Season Finale Report Card, Part 1

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
With the networks all yelling
And everyone praying “Hope to see you next year!”
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
It’s the sad -saddest season of all…
With those end of year meetings and depressing greetings
When cancellation comes to call
It’s the sad – saddest season of all…

There’ll be  execs for roasting,
Unresolved plot lines for toasting,
And angry tears by moon’s glow.
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Beloved shows lost long ago!

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

That’s right, folks!  Amidst the veritable bloodbath that is May sweeps, with networks axing approximately nine-tenths of their current lineups (*), we’ve still got to dust ourselves off, put our pants on, and face the world.  Sure, we feel like curling up into the fetal position and never leaving our houses again because Community‘s been cancelled, but our ever-exploding DVRs are, as we know, cruel mistresses and do no halt recordings because we’re feeling all the feels.  I mean, we’re swimming the stormy seas of nonstop season finales, am I right?

(*) Disclaimer: This statistic is in no way based in scientific fact and is–in the interest of candor–completely made up.  But Community, noooooooooo!

Now that the first batch of shows have wrapped up for the season, I thought I’d do a quick report card, rate the shows for their final episodes only.  Will you indulge me?  Of course you will, you flirt!  Let’s get to it!


Archer, “Archer Vice: Arrival/Departure”

While the whole “Archer Vice” experiment this year met with some divisive reactions from fans, I settled firmly in the “I dig it” camp.  I mean, Archer had no real need to reinvent itself but chose to just for the sake of creativity.  You gotta admire that.  Fortunately for detractors, the season finale essentially assured us that this was a single season exercise, as the closing minutes of the episode find Mallory strong-arming the CIA into reestablishing ISIS.  Along the way, the reign of Cyril met its end point, Ray hit on Christian Slater’s animated counterpart and arms dealer Slater (“So, what’s your deal?”), Krieger might or might not be a cloned version of himself (obvi), Lana gives birth to a baby girl while firing a machine gun, and Archer learns he’s a dad.

Archer As with most Archer episodes, not every joke lands, but so many get fired at us, it would be impossible to keep up if they did; still, I enjoyed the finale thoroughly (um, do you see the picture above because duh it was funny).  I can’t wait to see where these plotlines take our characters next season.  Will Pam kick the coke habit?  (God, I hope not.)  Will Charlene continue her rise up the country music charts?  Only time will tell, and I’m anxious to see our favorite spies thrust back into the espionage danger zone next year.  Why aren’t we saying phrasing?!

Grade: B+


Community, “Basic Sandwich”

Clearly, you weren’t rubbing your nipples hard enough as Prof. Borchert encouraged because Community is over, cancelled just shy of fulfilling its #sixseasonsandamovie prophecy.  I don’t want to talk about it.

I reviewed the episode already, so follow the link here.

Grade: A-


Hawaii Five-O, “O ka Pili ‘Ohana ka ‘Oi”

This show is an absolute blast, and if you’re not watching it, you should be.  Look, it’s not the most original show around (it’s both a remake and a cop show, which is, I’ll grant you, sort of the double whammy of television recycling), but the game, up-for-anything cast, lead by Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett, Scott Caan as Danny Williams, Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly, Grace Park as Kono, make this show work.  More than a standard CBS case-of-the-week procedural, Five-O has weaved itself an impressive serialized narrative over the course of its run, and the handling of the story in this way has–in the past–resulted in some of the absolute best season finales on television.  Seriously.

Five-O‘s fourth season ender had its moments but failed to live up to the previous finales in its canon.  Nick Jonas’s cyber-terrorist Ian Wright reappears and kidnaps Grover’s (the amazing Chi McBride Chi McBriding all over the place) daughter as leverage to help steal $100 million.  The plot moves along at the show’s patented lightning-quick pace and leads to a happy ending: daughter rescued, Wright dead, and Grover offered a spot on the Five-O task force after getting the boot from HPD.

But, unlike in previous years, I’m not begging for more.  Sure, Wo Fat is out there now, having broken out of a Colorado Maximum Security Prison after making a toilet bomb with his nitroglycerin heart meds (sure…), but the episode just sort of lets the Wo Fat stuff fizzle out after he shoots Ian.  It’s disappointing since the season seemed to gear up for some more on this front with the revelation that Steve’s mom killed Wo Fat’s mom back in the day.  Oh well, at least we got to see Steve and Danny tooling around Honolulu in that minuscule pseudo-car.  Hilarity ensued.

O Ka Pilo 'Ohana Ka 'Oi (Family Comes First)

In the end, fun episode but a tepid finale.  ‘Til next year, Dano!

Grade: B-


The Mindy Project, “Danny and Mindy”

The show’s title is terrible and opening credit sequence equally bad, I’ll give you that, but the fact remains that Mindy Kaling’s hilarious show has quietly and confidently become one of television’s best comedies.   Peppered with clever homages to the romantic comedies with which the show’s heroine is obsessed (Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail get the most play), Kaling created a truly romantic half hour that can cause shippers to rejoice: Danny and Mindy are like totally a thing now!

I’m not going to spoil the journey to the finish, but by the time you see Mindy lying on the observation deck of the Empire State Building gasping for air, you’re guaranteed to have a smile spread across your face.  The tone for the finale felt damn near perfect, balancing outlandish comedy (attacking a foreign grad student on the subway, anyone?) with the kind of genuine, heartfelt emotion that grounds the show’s forays into hilarious absurdity.  It doesn’t hurt that Morgan, the on-staff male nurse and ex-con, is one of the funniest sitcom creations in quite awhile.

Take note, television comedies: this is how you craft a season ender.  I cannot wait for season three!

Grade: A


New Girl, “Cruise”

New Girl, New Girl, New Girl.  What’s gotten into you lately?  You used to hold the mantel of “appointment television,” but now it feels like a real chore just to get through your paltry twenty-three minutes.  Many critics lay this season’s myriad problems at the feet of the doomed Jess-Nick pairing, but I think that’s a simplistic answer to a very complicated question.

The finale served as a microcosm of this season’s central issue: a lack of focus.  I mean, this puppy’s been all over the place.  Schmidt moved out, Schmidt moved in, Winston’s showering with his cat, Cece’s dating an Australian dude, Nick has an inherent fear of bank accounts, Winston’s a cop, Coach is back.  Huh?  Slow down there, New Girl.  In trying to be all things to all fans, you ended up being nothing of consequence to anyone.

However, I will admit it took a brazen level of confidence to set this episode on a cruise ship, almost daring detractors to levy “jump the shark” declarations.  The driving force of the narrative, Nick and Jess engaging in a post-breakup couples cruise (with the gang in tow bc duh…forgive the nautical pun, Schmidt!) because they couldn’t get a refund, had its moments as the two endured crotch-rubbing yoga and champagne under the stars, but too much choked the narrative to mine genuine comedy out of anything: Schmidt’s continued timid courtship of Cece (seriously, this story is moving at a glacial pace…too soon?), Winston playing matchmaker, Coach’s WAY over-the-top fear of boats.  The only scene that sort of worked was when the gang found themselves trapped in the stateroom, forcing a cathartic truth-telling sesh.  But, again, that was what, two minutes?

New Girl

Fortunately, it seems like New Girl hit the reset button.  In the end-tag, Nick and Schmidt rekindle their roommate love, an indication that things might be reverting back to a semblance of normalcy in the loft, whatever that means.  All I know is that this finale–and season–was a mess but, what’s worse, it wasn’t even funny.  Better luck next year, New Girl.

Grade: D


Parenthood, “The Pontiac”

It’s been renewed for a sixth and final season!  Hurray, the Braverman clan will return for thirteen more episodes or, as I like to call them, thirteen more opportunities to rip my beating heart from its ribcage and stomp on it until I cry my eyes out.  In other words, I can’t wait!

Parenthood - Season 5

I already reviewed this episode, so check out the link here if you want a reminder or haven’t read it in the first place:

Grade: A-


Parks and Recreation, “Moving Up”

As if Parks and Recreation needed to cement its title as “Best Comedy on Television,” it went ahead and had The Decemberists (and the rest of the Unity Concert lineup) joining Andy Dwyer and Mouse Rat in a Li’l Sebastian tribute song.  That the Unity Concert proved an unbridled success did not, in and of itself, surprise, but that’s not to say there weren’t surprises galore in what I would call one of the show’s best episodes ever.

To wit:

Ron outed himself as Duke Silver at the Unity Concert to prove to himself (and Tammy) that he is now a changed man.  On the back of the influx of celebrities in Pawnee for the concert, Tom’s Bistro takes off (even if Donna had to threaten her baby cousin Ginuwine into making an appearance), Dr.  Saperstein buries the hatchet with Tom and expresses interest in becoming an investor in the restaurant, Ben learns his accountant friends applied for a copyright to Cones of Dunshire in his name, Jean-Ralphio continues to be magical (“The only reason I wouldn’t be there is if I get pulled over… for violating my house arrest!”), and Leslie proves she can have it all, accepting the federal parks gig while also remaining in Pawnee thanks to a swift, metaphorical kick in the rump by Michelle Obama.

Sort of sounds like a series finale, doesn’t it?  As the episode unfolded, you couldn’t help but notice that it continued to go out of its way to close out long-running plot lines and provide tangible resolution.  But all of that was in service of the final twist: a time jump three years in the future.

That’s right, Leslie’s rocking bangs, Andy’s broken his arm, Ben’s abuzz with importance, Terry (aka Jerry) is still the worst, and then the triplets walk in!  MIND EXPLOSION!  Or, as Ben would say while watching Letters of Cleo from backstage:

Parks and Recreation

I absolutely loved this finale and the brilliant decision to implement such a gutsy time jump leaves me salivating for next season (even though NBC has not, as of this writing, put it on its schedule). Also, I very much hope Jean-Ralphio and Craig are best friends in this near future because this cute-meet happened:

Jean Ralphio: “I like your energy, hombre.  What do you say you and I ride go karts later?”


Hands down, this was my favorite season finale I’ve seen so far!

Grade: A+


Part two coming soon, so please check back in next week to see how some other favorite shows wrap up their seasons!

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