Finales 1999 Television
by Jay S.
Okay, four shows have disappeared off of
the pop-cultural radar and I just wanted to share my thoughts on their final farewells...
(Okay, Suddenly Susan is coming back, but not for me...) Don't read further if
you haven't yet watched and don't want certain plot-points ruined.
Okay, big confession here! I LOVE Fran
and have always enjoyed the show. But boy, was this one ready to go! The big finale was
just a piling on of 50s sit-com cliches. Fran gives birth to twins. She goes into labor
while stuck in an elevator. Niles and C.C. get married. The family gathers around the
waiting room. It turns out she's having twins. None of it was funny. I hope Fran continues
working for years, but this was painful...
Homicide-Life on the Street
By far the best show on this list (and
on television in this year of our lord 1999,) so it is no big surprise that their
fare-thee-well packed the most punch. Possibly because the episode was not necessarily
filmed as a final episode -- though it did work as a finale as one of the major characters
makes a moral choice that changes everything the show has been about. It's sad that the
best drama on TV had to go off just one year after the best comedy, but at least it went
out while it was still on top of its game.
The big David Strickland-suicide episode
was a nice thing to do, though in the long run it really wasn't all that well done. First
of all, if they really wanted to do a tribute, they should have dispensed with the normal
wacky-Susan subplots about Luis having a cold and Vicky trying to scam a guy into dating
her via a cell phone. (By the way, in this episode celebrating a dead friend, isn't it a
little tacky that Vicky is already trolling for guys when in the show has been a widow for
less than three months?) The bye-Todd stuff was nice, though made little sense as a story.
Everyone is panicked because they haven't heard from Todd in almost five hours on a day
that Jack gave him off? I go weeks without hearing from friends and don't assume they are
dead. Susan gets so worried that she follows him through an easy trail where she meets one
eccentric after another that loves Todd. Problem is, the show makes it seem like these are
weekly rituals for Todd after earlier pointing out that this was a one-time day-off. When
they finally find out that Todd has had his "accident," they roll the obligatory
Todd's "Greatest Hits" clips and then end with a blackened screen that reads
something like "The great Gods of comedy have smiled down on you." I'm sorry,
David Strickland? I mean I liked him, too, but that's a bit much, isn't it?
Mad About You
Sadly, another show way past due for a
mercy killing. This last episode was all over the map. Janeane Garafolo plays a grown-up
Mabel in the year 2022 as a whiny, angry, overly-sentimental Gen X slacker (will they
still have Gen X slackers in the year 2022, and won't they all be in their 50s if they
do?) They flip in and out of the years from 1999 to 2022 resorting to tragedy (Burt
Buckman dies), pathos (Murray the Dog dies), warm-fuzziness (Murray the Dog has puppies
before he dies), predictable plot twists (Paul and Jamie break up) and more predictable
plot resolutions (Paul & Jamie get back together). Built on the very weak premise that
Paul and Jamie find out they never legally got married, Mabel goes on and on about how her
parents screwed her up with no evidence as to why. The time travelling doesn't work,
either, though the aging makeup is well done, everything seems to have happened in the
early 90s. At one point in a 2012 scene, Paul lectures Mabel by quoting the song
"When A Man Loves A Woman", which would be fifty-years-old at that point, and
yet Mabel is supposed to get the reference. It all leads up to the obligatory clip scene
that shows how happy everyone is, and what wonderful people they all are, after all. It's
bad when the biggest laugh in the show is about Hank Azaria, who has always been
crushingly unfunny on this show. Let's find a new final frontier!
rights reserved. Revised:
April 28, 2022.