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The Filming of Television Finales

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Yearly, I am perplexed by the way the television industry works.  I don't know how to change it, but it doesn't seem right that many shows film their last episode of the season not knowing if it will be the season, or series, finale.  It seems like a bad way to operate.

Look at last night's How I Met Your Mother.  At the end of the episode, and yes, this is a spoiler, so if you haven't watched the episode you may want to stop reading, Ted asked Stella to marry him.  It was an ill-conceived, ill-advised, marriage proposal.  The man's been dating her 3 months and yet he knows that he wants to spend his life with her?  I don't think so.  He'd just had a near death experience and was regretting dumping her, so he proposed marriage.

 

Now, the series is all about how Ted meets the mother of his future children, and the show was "on the bubble" for next season when this episode was filmed.  The episode was meant to serve, if necessary, as a series finale, not just a season finale.  If it was a series finale, I think we are to understand that Stella is the mother of Ted's kids.  As a season finale… who knows.  She may be, she may not be. 

 

Doesn't that change things just a tad?  Doesn't that alter not just our perception of the show but the actuality of the show as well?  So, I just don't know.

 

Don't get me wrong, I still like the series, I think it's one of the best comedies on television, I just don't know how they're headed to their conclusion, and it most definitely is a show that needs a satisfying conclusion.  The entire premise of it is telling this story, and stories need good endings, there's nothing worse than sitting around for hours while some schmo tells a story and having it end poorly.  It's going to need a sense of closure, a sense of having been worthwhile, and I just don't know how they get there.  Great humor along the way, and the show has had great humor, isn't the same as a satisfying conclusion.    It just isn't.

 

Now, a show like American Gladiators can pretty much just end and have it make no difference.  Yes, it would be nice to know who wins this second tournament, but if NBC decided to pull the plug this week (and with the ratings who could blame them, it was #4 in its time period both in total viewers and adults 18-49), I don't think there would be a hue and cry that it didn't end well.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'd miss it, but there would be no hue and cry.  Okay, I might issue a small hue and cry about the fact that Crush wouldn't appear on my TV on a weekly basis, but that would be about it.  Ah, Crush.  Everyone's favorite gladiator, and mine more so. 

 

I hope she knows that Erin Medley and I have this internet radio show and she has a standing invitation to appear.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
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