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April 21 2006

"Buffy" and "Angel" ranked high as dramas that went out with dignity among TV Guide columnist Matt Roush's readers.

I hate it when people diss ER for being on so long. Maybe its because I only picked it up in season 9, but its still great to me.
I'm not a fan of hospital drama (too mundane and depressing for my tastes) so ER had outstayed it's welcome for me after episode one, I'm afraid.

Couldn't agree more about Buffy and Angel though, as well as TNG. I'd personally add Deep Space 9 to that list, as I thought that show was pure brilliance from start to finish. In a strange way I'd also include Farscape, although technically it ended a season too soon. Thanks to the mini-series, however, it still went out on a high.
It's not really that ER's been on so long it's just that it feels like a slightly pale imitation of its former self Resolute. I watched it pretty much without fail for the first 9-10 years and the early cast chemistry and intensity of story and character development was really something to see. Gradually, as cast members left, my interest waned (the first character I really missed was Benton) and now that Carter's gone it just doesn't feel like the same show. I saw the first 3 of the current season then stopped watching and the only thing I miss is the feeling of not wanting to miss it.

I agree about Buffy but though I think Angel went out on a high, it didn't bow out, it was chopped down. TNG ended when it should have and very, very well, DS9 ended well apart from some elements of the very last episode and, clearly, Voyager should have ended about 5 episodes in ;).
I think the second half of this season of ER has been much better. The relationship between Abby and Kovac and the developing storyline with Neela, Gallant and Ray has kept me tuning in. It may not be in its glory days, but its still pretty good television.
Saje, I think Voyager deserved to run for the seven seasons it was on due to the character of the Doctor alone.

Maybe they should have called the show Star Trek: The Doctor (oh, and some other people are on the ship too).
I would have liked to have seen BTVS and ATS continue for years to come. My problem is that I can't find anything on TV to compare to them.
I agree w/The Immortal regarding ER. I had better hopes for Chicago Hope because I think Mandy Patinkin is a living legend, but even he couldn't save the hospital drama genre. Just too repetitive and maudlin for my tastes. Hospital dramas spend a lot of time tugging at my heart strings and being openly manipulative. Just not my idea of a good time.

Criminal Minds though? Mandy is in the zone, man! Awesome work he's doing right now. Go Mandy!

One can argue that Star Trek Deep Space Nine, for all it's inconsistencies and floundering at points, is the trek franchise series that most got it right. Admittedly, it lost my interest just before Worf joined its ranks, and that wasn't enough to keep my interest, but DS9 didn't cater to Roddenberry's noble but shortsighted vision of space utopia, and DS9 didn't wallow in self-doubt and pessimism about humanity's future. It depicted the lives of ordinary human beings in extraordinary living conditions, and showed how deep down anyone can find that which makes them extraordinary. DS9 just got it the most right.

Angel went out on a high. I'm still impressed with its last few minutes and its final frames. The whole "let's get to work" attitude of it. That perhaps we were seeing their end and perhaps not but regardless the show and the principal characters were going out as they came in and that was simply spectacular. Brandishing swords and facing the seeming impossible enemy with a brooding brow and a smirk on the lips. Whedon does know how to put down his beasts, that's a given.

The entire seven season arc of Buffy was about Buffy facing this impossible beast of her own. How to come to terms with the fact that she had inside her a greater monster than anything any lurking behemoth in the shadows could throw at her. She can't just be Buffy anymore. She had a responsibility, a weight that just wasn't something she wanted. Though unlike other slayers before her she didn't give in to the lonliness of it, and insisted on staying close to her loyal 'scoobies', she still felt alone, until that last moment in that last episode when it finally dawned (sic) on her that she wasn't alone. Not only did she have Xander and Willow and Giles who'd been with her from start to finish, but she had all these other people who would help her share the burden, and all these new slayers who felt the same weight she did but together the burden would be lessened. That look on her face at the very end as they were looking at the crater was priceless. Instead of having her just ride off into the sunset, Whedon showed us that after all this time, after dying THREE times and still not finding it, Buffy was finally at peace.

Give him a chance, Whedon knows how to put down a show. I still don't feel like I've seen that with Firefly. The motion picture shows promise that there's more to tell. But then, so did Angel and Buffy. I guess the real secret to Whedon's success is the same rule of thumb that all great magicians use: always leave them wanting more.
I really don't think that we'll ever gonna find something to compare Joss' series, spikeylover.

I completely agree about Buffy, but Angel and its characters didn't finish their journey, not the way it should anyway, but indeed went out on a high, excelent show finale.
ST:TNG did something most shows never do. It went out on a high note BUT way before it's time. It went out before it had the slump that said a show's ideas and actors were tired.

None of the Star Trek's after compared. DS9 was good, until they killed Dax. But Hey , get ready for more Star Trek.... Movie 11 is on it's way!

Angel's last season was intresting and the fact we know he survived, is the only reason it went out high for me. Otherwise it was suicide mission. Something that did not make sense with the show's mission statement of the fight never ending. There were parts of 5, I deeply liked but the rush and the holes in the story were very unsatisfying. Buffy, I wish, though I always want to see more, they had ended her in season 5. Season 7 was very uneven and in many ways forgot the characters and reasons people loved Buffy and her scoobies.
ST:TNG did the odd thing... it had its slump in the first two seasons of its run. Season 1 the creators were experimenting to see if TNG should be an exact copy of the original series or if it should have its own identity. Then, just as they were figuring out how to redefine the Star Trek mythos for a new generation of viewers, a TV writers strike broke out during season 2. That season was mostly written by scabs.

ST:TNG truly hit its stride in season 3 when the character's uniform collars got higher and Ryker mastered his beard.

ST:TNG was my all-time favorite show until I entered the Whedonverse.
I did not care for season 6-7 of Buffy as much as seasons 1-5.I just thought they were overall weaker although even weaker Buffy is better then a lot of other stuff on T.V.I did think,"Chosen" was a good wrap up to the series and was very satisfyed with the way the show ended.Angel though I felt the exact opposite.As a season finale I think,"Not Fade Away" would of been great but as a series finale,I was just so disappointed in it.I was not satisfied at all or the two episodes proceeding it.I understand that they had a more limited time to to end the series given the cancellation vs. Buffy which ended under its own power but that still doesn't stop my disappointment over the way the show ended.This has also sort of tainted my enjoyment of season 5 as a whole even though there are many episodes I love in this season.And yes,I do consider the ending a cliffhanger even though Joss and the writers don't see it that way.I consider season 2 and 4 as the best seasons of Angel.

ST:TNG did the odd thing... it had its slump in the first two seasons of its run. Season 1 the creators were experimenting to see if TNG should be an exact copy of the original series or if it should have its own identity. Then, just as they were figuring out how to redefine the Star Trek mythos for a new generation of viewers, a TV writers strike broke out during season 2. That season was mostly written by scabs.

ST:TNG truly hit its stride in season 3 when the character's uniform collars got higher and Ryker mastered his beard.

ST:TNG was my all-time favorite show until I entered the Whedonverse.
Hjermsted | April 21, 20:49 CET

ST:TNG really got going in season 3-4.I never really got into DS9,Voyager or Enterprise.I did like the Star Trek Movies including TNG ones.My favorite of those being First Contact.It's off topic but did you hear the news Variety broke today?J.J. Abrams is co-writing,producing and directing Star Trek 11.It will focus on a young Kirk and Spock at Star fleet Academy.
I missed Tasha Yar.

I think Troi/Riker was my first Ship.... sigh.

I agree the first two seasons were not great. But when a show can give you the Borg and Best of Both Worlds, you know there is something special.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the only long-running television drama I have seen that I felt had a cohesive, complete story from start to finish. ZachsMind summed it up better than I could, but the way she gradually moves from a superficial acceptance of her responsibility, to a more complete acceptance which nearly crushes her emotionally before she finally allows herself to share it, is possibly the most complete emotional arc on television. Add to that all the supporting character arcs, most of which are somewhat complete unto themselves, and you have something wonderful and unique.

Obviously from my above comments, I don't feel that Angel was as complete a story, but that's for two reasons, the first being that Angel (both the show and the character) was less about forward growth and more about self-reinvention, which made for a bloody entertaining and insightful ride, but one that is ultimately less cohesive by design. Joss even admitted as much: Buffy had a journey, Angel is immortal: there is no end for him, except death or humanity, and no clear path. (In other words, he's one of us.) That said, I think that a season six would have been a more natural conclusion to the show than season five--which was terrific--was.

By contrast, I should point out that, as episodes unto themselves, I like "Chosen" and love "Not Fade Away." ("Chosen" is good, but not really Joss' best--dialogue feels unforced, but the plot is too simplistic given the season-long buildup to it. "Not Fade Away" has a greater urgency, and gives the characters more to do.)

Firefly is a series that I really wish had been given a chance to develop, because--honestly--its fifteen episodes are so much more consistent than Buffy and Angel's first season. I think the Sereniflyverse is Joss' best work, on the balance, because of the sheer amount he managed to accomplish in creating a world and characters to inhabit it in such a short period of time. But no series. We just have to hope for Serenity sequels.

TNG had a great finale but a weak last season. There were a few good episodes, and the characters were still there, but the creativity in the stories was dwindling, which is perilous for any show, especially one that is as story-oriented as TNG. DS9 was...sort of the opposite. I think, on the whole, Deep Space Nine was the most human of the Star Trek series, and probably consequently the best, but it also had its severe ups and downs. The Sisko/Dukat fight was far too simplistic as either the be the resolution to the entire Bajor/Prophets mythology or even the complex interrelationship between those two characters, for example, but that's all we got. And let's just not talk about Voyager, which I saw all of, and Enterprise, which I gave up on in season two. (I heard it got somewhat better. But I officially don't care.)

As far as comedy shows, I never stopped loving M*A*S*H, odd as it was for the show to be three times as long as the war it was describing; I've always been of the opinion that the show was strengthened by the cast changes rather than weakened, as many have suggested. That said, it did lose a bit of its edge during its last few years. I absolutely love the finale, though--it's objectively convoluted and overblown, but I love the characters far too much not to enjoy every minute of it. Mary Tyler Moore is the classic example of a show that quit on the top of its game; its final season had episodes like the Mary/Lou date, which could have been a disaster for the series as well for the characters, but was pulled off with sensitivity and grace.

Also, I'd add deliberately short-lived British shows like The Prisoner and Fawlty Towers to the list of shows that went out on top, though I'm not sure they are in quite the same campt as the others.
I did not care for season 6-7 of Buffy as much as seasons 1-5.I just thought they were overall weaker although even weaker Buffy is better then a lot of other stuff on T.V.I did think,"Chosen" was a good wrap up to the series and was very satisfyed with the way the show ended.

I agree and disagree with that--I loved season six, but season seven was, I felt, poorly executed for what was essentially a good idea: Buffy shares her power, lessening her burden and letting her out into the sunlight, whilst her friends all step out of the darkness that was season six. There were very good episodes that stuck to this basic idea, but I never felt they had an actual plan for the First fitting into that. The only episode in which the use of the First as a villain really, really worked was "CWDP," which is still probably the best of the season. "Chosen" disappointed me when I saw it because before then I had still been holding onto hope that there was more to the First's plans than...well, nothing...and so the episode, while good generally, had to deal with the season's problems.

With regards to TNG, the first season was pretty horrid and the second season was generally weak but with some very bright spots. (Any season that brings us "The Measure of a Man" and the Borg and the Moriarty hologram can't be all bad.) It hit its stride in season three, and it maintained a more or less high quality to the series end. What's really strange to think about is that so many shows these days aren't even allowed a dozen episodes to find themselves, and it took TNG two years before becoming one of the great sci-fi shows. Had the show (also my favourite, or at least close to it, before I became a Whedonverse addict) been canceled during its first season, I wouldn't have batted an eye, especially compared to the number of shows cancelled in their first or second season while already strong.
It was in syndication. It's whole run. It ran on Saturday nights and was the top rated show. That is why Xena and Hercules did so well too.

Then Star Trek went to Fox and had to get the normal ratings for that kind of net.

Both Buffy and Angel could still be on tv now if they had gone to syndication. Tru Calling, Firefly and Wonderfalls as well.
Buffy and Angel never lost their dignity, never jumped the shark. That said, I've always felt that, for Buffy, the most satisfying conclusion came when she hurled herself off the tower at the close of S5. It completed the character arc that started in Prophecy Girl, with the justly celebrated "I don't want to die" speech. By the final moments of The Gift, Buffy is plunging to her death willingly, without hesitation. THAT's growth. Even though I'm forever grateful for the good and great eps in S6 and 7--especially OMWF, which is the best thing Joss has ever done--those seasons felt more like dessert after the feast of the first five seasons.
I think the Sereniflyverse is Joss' best work, on the balance, because of the sheer amount he managed to accomplish in creating a world and characters to inhabit it in such a short period of time.


As far as I am concerned, the maths add up this way: I had to wait well into season 3 of buffy to become hooked. For angel, I became a fan by the end of season 1 / the beginning of season 2. Firefly had me by the 15th minute.

Once you've been in Serenity, you never leave...
Buffy had me by the fifth minute. Or maybe it even took less time than that: the moment Darla turned from sweet little "scared" girl in her schoolgirl's outfit to a biting monster (in her schoolgirl's outfit) in the darkened Sunnydale Hight hallway, I was sold. I was hooked, lined and sinkered. I recently introduced my SO to BtVS and he loved it instantly as well, and god love him, embraced the brilliance of BtVS S1 right away. (The show was brilliant from moment one. I don't give a damn that it was less glossy and had a smaller budget. The humor, the oddness, the genius was there.) Firefly had me by the fifth minute as well. Loving Angel (the show) was a different experience for me, because I already knew the Angel character, and Cordy, too. AtS started out as a clever, dark offshoot of the Buffyverse for me and I thus instantly loved it. I needed no convincing. Of course, AtS became very much its own show and I loved it all the more for that.

Nope, I cannot and will not elevate any of the shows above the others. They all mean too much to me. I agree that Buffy and Angel both went out on a high, and both with the greatest of dignity. Buffy's little dawning Mona Lisa smile was one of the most gratifying visual moments I've ever experienced, seven years' coming and a glorious crowning touch on the character's bildungsromany arc. I thought that was the be all and end all of season finales and then I saw "Not Fade Away." "Not Fade Away" was a thing of bitter yet gorgeous lump-in-the-throat beauty. I loved it more than I can say.

But of course AtS didn't go out willingly. And Firefly? Let us not speak of Firefly and shows going out, with or without dignity. The destruction of Firefly by Fox is too awful to re-contemplate.
Ok, just a short comment as this thread is getting long:

Agree totally re Buffy and Angel. While BtVS 7 is not my favorite, it does tie up the series quite nicely. And Angel 5 -- the cancellation was a horrible mistake, but the writers did a great job of redeeming that.

OT, but since it's on the thread? ER jumped the shark first when Mark and Corday got together, and then the long drawn out death of Mark. JMHO.

Firefly? I echo phlebontin. Let us not speak of painful things.
What phlebotinin said. Exactly.
I haven't seen the final seasons of AtS or TNG, and I haven't seen any of DS9; so I can't comment there. And while there were moments in Buffy S7 that I liked, I'm not sure I appreciated the final season, as a whole. It's definitely not as close to my heart as S3.
Buffy and Angel both had brilliant cappers; though, of course, seeing how the latter was cancelled and not taken off the air as a creative decision, not all of its storylines wrapped up in a satisfying manner.

I love Buffy S7, damn it! For me, it's probably the very best season after S2. It's so very misunderstood; as I said on my Netflix review (ooh, look, it's in the top three most helpful!), the change in pace and style is necessary for the kind of situation in which the characters must evolve. And "Chosen" was an ingenious closer. I was crying, I was laughing, I was on the edge of my seat...and the final shot, just as Buffy's about to answer Dawn's question, and then, boom, credits...brilliant.

That said, Angel's closer, "Not Fade Away," is the greatest series finale of all time. It's so damned perfect, and fits with the series' "never stop fighting" themes and mentality completely. Spike's poetry at the bar...Angel tackling Wolfram & Hart after a year of becoming one with it...Illyria's devastating emotional moment...Wesley going out...oh God, I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. That very last doesn't get any better than that, my friends

Even though it wasn't meant as a series capper, Firefly's "Objects in Space" is still one of the greatest hours of television out there. And if we're to count Serenity, then of course, absolute greatness. It's truly amazing how much Joss managed to accomplish with just 15 episodes and a motion picture. That kind of creativity and intuitive knack for world-building does not come along often, and that's why I treasure him so.

I'm constantly trying to figure out which series I like better, Buffy or Firefly! I should flip a coin or something.
Hey, unpluggedCrazy! So you loved BtVS 7? Hmmmm. That's not the subject of this post, so I'll just applaud your courage. And yes! Re Objects in Space.
1starbucktown, I totally agree that "The Gift" was the best (and to me, the real) ending to the story. I see BtVS having two excellent potential "stopping points": The end of Season 3 ("We survived." "It was a hell of a battle." "No, not the battle. High school."), and "The Gift." To me, Seasons 6 and 7 are the relatively mediocre sequels to BtVS. Those seasons did have good things in them, but the fact that I was relatively unmoved by "Chosen" is a pretty good indication of how far the show had lost me by that point. (Although I did love Buffy's final uptick of a smile in the show's last seconds).

In that sense, even though the WB's premature execution of AtS was annoying, I do think that going out with an episode like "Not Fade Away" almost makes up for it in my view. As the end, the capper, and the epigram for the show, "NFA" succeeded better than most series finales I can think of. Just, wow.
Yes, it could have gone another season, but Angel ended wonderfully.

But Buffy... ouch. Chosen is a very nice finale, in and of itself, with a lot of callbacks to why we loved the show. But I really dislike season seven (season six has a lot of problems too, but at least works a bit better as an overall story). There are many, many reasons I dislike season seven, but the one I'll always harp on the most is this: If you're going to tease that The First has a plan for Spike all season, it might be nice to tell us what that plan is before the entire series ends. Or have that plan in any way figure into the final episode. And no, The First going, "look at Buffy kissing Angel!" doesn't cut it. Though that would have been funny... "Look, they're kissing! Doesn't that make you want to help me DESTROY THE WORLD?"

Cranston: I very much agree on all your points, including how Not Fade Away did such a great job of ending Angel and how Buffy had two much better "final" episodes and storylines then the one we got in season seven. I'd even argue that season TWO has a great ending for the series, were it to have ended then... albiet a very depressing one. But still a dramtically satisfying ending. I enjoyed Chosen, but the show had been fundamentally dramatically weakened for quite awhile before then.
I agree with the guy who says Felicity ended on a high. Four years of college in NY, four seasons, and it worked out perfectly in terms of enough time spent with the characters and not overstaying their welcome. Impressive cast. It had its flaws in a few spots (most noteably some of Season 3 and the overdose of Javier in Season 4, IMO), but overall it was solid and had a flat-out awesome twist arc for the final few episodes. Unlike that guy in the TV Guide article, I loved the magic/time travel episodes. It wasn't a break in format either, from the straight-up non-genre drama format, 'cause they'd hinted at magic in the Felicity-verse before with Megan's dabbling...and I vaguely remember some bizarro black & white episode, though I think that might've been the one episode that wasn't canon. Lotta love for that series. I've only seen the first half of Alias Season 1 (but all of Lost), so I can only go with what I know so far, but I think Felicity's the best thing he's done.

Six Feet Under gets my top vote for the whole "ended exactly when it should've/top of its game" and all that. Also arguably the most consistently strong throughout drama I've ever seen (five seasons, with me only have an issue or two with some stuff in Season 4).

Matt Roush didn't intend for cancellations to be included, he meant for shows that more or less naturally reached their conclusion. So though I'd also like to mention stuff like Firefly, American Gothic, and Freaks & Geeks, they don't count for this subject. Angel arguably doesn't either.
If you're going to tease that The First has a plan for Spike all season, it might be nice to tell us what that plan is before the entire series ends. Or have that plan in any way figure into the final episode.

I've always assumed the First's plan for Spike was the same for all of Buffy's friends: to mess with his head, to turn him against her, leaving Buffy virtually alone in the "final showcase showdown". That's why, for example, the First kept insisting Buffy wouldn't come and save him, even though Spike knew she would. (And why Joyce visited Dawn, and told her Buffy would turn against her; and why "Ghost Cassie" visited Willow, and told her to stop using magic...and to kill herself.) Throughout the previous six seasons, Buffy's greatest asset always lay with her friends, so the First believed the surest way to defeat Buffy and become corporeal again was to strip away her "army".

As I have intimated before, however, I don't believe I appreciated S7 as much as I should have. The season's overall message was lost on me, I think, and either the conclusions I arrived at are totally, and hideously, false; or...I don't know what.
I'm not sure if there is such a thing as the perfect ending to Buffy and Angel because I never wanted them to end. Even now, years later, I find myself waiting with excitement for the news that Joss is bringing SMG and DB back for another battle. In a time of Silver screen super hero's....where's Buffy and Angel?
I agree 100 percent, cheryl! As good as NFA and Chosen were as finales, they didn't feel like "THE END" to me. Instead they left me wanting more. I wanted to know who made it out of that damn alley and what the Scoobies would move on to next. To me, that's what makes a series great: The characters live on in our minds long after the show is over.

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