Series finale month continues my friends!
Today I want to talk about a final episode to a popular series which was awful. After nine years of being a groundbreaking comedy, it goes out on a really disappointing note. As you may have guessed, I am referring to :
Show of hands, who is surprised I picked this one as my example of a terrible series finale? This is universally considered a dispointing final episode though it does have its fans. But is it really as bad as people say?
“Into That Good Night”
This aired on May 20, 1997 and left a lot of viewers…confused.
Plot Summary:Darlene and the baby comes home as the family gathers and DJ is forced into the basement. Then….but we’ll get to that.
Best Line:”And most important, I learned that God does exist. He and/or She is right inside you, underneath the pain, the sorrow, and the shame. I think I’ll be a lot better now that this book is done. “…Roseanne (the end of the loonnng monologue)
Nitpick of the Episode:Ah that ending….this episode is so nice and then suddenly it takes a sharp turn into the twilight zone. But I will save that discussion for my final thoughts.
Standout Character:Darlene, of all the characters it feels that she has come the most full circle from wisecracking kid to depressed teen to mature mother.
Syndication Edit-I am not sure honestly
Episode Fun Fact:The episode ends with this T.S. Eliot quote. “Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.”
Final Thoughts-Well my friends what can I say? But to be fair the final episode wasn’t a betrayal of the series–that whole last season was! What the hell were they thinking? Hey, let’s take everything that makes this show good and just chuck it out the window! The scripts became silly while the characters all became cartoon cutouts of their former selves. And the stories were painful. Dan having an affair? Jackie being courted by a prince? Bev suddenly being gay? Steven Segal….WTF??? And worst that realism which was a trademark of the series was gone.
So what about the final episode? In my opinion this finale…is a bit better than people remember. Yeah, I said it. I don’t think it’s quite as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Does that mean it’s good? Well, no it isn’t. First of all to be fair to the episode since the script isn’t being wild and crazy this at least feels like a normal episode, more so than most from Season 9. It is a quiet story as Darlene and her baby comes home and the family comes together, and really it isn’t bad. All the characters get closure and it even has some nice callbacks to the early days including the pilot. Though there is also a lot of filler this episode feels like it is wrapping things up and was pretty decent until…..that last ten minutes!
So let’s get into it. It turns out that the season was a story Roseanne had written. Or…was it the series? Or half the series? Right away we reach one problem since this is not made clear. But what is it that makes this last scene so hated? I mean, when you think about it, doesn’t it make sense? That last season was so over the top and silly that it makes perfect sense this was just some story. The problem is that the rest of the series was played straight, so it doesn’t connect. If the book Roseanne was writing was just Season 9, and the real show ended with Dan’s heart attack at the end of season 8, I could totally buy that. After Dan’s heart atatck she wrote that story to cope..fine. In fact that makes perfect sense! I would be saying how brilliant it was! But if her book was the whole series….that makes things confusing.
I think the problem comes when Roseanne talks about what her family is really like, that the characters we have seen over the last nine years are really just creations of Roseanne’s writing. That was a big mistake in my opinion. We spent nine years following these characters and learning to love and care for them. And what do we find out? Everything we learned about them was made up and inaccurate. That is a bit hard to take. It raises so many questions. If she was changing what she didn’t like why did they have soÂ many setbacks and hard times? Why was her father a cheating, abusive jerk? If she pictured her sister with men why did Jackie have so much trouble keeping a boyfriend? If Darlene went out with Mark, does that mean Roseanne and Dan approved? And why write Mark has such a stupid clod that they hated early on? Was she wishing he was more like that, was Mark really a smart guy? Who or what was Crystal based on? Was Dan’s mother really nuts? We know Darlene had the baby but did she finished college? WHEN did Dan have his heart attack? I could be here all day.
It’s always a gamble for a show to do something like this. Imagine if in the final episode of St. Elsewhere it turned out to all be in the head of an autistic kid……oh yeah, they actually did that didn’t they? And fans hated that because it felt like a betrayal of the show they had loved. And it was in many ways. Why did Newhart get away with the dream ending? Probably because The Bob Newhart Show was a beloved show so people were willing to overlook that one. Here, it feels like a desperate attempt to make sense out of the nonsense. The monologue Roseanne gives is very insighful and there is a lot of good stuff in there. One wishes they had shown the struggles she described rather than the absurd fantasty. In the end this just doesn’t feel like the conclusion this series deserved, Roseanne sitting all alone on her couch.
So, what else can I say? I did love the touch at the end when the monologue is done. Roseanne walks upstairs, and we find the living room has been restored to the condition we were familiar with for the majority of the series. Very nice touch enhancing the “story” angle. I think the idea was there, it really was, it just wasn’t done very well. Rather than being a very strong final episode it comes off as forced and even insulting to the fans who had loved the show for so long. Thankfully I was not one of them, and so I find the episode more of a curiosity than anything. Love it or hate it at least “How I Met Your Mother” knew full well how the show was going to end so it was able to direct the story where they wanted it to go for nine years leaving hints and clues along the way. This was not the case here, and maybe that is why this ending just doesn’t work. Taken all by itself it is actually powerful and well done. But as the wrap up to the series as a whole it doesn’t add up with what we have seen all this time and therefore fails.
Grade-C-, Nice try guys but FAIL