US TV

Season finales: Numb3rs and Medium

It’s the last of the finale guides for this year (unless I missed a show) and so it’s time to deal with everything that didn’t fit into any neat categories.

Numb3rs

Numb3rs

After a pretty insipid season that lost most of the things that made the first season so good, we have… a pretty insipid finale that veers into even worse territory. Don’t fret since there’s no real cliffhanger, other than the possibility that we won’t bother tuning in next year.

Tension factor: 2/10.

Mediumfinale

Medium‘s had a pretty dull season, too, this year, lacking the sparky dialogue and situations that gave it such a good start. The finale does at least give us a good ending to the season, thanks to an alternative universe episode in which Allison burns her arm on an oven grate and winds up married to David James Elliott from JAG. It has some nice moments and is more of a paean to married life than a finale, but it was still nicely heart-warming. No tension whatsoever to affect the nerves once we get into alternative universe territory, although the opening suggests that something more drastic is going to happen. The episode, however, is more the visual equivalent of a mug of Ovaltine than a thrill ride at Thorpe Park. On the other hand, it did feature Peter Wingfield as a baddie with no dialogue. Since you just don’t get Peter Wingfield in to sit there and say nothing, this suggests he might be back in a recurring role next year, which is probably enough to make most people tense.

Tension: 1/10-7/10

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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

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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)

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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

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UK TV

Review: Doctor Who – 2×7 – The Idiot’s Lantern

The Idiot's Lantern

I’m supposed to be writing a white paper on the Web 2.0 conference I went to in Edinburgh last Monday. So naturally, because I am the King of Procrastination, I’m writing about Saturday’s episode of Doctor Who.

On the whole, I’d say not bad. The 50s tele stuff made me all nostalgic for a decade I never lived through, which was quite impressive. The face-sucking was done nicely.

On the other hand, the union flag/jack debate annoyed me because Rose was just plain wrong (gasp, factual inaccuracies in Doctor Who!). The plot and the denouement had a few issues that really couldn’t be fixed in post. And the general bog-standard interpretation of the 50s – great decade for wife beaters, we fought in the war for the right to be lippy, etc – began to grate. Could we avoid the moralising please?

Basically, a reasonable filler piece as has been remarked elsewhere.

The Man Without A FaceOne last thing. Writer Mark Gatiss is a long-time sci-fi fan, something you may have noticed if you watched Doctor Who Confidential after the episode. He has, for instance, played Gold in the Big Finish Sapphire and Steel audio plays. So I wonder where he got the idea for the face-sucking in The Idiot’s Lantern. I’ll give you a visual clue: here’s the baddie in the fourth Sapphire and Steel TV ‘assignment’, as they’re called. Look familiar?

He does like his homages does Gatiss.