TV Ending

I shaved off a good chunk of my beard because my ex girlfriend Eileen
thinks it’s funny to pop up outside the bathroom window and scream my
name. So I let her in to putter around the kitchen while I shaved the
rest of my face in a dark frenzy. I was planning to anyway, but I
wanted to do it on my own terms. I grew the beard while on vacation and
had meant to get rid of it, but people started calling me “sir” and
nobody carded me for booze. Without it, everyone thinks I’m an 18 year
old Mormon. I was glad for the image shift.

Eileen wasn’t in the kitchen making food, mind you. I don’t
think she could successfully reheat a pizza. But she sure does putter.
As far as I can tell, she just opens all the cabinets and rattles the
pans around. I’ve always thought of it as some compulsive female
instinct, like she needs to affirm to herself that she is a skirt
since, generally speaking, she’s unable to perform any household
womanly duties. My old friend James says she does this because she’s
crazier than a squirrel that’s been dropped from a biplane. Regardless,
I forgive her eccentricities because she has a killer body.

She wanted me to take her out to dinner, which was fine. Now, I left
Eileen for a reason and, yes, it’s because she’s crazier than a
squirrel that’s been dropped out of a biplane. But when she wears a
summer dress and wants to go out on the town, I always say yes. I
usually agree to these weird platonic dates because I enjoy taking her
to Ledo’s up at the strip mall and watching all the sad daddies stare
longingly, trying to ignore their little wives and wailing children.
Eileen knows men stare hard at her and she can rarely last five minutes
without hiking up her dress and asking me to identify an imaginary
blemish on her inner thigh. Though that may also be designed to confuse
me.

After half an hour waiting for our pizza, my ability to converse on an
intelligent level started to fade. Eileen was on politics and smart
girl things, which is useless since I know what she looks like naked.
Sensing my mental drift, she brought up a topic that really warmed me
up.

“Best finale to a TV show,” she said, sitting back and smiling.

“Any show?”

She nodded and smiled, crossing her arms over her lovely breasts and pushing them up slightly.

I watched her fox-like face for a moment, then I cleared my throat. Three shows came instantly to mind: Newhart, MST3K and Magnum PI.

Magnum ended it’s sixth season with an open ended finale that suggested
the main character’s demise, but left the actual facts open to
interpretation. Upon hearing about this, the fans all had a meltdown
and a powerful public outcry caused the studio to put together a
knee-jerk seventh season. However, this was against the will of
everybody involved. The compromise was to make an abbreviated season –
about 12 episodes – and provide a more fitting exit. Leaving in the
original death finale as a cliffhanger, Magnum and crew returned for
the final season, but, throughout the handful of episodes, it was
continually hinted that Magnum did die, that he’s a Sixth Sense
style ghost. In fact, they took it a step further and suggested that he
died a long time ago, earlier on in the series. There was a fifth
season near death episode that was mentioned several times in the sixth
and seventh seasons. Though I doubt Magnum enjoyed a Joss Whedon-style
foresight, there’s a feeling in that fifth season episode which, taken
in retrospect, makes me wonder if there was an attempt to create a mood
for the final years of the series. The cast and crew planned on the
following season being the last and, from the beginning, the sixth
season was all about death — peppered with the often violent
destruction of supporting characters. To add to this theory, the sixth
and seventh seasons also re-introduced a supporting character as a sort
of “is he or isn’t he” ghost/spirit-guide. He’d been blown up in a car
bomb meant for Magnum, and there were whole episodes devoted to the
ghost routine.

Magnum’s seventh season was an experiment in dark depression. Every
loose end was moodily tied up over the course of the 12 episodes and
the two-part finale opens with Magnum staring at graves and monuments
in Northern Virginia. He’s called back to Hawaii, against his will, to
help an old friend. Another open ended death scene wraps up the final
act and, looking back, this was probably intended to be ghost Magnum’s
realization that he had died long ago. So cut to commercial, then we
return for the epilogue. Magnum appears at a friend’s wedding (ignored
by everyone) in Navy dress whites, stepping out from a hedgerow. End on
a comic note, fade to black, then open up with Magnum in dress uniform
walking on the beach with his young daughter (murdered early in the
sixth season). The camera pulls back and we see Tom Selleck watching
the final beach scene on TV. He takes a sip of beer, then raises the
remote control and turns off the TV. A reminder to all of us that the
seventh season was forced and, in the end, it was just a TV show and we
should have let it go.

Newhart ended in 1990 and has the most clever ending I’ve seen.
After years as a retired shrink running a hotel in Vermont, his
season-long battle with the golf course developers comes to a comical
end when Bob is hit on the head by an errant golfball.

He wakes up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette, the actress who played his wife in The Bob Newhart Show which ended in 1978. Looks like the past 12 years have all been a weird dream, honey. Talk about creativity — there you go.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 put together a perfect finale. Mike
and the bots finally escape their imprisonment on the Satellite of Love
and what do they do? They get a basement apartment in Minneapolis (it’s
“right on the bus line!”) and settle down on a ratty couch to watch a
bad movie. There’s a pause while the camera pulls back so we’re
watching from the familiar position, then they start making wisecracks
and the scene fades into the credits. What’s the message there? We’ll
never escape cult cinema? Or, maybe, it’s an homage to the ending of The Prisoner.

By the way, that’s not on the greatest finale list because I think Patrick McGoohan was just being bitter and weird.

I think Eileen is turned on by all this movie and TV talk…or maybe the
shrimp pizza wasn’t settling with her. Either way, we left on good
terms and I went home to rub my beardless face, watch the last episode
of Red Dwarf and think about blemishes on Eileen’s inner thigh.


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