The Finale Problem
I'll discuss "Lost" next week, when its actual closer has aired, but in the meantime there's "The West Wing" and "Will & Grace" to talk about.
Both these shows frequently annoyed the hell out of me, and yet I continued to watch, because they were so darn good and so darn funny and so well-written and well-acted. But once MDFs Mary and Steve's friend Jeff Greenstein, executive producer on "W&G", left the show for the second time, I too left. It was excruciating without his hand on the wheel: caricatures to begin with, albeit screamingly funny and endearing ones so that's not a bad thing at ALL, the characters quickly descended into Stereotype Hell, which WAS a bad thing, to a circle so deep that for me even the kinda soppy series closer last night didn't do much to make me sorry the show was over.
At one point some years back, Jeff, having established Leo's (Grace's boyfriend/husband/ex-husband/remarried husband, played by Harry Connick, Jr.) membership in The Operating Room Doors, a Doors "tribute" band (Leo, a resident at some hospital, was the drummer, a not entirely unlikely John Densmore knockoff), was going to spin one episode's B-plot around the band and how Grace thought Leo should be the lead singer, not the drummer. But the Doors management wouldn't give permission, which I must say was humorless and tiresome and typical.
Especially annoying because Jeff (a lovely, lovely man, and a very TALL man, whom I've met at several of Mary and Steve's annual Oscar parties) was going to try to get me a job as an extra, wearing my "I SLEPT WITH JIM MORRISON" t-shirt somewhere in the background. Failing that, at least he was going to have me on the set for taping. But it did not come to pass, though I did get to one taping with Mary and met Sean Hayes and I had just the BEST time. Having seen how movies work from the inside, it was interesting to see how half-hour taped-live sitcoms are assembled, and how incredibly hard everyone works and how focused they are. A lot more so, in a different way, than people on movie sets, who have the luxury of more time.
Anyway. The series closer was pretty maudlin and kinda weird and more than a little contrived. I enjoyed it, which means I wasn't multitasking as I watched, but it felt as though it had all happened long ago and far away.
"The West Wing" finale was actually touching, though I could have wished a lot of things had been handled differently. I even teared up a time or two. Martin Sheen, the late John Spencer, Allison Janney, Brad Whitford, Stockard Channing...we shall not see their like again in anything the like of this. But I'm down with President Jimmy Smits...sorry we won't be seeing HIS West Wing...
And Happy Birthday today to MDF Jared, a warrior and a poet, who rejoices in a Klingon heart and a Keltic soul! Beannacht and Qa'Pla!