US TV

Season finales: Scrubs and House

In the penultimate of my series of finale guides this week, I’m having a look at two medical dramas: House and Scrubs (no, I won’t be covering Grey’s Anatomy: it’s pants).

House's finale

House

With no real story arcs to clear up, House could have just ended with business as usual. Instead, the season has a cracking and indeed shocking conclusion. There’s enough misdirection in it to make it hard for all but the most jaded to spot what’s going on. There’s also no pat resolution, making it a tense summer for the House fan. Although we can guess that the regular character in jeopardy will survive through to the next season, there’s a possibility that things won’t return to the status quo: indeed, the episode went through most of the possible changes that could occur, so you’ll be able to spend the wait working out which is the most likely.

Tension factor: 8/10

Scrubsfinale

Scrubs

This season’s been a bit rubbish, so it’s no surprise that the finale should be rubbish. Resorting to one pregnancy: that’s a bit tired, but reasonably acceptable. Resorting to two pregnancies: that’s starting to suggest desperation. But three pregnancies? Just how few ideas do you have to have left to try that? No real tension here, given that we’ve had no build up to these bolts from the blue, so don’t fret too much.

Tension factor: 2/10

US TV

CSI finales

Continuing this year’s season finale guide, today I’m going to be looking at the final US episodes of the latest seasons of the CSI shows: CSI, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York.

The finale of CSI



CSI

Despite the promised tension of the potential death of a much-loved character, the finale lacked any real kind of tension. Instead, it was business as usual as the team investigated various crimes while Character X languished on his or her death bed, flat-lining every time an advert break was due. However, the ending lacked life-and-death tension, but had an emotional tension instead that makes you wonder what direction the show will go in next year. Still the best of the CSI shows, but they really don’t know how to open or close a season well, I’ll tell you that much.

Tension: 6/10

Csimiamifinale

CSI: Miami

With the promised conclusion of the “mole” storyline, the death of two ‘regulars’ and much more promised for this episode, it comes as no surprise to learn that it was all a bit of a letdown and astonishingly stupid at the same time. That’s CSI: Miami for you. Everything’s wrapped up nicely at the end with the traditional Miami message – the legal system is stacked against the victims and if only David Caruso was in charge and allowed to kill all the bad people, the world would be fine. A foreign trip and a reunion is promised for the start of next season, so long-time viewers are going to be all a tizzy; everyone else will be vaguely bored.

Tension factor: 3/10 (irregular viewers); 5/10 (regular viewers)

Csinewyorkfinale

CSI: New York

On paper, this should have been quite exciting. But then so should the previous episode have been, in which a former favourite gets burnt alive. But it wasn’t. This suggests there’s something wrong in the whole New York set-up (maybe the direction; maybe the cast) that needs some fixing. It’s also becoming clear that what the producers and cast would really like is a show about Mac (Gary Sinise), the ex-marine, and the skills he brings to everyday New York from the army. Sinise, whose band goes around playing gigs to support the US armed forces, would clearly like that too, and the show would certainly be more interesting than the cast-off forensics plots that CSI proper didn’t want and anything involving the other ‘characters’. So quite dull as a finale. But unlike Miami and regular CSI, which both had life-threatening scenarios for regulars, this don’t cop out (ooh, what a pun) and someone is still in the poorly bed at the end. If you’re a CSI:NY fan, it’ll be a tense summer. Otherwise, you’ll find it very easy to resist its pull.

Tension factor: 1/10 (irregular viewers); 7/10 (regular viewers)

US TV

Season finales: Alias, 24, The Unit

Today’s finales guide is going to look at the silly spy shows of US TV.

Alias finale

Alias

Pants. I missed the Rambaldi episode. Instead, the finale dealt with a whole load of silly things, as you might expect with Alias. Various character arcs get resolved, both happily and happily, but ultimately you get the feeling the last five years was all for nothing. Oh well.

Disappointment factor: 5/10.

Jack Bauer in 24

24

Not the most tense of seasons, but by no means the worst (season 3?), this year’s 24 does have the most tense finale of them all. How does Jack get out of that one? Maybe Dale or Professor Zarkov can fashion a ‘ray’ to save him. Anyway, brace yourself.

Tension factor: 10/10.

The Unit finale

The Unit

After a terribly impressive 12th episode that took virtually none of the conventional paths in the standard “bomb in the building that needs defusing” scenario, the finale proved to be a terrible piece of silliness that went for guns and ammo plus francophobia in preference to sensible plotting. The conclusion makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, either. It’s not a cliffhanger, so the tension factor’s low, but you really wish there’d been a better choice of episode to round off a good first season.

Tension factor: 4/10

US TV

Season finale: Lost

Lost's big foot

Lost‘s finale was just so plain weird and wacky, it deserves its own entry in my continuing season finale guide. Worry ye not, UK viewers, I won’t spoil it for you.

Most of the second season has been dull. Sorry to say that, but it’s been dull (and, it turns out, mostly pointless). The last few episodes have reversed that with several hours of shocking carnage that have wiped out all kinds of popular characters you never thought would get the chop (assuming they don’t make miracle recoveries, hide under large objects, etc). It’s all been really rather good. The finale was some really tasting icing on the cake, though.

First off, don’t expect any answers to questions you might be having. You won’t get any. At least, you won’t get any that make any sense or that couldn’t be elaborate bluffs. Yes, you will find out what happens if you don’t keep pushing the button down the hatch, but you won’t really know why. You’ll find out why the plane crashed on the island, but again, it won’t make too much sense. Etc etc. Lots of revelations. Lots of flashbacks where you see characters’ pasts intertwining. My theory of a live-action role-playing game is starting to make more sense, too, given the number of wigs and false beards that people are starting to sport.

But it all doesn’t matter because all the new questions are even more interesting and send the show in all kinds of odd directions. I got the feeling while watching the finale that Lost was turning into 70s weirdo Bermuda Triangle show The Fantastic Journey. Look at the picture above. That’s a giant statue of a foot (we’re assuming there used to be more to it than that, but who knows). Now count the toes (click on the picture to make it bigger, if you need to). See what I mean? Weird. And there’s a whole lot more weird where that came from (this was purely incidental weird that doesn’t affect the plot in any way, BTW, so don’t think I’ve ruined anything for you).

It’s going to be a long wait for the next season, given they’re going to try to run it without re-runs (January start instead of September, next season?) and the ending is particularly gripping, so I’m giving this a high tension rating

Tension rating: 10/10

PS One of the great things about Lost incidentally, is that it uses Australian and other non-American actors. Apparently though, there are enough Australian actors in the US for them to be used to play non-Australian roles in Lost, too. I say this because the finale casts Alan Dale (Jim from Neighbours) as a posh English bloke. Odd.

PPS Am confidently expecting an article from Lucy Mangan to appear in The Guardian in about 18 weeks or so about what she’d like to see happen in the finale. At about 1600 words for a double-page spread and at the standard freelance rate for The Guardian, that would be about £350 or so that could be mine if I wrote it right now. But I’d never pitch it because it would be a complete waste of time and space for everyone including the readers. Sigh.

TV reviews

The US season finales are upon us: Smallville, Supernatural, Prison Break, The West Wing

A good finale to a TV series can keep you watching even the biggest rubbish imaginable. They can be exciting, tense and a whole load of other things.

Stress, of course, is a major health hazard. Therefore, so that UK viewers can brace themselves to an appropriate degree, I’ll be giving near-spoiler free guides to just how tense and exciting each of the major US TV shows’ finales were, starting today. US TV shows don’t end all at once: they’re spread over a period of three weeks or so, so there’ll be another couple of updates to come after this over the next week or so.

Chlark

Smallville

Pretty tense, but not quite as tense as previous seasons’. Some good moments, some irritating moments and one excellent moment. Yes, Chloe and Clark finally get to smooch. Ha, Lana! I’m expecting a typical Smallville memory-wipe next season, though, so the tension will be only temporary at best.

Tension factor: 7/10

Supernatural

Supernatural

The finale was a couple of weeks ago and was actually quite good. Bleak, nasty and with almost no hope for the “sexy supernatural ghosthunters”. Since it’s part of an ongoing plot, I’ve no idea how quickly things will revert to X-Files “monster of the week” or whether there’ll be a format change coming with the move of the show to The CW.

Tension factor: 8/10

They made the break

Prison Break

It’ll be no surprise for anyone to hear that the motley band of inmates manages to escape in the last episode. Or that it all goes a bit pear-shaped. But there are a good collection of other surprises and the ending is actually my one solitary recurring nightmare. Obviously, with them out of prison, there’s going to be a complete change of format in season two, so it’ll be worth tuning in to see what season two will be like “After the Prison Break”.

Tension factor: 9/10

The West Wing's finale

The West Wing

Since the show’s been cancelled, no tension at all here. The finale was written by John Wells, who’s been responsible for most of the worst episodes of the show of late. It had a couple of okay moments and a few resolutions of ongoing plot lines, but not many. A flat ending to a former favourite.

Disappointment factor: 8/10

In the coming guides: CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, House, Numb3rs, 24, Scrubs, Lost, The Unit (assuming it has a finale soon – they’re showing two episodes every Tuesday now)

Incidentally, in compiling this guide, I watched CSI: New York for the first time in ages because the episode on last week looked like it should have been the finale. But it wasn’t. Anyway, the show’s still dull, it turns out, but I’ll bite the bullet, take one for the team, and watch this week’s episode, too.