The TV Challenge concludes…

What’s the best series finale you remember?

Most of the series I can think of either had unsatisfying finales, or just didn’t get finales— they simply stopped. I can think of very few series finales that resolved everything nicely, resisted the temptation to throw in sequel hooks, and didn’t have resort to any sort of obvious plot manipulation to arrive at the writers’ intended ending. Even worse, the finale sometimes came a season or more too late for some shows.

I really had to think to come up with a handful that not only had I actually seen, but remembered, and had also not been disappointed by for the reasons stated above. It’s a very short list.

Number Three: Star Trek: The Next Generation
I suggest a new strategy. Let the captain win.
Suddenly unstuck in time, the captain began bouncing between his present, the pilot episode, and many years in his future. It seemed that the Q entity had one more test for Picard to pass, and failure would wipe out humanity forever. Meanwhile, as he solved the riddle, Picard also observed his crew evolve from strangers, to trusted friends, and then eventually to distant friends who’d gone their separate ways. As a result of this, the normally aloof Picard finally joined the crew’s ongoing poker night in the episode’s denouement.
Number Two: Avatar: The Last Airbender

I hesitate to mention this show, not because I’m embarrassed to have watched it, but because the finale contains exactly what one would expect it to. The Avatar overthrows the evil Fire King and restores harmony to the Four Kingdoms. Really, the show is more about the journey to get to the point where that can happen, and then making sure that it does happen, unlike a certain other show about a teen with both superpowers and a destiny.

Number One: The Shield
Vic Mackey, Again
The web of deception, blackmail, and shifting alliances which had been spinning since the first episode finally crossed its critical mass threshold and spiraled down a Gibsonian whirlpool. Nobody got an exactly happy ending. In fact, most of the characters (who survived) found themselves firmly planted in some sort of ironic situation.

And that, dear friends, is the end of the TV Challenge. Thank you for following along. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming, whatever that is…

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