on the phone, rather than being our favourite action hero, and simple solutions to problems were saved up to the last minute in an effort to drag things out as much as possible.

The finale just about rescued the situation, giving Tony some plausible motivation, but it was still far from properly action-packed, with the actual plot ending 40 minutes before the end of the episode – admittedly a few good character moments in those last 40 minutes, as the show set itself up for season eight. About the only highlight was Kim Bauer, of all people, the heir to the “Damn it” catchphrase, who did her level best to rescue the situation but was still a bit rubbish. I was hoping she might pick up a gun, rather than just totter about in high heeled boots. What a shame.

My Name is Earl
A bit of a dull season, really. There were a few highlights, including the arrival of Crabman’s secret agent dad (Danny Glover). But although the finale was actually pretty funny, and the astronaut episode managed to be heartwarming, some of the episodes hardly raised a laugh at all. Too much ‘bad Earl’, as well, robbed the show of its charm at times. I think cancellation was the right move by NBC, because I think Earl’s time has come.

30 Rock
Very hit and miss this season, with some very funny moments, some involving Alec Baldwin, some involving Jon Hamm and quite a few involving Salma Hayek. Alan Alda’s arrival as Jack’s real dad was also a clever move. But 30 Rock is really
only good when it has standalone episodes that don’t try to build up too much plot. Problematically, there was way too much plot this season. Head and shoulders above other comedies, but still disappointing compared to previous seasons.

Eleventh Hour
Despite a promising start that improved greatly on the British original, this quickly fell off in quality, particularly once a third FBI agent was introduced and the show veered away from the possible towards the absolutely insane. The lack of real chemistry between the two leads – and the lack of opportunities for them to develop chemistry – was a problem that clearly stopped too many people from wanting to tune in from week to week. The result – a finale that no one realised was a finale at the time. But it’s gone now, so that’s that.

Gossip Girl
After a cracking first season, Gossip Girl went off the boil slightly this season. Forgetting all the experience gleaned from The OC, Josh Schwartz and co just spent most of their time pairing the characters off with each other, splitting them up, pairing them again before going back to the original pairings. A lot of the qualities that had differentiated the show from other fare – well written male characters, decent plots for the adults, a real sense of place in New York – were forgotten about too. The finale was a slightly odd affair, with the promised revelation of Gossip Girl herself (complete with set photographs of Kristen Bell to fool us all) never happening. Since they’re all off to college, the show’s going to be changing next year, so let’s hope that revitalises it.

Prison Break
If previous seasons had seemed as daft as a brush, this season was as daft as a chimney sweep’s backpack. With so much insane plotting that made no sense, constant family revelations (Lincoln isn’t Michael’s brother! Their mother is still alive!) and weird character changes and illogicality, this was simply a thrill ride that you had to turn your brain off for. Surprisingly, the season finale was a big return to form, with the reintroduction of some old favourites as well as one character assumed KIA. A surprisingly touching ending, too. Let’s assume the forthcoming TV movie will mess that up though.