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Friday, June 5, 2009

Most Bizarre Series Finales of All Time

Created by HarrisDaver

Every television show has to end eventually. Most are canceled well before their time and never given the proper chance to wrap up their story lines.
Some are and end their stories with a completely unexpected or bizarre route.

Journey's “Don't Stop Believing” and suddenly cutting to black. Taking the scene alone, and looking at it in hindsight, it was actually good: well shot and edited, very suspenseful, led to a lot of speculation, cleverly ambiguous. Of course I understand why people were upset and frustrated and I agree that some closure would have been nice but there is a lot to appreciate in that ending scene.

The bigger problem was that the rest of the episode (and season) kind of stunk. They kept hammering over and over the boring and repetitive “Depressed AJ” plot at the expense of other story lines, a good deal of plots were dropped or rushed (not just from that season but the show as a whole), most of the mob guys seemed virtually ignored, deaths seemed anti-climactic, and the show lacked an overall feeling of consistency.

“Don't Stop Believing” was the least of “The Sopranos'” problems.

The Sopranos

The premise behind the original UK and US remake of Life on Mars was the same. Sam Tyler (John Simm in the UK version and Jason O'Mara in the US version), a detective from the 2000s finds himself transported back to the 1970s. He's still a detective but he has to play by 1970s cop rules with 1970s technology. The shows were a welcome reprieve from traditional modern procedural police shows. Both series also had solid elements of surrealistic mysteries as Sam and the viewers try to figure out why he is stuck in the 1970s. The UK version lasted two seasons by choice of the show-runners. The US version was canceled after only one season, but was allowed to film a series finale to wrap up all the loose ends.

The UK Life on Mars ended with Sam coming out of his coma and back to the 2000s- the 1970s world was a coma induced fantasy. After his journey to the past, he finds the modern world cold; he cannot feel anything in the present day. To get back to the world he was most at home in (i.e. The 1970s), he goes to the top of a building, and jumps off with a smile on his face as David Bowie's “Life On Mars” reaches its crescendo. He succeeds in his mission and happily drives off with fellow 1970s detectives as he hears himself about to flatline over the car's radio. This ending hit all the right emotional notes and finished out Sam's story with class and dignity.

The American version was a bit different.

After a decent final episode, the final five minutes or so take the show into a brand new direction. The 1970s weren't real, much like in the original show. But the 2000s weren't real either. The 2000s were a computer program Sam chose to play while he was in suspended animation traveling in a rocket ship to Mars in 2035. Interference from space led a programming glitch which trapped him in the 1970s. His crew from the 1970s were his shipmates from 2035. There was also something regarding father issues that never fully got resolved or understood since the characters at the end of the series were mostly unrelated to the characters we watched over the past season. Then the rocket ship opens and we see the cast standing there looking at the CGI Mars landscape in the cheapest spacesuits since B-grade 1950s sci-fi flicks.

The creators claimed that was the ending they always intended. If so, it's good the show only lasted as long as it did. After one season, the future ending came across as a ballsy “fuck you” for canceling the show. If the series had lasted longer or had a bigger fan base, the ending probably would have gone down as “Sopranos-level” disappointing.

Life on Mars (US)