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May 11 2010

TV Series Finales: How to Do Them Right. The Buffy and Angel finales are both mentioned in this list from TWoP.

I disagree with their thoughts on the Angel finale - I thought it was amazing, and fit the tone and message of the show pretty much perfectly. Even if it did rip my heart out a little bit.
There was nothing "wrong" about the Angel finale. It was brilliant and remains my favorite Buffyverse episode to this day. I agree with the rest of their comments though, about the other shows.
I also think the Angel finale was brilliant and a perfect series-ender for the gang. It fit perfectly with the tone and theme of the show: you keep fighting no matter what - even in the face of death.

It's my love for this episode and the way the series ended that gives me mixed thought about ATF. ATF was amazing - one of my favorite comics ever - but I'm just not sure it was necessary. Angel's story was done. Over. And they changed everything. I'm not sure how I feel about that. The same can be said for

[ edited by SoddingNancyTribe on 2010-05-13 00:10 ]
I think the Angel finale is better categorized as one of their "do"s, namely, "Do Have Everyone Just Keep on Moving." Just as there were always more patients for ER docs and more systemic urban failures on the Wire, so were there always more demons to fight for Angel and his crew.
I could not disagree more with their Angel analysis....

I haven't read ATF because I thought then, and still do, that Angel ended perfectly. I didn't see a cast of characters imperiled and ending on a cliff hanger, so much as characters doing what they always did, fighting impossible odds. Would they win or lose? It doesn't matter, as the whole point was to stand up.

Then again I'm a sucker for the ending of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as well....
I can't believe they didn't mention the Babylon 5 finale in the flash-forward thingie. That episode had no action whatsoever but was one of the biggest tearjerkers I have ever seen.
The Angel finale suited the show perfectly because the show was about the search for redemption, and that is a never-ending process.

[ edited by Giles'chainsawchick on 2010-05-11 19:59 ]
Angel's ending was perfect. Buffy's should not have been in the "Do" category. Unless it was "Do Make The Finale Incredibly Cheesy and Not Care Enough About the Characters". But enough about that.
I've also had enough with people moaning about the BSG finale. Specifically the last forty minutes. Everyone HATES them but it's some of the most gut-wrenching forty minutes in TV history. Without the end of the finale, I would have been SO disappointed with their lack of care for the characters. DON'T end the show with just a big battle and nothing else. Those last forty minutes of the BSG finale was needed to resolve each character's story...*sigh*
"Just ask any fan of Angel."

I'd say that just about any fan of Angel would say that whoever wrote this missed the entire point of both the episode and the show. Holy wow.
I'm probably one of the few here who was greatly disappointed in Not Fade Away.I thought it was a cliffhanger ending to the series.A great season finale but a terrible series finale.It's why I'm happy we got Angel:After The Fall.IMO,Angel:After The Fall is a much better and more satisfying ending to the series.

I don't even look at Not Fade Away as the end of ATS.I consider After The Fall as the true series finale.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2010-05-11 22:33 ]
It would have been more interesting in my mind if they'd simply kept to "genre" films. Yes, M*A*S*H was a great finale... but on what category (more narrowly defined than "television, shown in America") level does it belong with Buffy/Angel?

Yes, Babylon 5 was an excellent ending... but hampered by the fact that so much of the action was shoehorned into the last of S4, leaving S5 substantially less interesting than it should have been. Peter Jackson, despite all the maligning RotK got for it's bazillion endings, understood that the modern viewing audience is simply not up for as much "falling action" as Shakespeare or Tolkien dishes up in the original.

One series finale that I thought did a great job was Stargate Atlantis. Unlike so many other Sci-Fi shows that I can name where the finale is essentially absent (Farscape*, SG-1*, Firefly*, S:aaB), it actually brought everyone together to somewhere sensible, even if it took one giant narrative leap to get there. Come to think of it, a lot of the smart non-genre shows (Freaks & Geeks, Veronica Mars come to mind...) never really got a decent finale either.

* if it needs a follow-up miniseries, that's not a finale.
The end of Angel made me yell at the TV. "What?! That's it!? That's all we get??!!" LOL! And Six Feet Under was the best series finally EVER. I still just cry and cry during the last 10 minutes.
What is with all the Not Fade Away love? It sucked. It featured the character that fans watched eternally struggle to redeem himself for eight television seasons suddenly decide that none of that really matters. Within the span of those last two episodes, Angel apparently decided that redemption will come from one great act that will most likely kill him, something that goes against everything previously shown on A:tS.
benboy606, THANK YOU for standing up for the BSG finale. I feel like I'm one of the three people on earth who actually "got" it and wasn't completely mad at it. I really need to write a whole essay about the BSG finale.... But not now.

I liked the Buffy finale quite a bit, but it wasn't really one of my favorite episodes overall. I haven't made it all the way through Angel yet, so I can't wait for that!
I don't quite have that read Eric, I sort of did see ending right in the middle of events as an eternal struggle since if people don't follow the comics, that is the very last image of the show where Angel went in and came out fighting. Like the ER comparison people are drawing above or Sisyphus and what not. Plus I was under the impression as fades to black go, the Angel one was much more well received than The Sopranos one.

The Angel finale just makes me angry they were canceled but considering the circumstances they came up with something surprisingly poetic or poignant.
Reading this and thinking abut it is a reminder of how many great shows don't get a proper ending at all, usually because they've been cancelled prematurely.

Within the span of those last two episodes, Angel apparently decided that redemption will come from one great act that will most likely kill him, something that goes against everything previously shown on A:tS.

Wow, that's totally not how I read "Not Fade Away". To me he realised that redemption wasn't achievable AT ALL, that it's a process not a result but that the good fight is worth fighting despite that. The whole point (to me) was that he wasn't doing it for himself any longer (you could maybe even argue that that's when he was redeemed). One of my favourite moments of season 5 - probably the whole show - is when he sits down with the Circle, they ask him to sign away the Shan-shu (which is what he's been striving for for five years) and he just does it, without even blinking. That's maybe Angel's most heroic moment IMO. It's about the fight, not the prize.

Perfect ending for 'Angel' and one of, if not the, best series endings EVER.

As to the BSG ending, it wasn't that it "kept going and going" and so gave the writers a chance to resolve various character stories, it was the way (some of) those stories were resolved that i'm still not convinced about. That and the so-hamfisted-it-can't-be-what-Ron-Moore-meant* "Robosapien will kill us all/like whoa man, everything's cyclic" Sixth Form common room cod-philosophical end bit.

And i'd stopped watching ER years before but came back for the end and was glad it was quite well done (even if it was ALWAYS going to end with them carrying on saving lives since that was a motif from the very beginning). Was also pleased to see them bring back the old theme tune, that was a small but meaningful detail and when I saw that it felt like they were going to send the show off properly.

Under "Don't" i'd put "Don't totally change the tone of the series right at the last frame and therefore piss off your entire audience". Yes "Quantum Leap", i'm looking at you ;).


* when I get the time i'm going to re-watch from scratch and get the whole thing in my head at once because i'm sure/hoping that someone as clever and talented as he is didn't have that in mind. Or maybe I just spent more time talking bollocks in the Sixth Form common room than he did ;).
"Within the span of those last two episodes, Angel apparently decided that redemption will come from one great act that will most likely kill him, something that goes against everything previously shown on A:tS."

Um. Totally not what I got from it either. In fact, I think it says the very opposite of that.

I've never seen a better finale. Probably have never seen a better episode of television. Perfect, perfect hour.
"Within the span of those last two episodes, Angel apparently decided that redemption will come from one great act that will most likely kill him, something that goes against everything previously shown on A:tS."

Really? Because I remember Angel risking his existence more than once during those eight years....

I walked away from NFA with a completely different vibe. Angel would be closer to redemption than ever, precisely because I don't think his strike against the secret league of evil was motivated by a desire for redemption. He was standing up to them because it was the right thing to do, not because it furthered his selfish agenda.
I miss talking bollocks in the Sixth Form common room. Talking bollocks on Whedonesque (or online full-stop, for that matter) just isn't the same. Maybe because it's the default, whereas the SFCR was a refuge from the adult/college/relationship bollocks of the real world . . . Ahem. As you were.

*Loved* NFA (though as not-much-of-an-Angel-fan, I sometimes hesitate to say so, lest my opinion lend support to the view of those hardcore AtS fans who hated it because it wasn't a "fitting ending" to the show or whatever). Even though I love unresolved endings (oxymoron!) in general, I happen to think that NFA was brilliant from first to last minute, not just because of the final bit.
I like Not Fade Away if I think of it as a last stand where they all die heroically a few seconds after it cuts to black. That is a great way for the group to go out: going down swinging after dealing a huge blow to the forces of evil.

If I think of it as a cliffhanger ending that was continued a few years later in a comic book...well...not so much.
Maybe because it's the default, whereas the SFCR was a refuge from the adult/college/relationship bollocks of the real world...

And in the SFCR we thought our insights were, well, insightful (or at least vaguely original) whereas on here, particularly being able to look back, we know they're actually, y'know, bollocks ;).

S'true bout NFA too. The end is the first thing that springs to mind but when you think on it there's "effulgent." and Anne's words of wisdom and quiet, everyday bravery and "I wish to do more violence" and "Do you want me to lie to you now ?" and "You're supposed to keep the red stuff on the inside Charlie boy" and loads of other brilliant moments. Everybody gets a great send-off basically (even Lorne's, uncharacteristically dark as it is, is suited to the show and more than that, it's not cosy. Right up to the end, 'Angel' could still surprise).
The final scene of Angel is great and fits the show perfectly. As a whole, the final two episodes didn't do quite so much for me. I can understand why they wanted to not have the Senior Partners ever appear on the screen, but abruptly adding another big bad without any build up just didn't work for me. It became pretty clear in the final half the season that they suddenly realised they weren't getting another season and things had to be wrapped up pretty quickly.

The scene in which he signed away the prophecy was great, but where was the aftermath to it? I imagine that that was partly the point, but it never being mentioned afterwards felt like a bit of a waste of the five season build up, particularly as it had been talked about a lot during the finale season.

The use of the tired old "has he turned bad?" was kind of annoying as well. That certainly wasn't Angelus we were seeing in those last episodes and it most definitely wasn't Angel acting without ulterior motive, so it was, as ever*, predictable.

It certainly wasn't a terrible final episode and I loved those last few moments, but it no where near compares to Buffy.

Got to agree with them on the Six Feet Under ending. I saw the montage of them all dying coming from a few episodes back, but it was still a fantastically moving moment.

Got to disagree with them on the Seinfeld ending. Wasn't it TWoP that complained about it not that long ago? It was fantastic ending that showed the characters, and in turn the audience that had been rooting for them all the way through, as they really were.

@benboy606 and bobathin
You aren't the only ones that liked the BSG finale, I did too, although that may have been because I came to it late and was going in with very low expectations. I actually really liked it. The final moments could have been trimmed down a bit maybe, but I certainly enjoyed the episode as a whole. I seem to remember it being mentioned on here not too long ago and someone else said they liked it and it was actually their favourite finale of all time, so we aren't the only ones.



*I'm not blaming Angel for overusing it, but as a general dramatic device it is kind of transparent.
If i'm not mistaken Joss had no idea the show was going to be canceled at all during filming.
I thought the end of Angel was a great spring board for fan fic.

My favourite ender was Newhart. Loved it.
I may be the only person alive who LOATHED the Newhart finale. It made it like all those characters never existed. Loathed it.

I was meh on the Angel finale. It was just okay. To me it was vastly improved by After the Fall.

I am really suprised that the end of Xena wasn't mentioned. I never watched that, but I recently read someone describing the ending and was glad I never watched.
Yes, totally agree with most of what has been said here in regards to the wrongness of Angel as a cliffhanger.

It sums up the process of Angel's character perfectly. He realises that his redemption isn't achievable, and to think that he requires and/or deserves it as an end result is a relatively selfish notion, thus his easy signing away of the Shanshu at the end. His future is with his son's survival. It brings into play all the issues from Season 2 and 3 and ties them up perfectly.
benboy606, THANK YOU for standing up for the BSG finale. I feel like I'm one of the three people on earth who actually "got" it and wasn't completely mad at it.

Oh I got the fact it was a complete mess and made no sense.

As for NFA, I liked it, but felt it was a cop-out. It was an ending that wasn't really an ending. And I always hated how widespread the demonic elements got in AtS. I mean, this is a mythology that started with 'one girl in all the world' and grew in AtS with the Senior Partners and tCotBT having in there disposal an army of 10 of 1000's of demons.
I'm with the 'loved ATF'-crowd, and others have pretty much summed up why. It is still my favorite series finale. I certainly prefer it over 'Chosen', which wasn't bad, by the way, but was just a bit too steeped in silly season 7 mythology (the übervamp fight in the cave in particular, didn't do much for me). Thematically, though, it was quite a nice send-off of Buffy as well (both shows ended quite strong in that sense).

There's certainly room for both views, as - in essence - NFA is a cliffhanger (even if I do think it works much better without a resolution) as well as a great finale. Didn't the writers already write the script for NFA and then decide to not change anything when they knew they were going to be cancelled (which, I have to say: good call)? I remember reading something along those lines.

Anyway, for me, it works so well, that I'm - in some ways - actually glad the show didn't get that sixth season (even though I loved me some Angel). I hardly think it could've managed a better and more relevant send-off, after being picked up for more.
@benboy606 and bobathin
You aren't the only ones that liked the BSG finale ..... I seem to remember it being mentioned on here not too long ago and someone else said they liked it and it was actually their favourite finale of all time, so we aren't the only ones.


That was me, it's my favorite series finale, ever. We had a really great real-time discussion thread on .org - maybe a dozen regulars, and I think only two didn't like the finale. So we are not alone. :_)

My second favorite finale is Six Feet Under. So unexpected and so poignant.

The Wire was also a winner. And I'm surprised they didn't include The Sopranos, which was such a "love it or hate it" ending. I had to give it some thought, but after the initial WTF??? moment (or half hour), I decided I loved it.

I liked NFA, open ended is fine with me, if it's done well.

Mixed feelings about the BtS finale, but I can live with it. I just focus on the parts of the way the story ended that I love, rather than the actual final scene. Except the "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign falling into the crater, which was priceless.

I don't know under what heading, but I would have added the B5 finale. Maybe a separate category, "do make it beautiful and sob inducing" :)
ARRRGH. Thank you jesse for the spoiler. Some of us wait 'til the comics come out on TPB.
I think the authors missed the point on the AtS finale, going by Angel's last line.

For BtVS, the ubervamps were never that scary -- they would have done a lot better to have it be Caleb from the get-go, I think -- so the final fight isn't all that marvelous itself, but it does let the Potentials come into their own, allows that beautiful imagery of Buffy and Spike (and Spike's last words to her), gives Faith some excellent moments, lets rip that soaring score, and, of course, gives us the montage. You know the one I mean.

But for me the absolute best moment of all is the shot of the core four just before the fight, deliberately repeating their dialogue from the premiere, that moment of, "We are a family, we are so strong together, and we know each other perfectly."
"I may be the only person alive who LOATHED the Newhart finale. It made it like all those characters never existed. Loathed it."

You're not completely alone, Xane! While I'm no longer as pissed off by it as much as I was by St. Elsewhere's finale - for one thing, I suppose I give Newhart a bit of a pass as a comedy, making a joke - I was not pleased by that ending. Those shows have helped me in forming a guideline for judging series finales, though: if you have to ignore the episode in order to enjoy the rest of the series, it's not a good finale.

And just to swing 'round to the Whedon of the topic, I don't feel that I have to ignore either Chosen or Not Fade Away. Even with the open-endedness of NFA (and I do like ATF), I would list both episodes up as "do"s, personally.
"ARRRGH. Thank you jesse for the spoiler. Some of us wait 'til the comics come out on TPB."

Also, He dies in the 6th book; She's really a man; He was Keyser Soze all along.....
;-)
Prowling around these boards is treacherous territory if you want to remain unspoiled.

On topic though, that's one of the things that makes season 8 difficult for me to swallow, as I was firmly in the "They all died valliantly" camp when it came to the end of AtS. For him to appear now cheapens the power of the show's ending.
... and BRUCE WILLIS IS DEAD THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE MOVIE !
Wait, *who* dies in *what* 6th book? Dumbledore? Thomas Covenant? Fang? Now I'm proper flummoxed-like (oh, that last sentence was created by my "Speak British English the Spike Way" app . . . ;-).
What is the policy on spoilers? Was the 3rd comment a violation. I did not know that was true! :(

Admins, please edit the comment so that others are not spoiled. :(
Now I'm proper flummoxed-like (oh, that last sentence was created by my "Speak British English the Spike Way" app . . . ;-)

Bloody proper flummoxed-like. And bloody wanked too.

(I think 'bloody' in the wrong place is the thing they did wrong the most personally. Big chunks were absolutely bang on but that's one I noticed a few times)

And a tiny part of me is actually considering invisitexting mine. I'm just imagining some poor sod who's managed to stay spoiler free on the film for eleven years turning up here and - after the spluttered, disbelieving curses die down - pledging a one spoilee war on all that is Saje.
Ronald_SF, here's the relevant section of the site rules on spoilers : "We define spoilers as any information about episodes for any TV shows (including those not Whedon-related!) not yet aired or recently aired. People's viewing habits have changed and many use Tivo, DVR, iTunes or Hulu to watch shows in their own time. Also remember that people from all over the world visit Whedonesque.com."

I'll invisi-text the comment in question, even though the cat has kinda been let out of the bag on this one, seems to me. Better safe than sorry.

[Edited after I twigged what you were talking about]
Sage, I was one of the people who got pretty far with it, and eventually I watched the movie because I knew I couldn't keep it up much longer without being spoiled.
Under "Don't" i'd put "Don't totally change the tone of the series right at the last frame and therefore piss off your entire audience". Yes "Quantum Leap", i'm looking at you ;).


Anyone referencing Quantum Leap in any context gets a gold star.
SNT, thank you for the response and clarification.
Not Fade Away was perfect as several others have stated beforehand. There was no cop-out elements and Joss and crew knew for several episodes before hand that they were canceled which is why the finale was so heart breaking and why Wesley died so horribly yet beautifully. Angel's purpose was originally redemption but he came across something more important, fighting the evil that has encompassed the world and like he told Conner that one time it doesn't matter if hero's make a difference at all, they fight and live as the world should be to show it what it can be. Imo it was the perfect end to an amazing character arc and my favorite finale. :)
All I will say on the reveal that Jesse gave on the Buffy comics...why was it edited for a spoiler tag? What's the statute of limitations? Can I say it was Laura Palmer's father? Darth Vadar was Luke and Leia's father? Rosebud was the codeword? Seriously...just because you are waiting in the wings for your precious trade collection, or DVD box set or what-have-you, I feel in any fan community once something's been revealed in the time-frame it was meant to be revealed in, anything is fair game in all parts of the internet. That's why it's called the information age I suppose. If you don't want to learn of such things there is always Farmville to keep you occupied.

Just sayin'.

Oh and kudos for Quantum Leap being brought up. And colon left parenthese to the ending...but can we even discuss the ending on here?
I was one of the people who got pretty far with it, and eventually I watched the movie because I knew I couldn't keep it up much longer without being spoiled.

It was about 18 months for me ManEnoughToAdmitIt though I did have to take extraordinary measures (once even getting off the bus early because the people behind me were talking about it) and entertainment news sites/shows weren't as prevalent in '99/'00. Harder to stay spoiler free (and internet active at the same time) these days.

(to me, for spoilers that conform to the site policy but are borderline then if in doubt, sticking e.g. "(***spoilers for ATF***)" in brackets beforehand takes virtually no time and helps people out no end but it's optional and certainly with things that're years/many months old, the risk kinda comes with the internet sickle IMO. And I say that as someone who *hates* spoilers)

Going to save my gold star and kudos and spend them on some daft comments about blinking that i've been wanting to make, ta ;).

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