In May 2006 a whole bunch of long running shows concluded their runs, some voluntarily, others not so much. Here are my nominations for the ones I miss the most:
- Alias (ABC)
- Arrested Development (Fox)
- Everwood (WB)
- That 70’s Show (Fox)
- The West Wing (NBC)
When I read the description of Alias in the 2001 Fall TV Preview Edition I passed. The concept of college girl by day, butt kicking spy by night didn’t resonate with me. Then I read way too many reviews at sites like Aint It Cool News that loved the show so I decided give it a try. For 2 years, this show was at the top of my favourites list. I still remember the exhilaration watching the season 2 game changing post-Super Bowl episode that brought down SD-6 and even better the season 2 finale where Sidney woke up to find that 2 years had gone by and Vaughn was married. Maybe JJ Abrams was too busy developing Lost but after that season the show began to meander and lose focus in particular with its increasingly complex Rambaldi mystery. I still liked it from episode to episode but it was no longer a show I rushed to see every week. When the show ended last season after 5 seasons with big deaths and a happy ending for Sydney and Vaughn, I felt the show had run its course.
Arrested Development will be remembered as one of the most unique shows ever to air on TV with more laughs per minute then any show I can remember. Watching episodes repeatedly was the only way to not miss the rapid fire and often subtle jokes. Arrested Development also had one of the greatest ensemble casts ever assembled and if we don’t see Jason Bateman back on TV next fall I will be very, very bitter. Truth be told, I’m shocked it even lasted 3 seasons but am glad it will live on forever on DVD.
Everwood may be my favourite family drama ever. It’s a show that’s in my TV Hall of Fame for its amazing and realistic portrayal of the family dynamic with some of the best characters ever on TV. A show that never shied away from having its characters make the wrong decisions or took the easy way out in the aftermath of their mistakes. From the first episode of the second season where they killed off Colin to the finale of the third season where Andy paid a pregnant Madison to leave Everwood to the aftermath of that decision mid-way through the 4th season in some of the most heartwrenching TV I’ve ever watched – this was a show that didn’t play by the same rule book as other family dramas. Watching an episode of Everwood, you were as likely to laugh as you were to cry and it was truly a perfect series from start to finish.
Over its 8 year run, That 70’s Show had a lot of funny episodes and created some big stars in Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace. But let’s face it, these guys have real careers to get on with. I would rather see Topher in another In Good Company then have this show continue past its prime. I’m glad he was back to wrap up the series but in the last year this show was horrible. It will live on in syndication forever but no new episodes are required.
Before The West Wing I never would have thought a debate over an agricultural bill would be compelling TV. Sure I loved Aaron Sorkin’s style from the criminally underwatched Sports Night but The West Wing took us inside the mundane aspects of a government and made it interesting. Sorkin stacked his White House with great characters, amazing actors and an idealistic view of politics that we don’t see in our own governments. The first 3 seasons were brilliant in particular the final few episodes of season 2 where the staff discover the President’s MS and the fantastic finale with Sheen’s tirade in the church after Mrs. Lanningham dies followed by his walk in the rain to declare whether he was running again with Brothers in Arms playing. Seasons 4, 5 and the first half of 6 had a significant dip in quality. Still a good show but the episodes were much more hit and miss as the characters started to become unlikable. The show started to hit its stride again in the second half of season 6 and throughout season 7 with the election campaign and the addition of Jimmy Smits and the amazing Alan Alda. I want to give a shout out also to the memory of John Spencer who died midway through the final season. I waffled on whether this show should continue but in the end I agree with the decision that the show was about the Bartlet administration and needed to end with it.
And the winner is: Everwood – beating Arrested Development just by a nose.