Series finale month concludes my friends!

Sometimes a series is really running on fumes when it gets to the final episode. But despite that they manage to pull out a fantastic finale. What do MASH, Mad About You, ST-TNG, and Murphy Brown have in common? Their last season was not very good, but they managed to go out with a very strong final episode (most notably MASH of course which set records that still stand to this day). Will & Grace, on the other hand, had an awful last season capped with a terrible final episode! I thought that I would conclude series finale month by looking at that terrible final episode.

But…..On second thought. Why do this to myself?

Originally I really was going to discuss the god awful Will & Grace finale, but two things made me change my mind. One, I couldn’t find a copy of the episode to watch. Two, I did find a copy of an episode of another show which I love to talk about and really wanted to review. So rather than discussing a painful episode, let’s go back to one of the best show’s from the 80’s:

“Alex Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”

This episode aired on May 14, 1989. How did the family who epitomized the 80’s say goodbye?

Plot Summary:Alex gets a job in New York, and everyone is excited for him. Except Elyse who experiences major empty nest syndrome. Meanwhile, Andy appears in a school play.

Best Line: Alex: “So now that I’ve given you all this knowledge, what do you plan on doing with it?”
Jennifer: “I was thinking of going to law school. Maybe becoming an anti-trust attorney. And possibly putting you in jail in a few years”
Alex: “Keep dreamin’.”

Standout Character-Elyse, you really feel for what she is feeling in this one

Nitpick of the Episode:I understand why Elyse is upset, but why isn’t anyone else more upset that Alex is leaving? Even though she was a tad out of line I kind of agree with Elyse, Alex could have been more understanding about spending the night with his family. He’s a better person than that.

Syndication Edit:Not sure but I noticed the top of the final scene and an entire scene between Steven and Elyse discussing Alex on the DVD that was not on the Netflix copy. Also missing from Netlix which was the final cast bows at the end of the episode and a special end credits. So I guess what I’m saying is, get the DVD don’t watch on Netflix! By the way Michael J. Fox is the most emotional, gotta love that!

Episode Fun Fact:At the time Michael Gross was quoted as saying he wanted to see the final episode end with a plane crash killing the whole family, that way there’d be no reunion. Yeah he was a bit of a jerk back then fearing being typecast. Than a little film called Tremors came along. Who knows Michael Gross less as Steven Keaton and more as Burt Gummer?

Final Thoughts-Yeah that felt so much better. Will & Grace had a final episode which was a betrayal of everything the series stood for. I mean, Will and Grace stop being friends for years?? WTF?? And I could be here all day talking about idiocy with Jack and Karen.

Family Ties had a much better ending. It feels like a regular episode of the series and all the characters are in character. Most of the first half is the family helping Alex pack.  Everyone get great last scenes, except maybe for Steven. The show loved making him goofy and even dumb at times, this episode no exception though it’s underplayed. I love the scene where Alex talks to Jennifer who shows she is just as smart if not smarter than Alex. She really grew up on the show and it was nice for the script to remember that. Mallory becomes more than a punchline as we see she really does understand fashion. Even Skippy, Nick, and Lauren get nice goodbye moments.

There is a scene at Andy’s play which gets surreal when Elyse imagines Alex in the costume saying goodbye. A nice glimpse into what she is feeling. Meredith Baxter Birney and Michael J. Fox have a powerful chemistry, why didn’t we see more of it over the years? There scenes together are so amazing!  It really feels like two pro actors, which of course they are. Naturally, it wouldn’t be a Family Ties episode without a heart to heart between two characters in the kitchen. To be fair, they don’t set it in the kitchen. The whole discussion where Elyse discusses how she is feeling and being happy to be Alex Keaton’s mother, while Alex reveals how scared he really is, is just fantastic.

The final scene is in fact in the kitchen, and it’s one of my favorite final scenes anywhere. Alex tries to be mature and not give in to emotion. I love it when Mallory gives Alex a scarf and shows she has some smarts. But in the end Alex comes back and gives the family one last big hug. Beautiful moment. I read one critic who bashed this episode because of the incessant amount of hugs. I’m guessing that critic never really watched the series before saying that, because it seems perfectly normal to me.

I think of the four shows I reviewed this month this one may be the superior. It wasn’t overhyped like Cheers, they didn’t throw a curve in at the end like Roseanne, and there was no need to fill the last ten minutes with a flashback like The Cosby Show. This episode just works, and is right up there with other final episodes that didn’t end with a lot of fanfare, just a regular episode that ended with a hug and then goodnight. Mary Tyler Moore, Everybody Loves Raymond, Who’s The Boss?, Full House, Fresh Prince, Coach, & Home Improvement are all examples of series that did this type of final episode. But I think Family Ties did it best

Grade-B+
Hey, I just realized I covered all of the NBC Thursday lineup from the 80’s except Night Court. How did that series end? BADLY!!!!!

Hope you guys liked series finale month. I swear I didn’t intend this to be an NBC themed month.  There isn’t much from CBS, except Murphy Brown and The Nanny. The Nanny had an awful finale that I never really saw. I also didn’t do a Star Trek episode……you know what, I think I will do something about that before the month ends.

By richb

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