The end of May means the end of the regular TV season, which means it's time to take stock of some season finales.
First up is my formerly beloved "24," which sadly was an utter and complete mess this season. Sure, "24" was never meant to be serious, not when Jack Bauer was able to get anywhere in L.A. in 10 minutes, or when Chloe O'Brian could always position some Caltrans camera to catch sight of the terrorist's car, whose license plate could then be magically magnified to produce a crisp readout. Or how "hard perimeter" really meant "porous." Those illogicalities are part of the charm of the show.
What happened this last season, though, was so jaw-droppingly bad in terms of writing that the normal adrenaline rush of the show wasn't enough to overcome the obvious flaws. Just to take one example, the tacked on plot-line of the Russian microchip that CTU had to destroy/recover or risk war with Russa ended with the Vice President giving the Russians real-time satellite imagery of the oil derrick where Jack Bauer's father (!) was holed up with the chip. The plan was to take out the derrick with air strikes to be certain of destruction. The only problem was that Jack's nephew was a hostage on the derrick. So Jack and Bill Buchanan hijacked a CTU helicopter and stormed the derrick. Successfully. Seconds before the derrick is actually destroyed. Does the CTU helicopter have some kind of stealth technology that makes it invisible to the satellites?!? Do I need to mention that CTU has satellites that can pick up thermal signatures precisely enough to identify the number of people on the derrick?!? Were the Russians so clueness as not to notice that a helicopter left moments before the missiles hit and that the microchip could have been carried away on that helicopter?
Bah, about the only good thing I can say about season 6 is that Kim Bauer did not make an appearance. . . .
Next up is "Lost," which I thought got a bit tangled up in the second season and slow and ponderous in the middle of the third season. But I'll say this: the finale, with the flash-forward, was quite clever! Also a pretty bloody episode, though most of the bloodshed was on the side of the Others. Put me in the group that accepts that Charlie drowned. At first, I thought it was stupid that he didn't just run out of the room and close the door from the other side to stop the flood of water, but on reflection, I guess he did end up believing Desmond's prophecy and accepted the need to die.
Finally, there's a former favorite of mine, "Veronica Mars," which was not renewed. Now, I have the season/series finale on my TiVo, but I haven't watched it and I'm not sure I will. I actually haven't watched any of the third season episodes (when she's in college), because I heard it lost its way. But I do have a VM-related item to blog about, which is Neptune Noir: Unauthorized Investigations Into Veronica Mars. (I should disclose that the publisher sent me a review copy of this book.) It's true: TV makes you smarter! This book is full of essays about various aspects of "Veronica Mars," and even better, covering only the first two seasons, so if you skipped season 3 like I did, you can still read the book. It's not an episode guide or a behind-the-scenes sneak peak; instead, the essays look critically at the show as a literary medium. There were a number of essays on the relationship between Veronica and her dad, but the standout essays to me were:
- Dissecting the season 1 finale to show how it comported with the traditional screenwriting format of four acts
- Analyzing how the cars that characters drove fit their personalities
- Wondering why "Veronica Mars" was so popular in red states