Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Best Sitcom Finales

10. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
A pretty standard nineties finale that features a family moving.  This one has some memorable bits such as Cartlon's last Tom Jones dance and the cast of A Different World buying the Banks' house.  The best part of this was Uncle Phil telling Will, "you are my son."  For as broad and goofy as this series could get it did dramatic moments really well.

9. Even Stevens Movie
Maybe it is just the age I was when Even Stevens was premiering, but this stands out from most tween sitcoms to me.  It featured good character performances, some absurdity and sincerely funny moments.  This made-for-TV movie functioned as a series finale, it got to bring back almost all of the characters and made some fun callbacks (i.e. Lars Honeytoast).  The show was absurd enough that placing the Stevens unwittingly on a Survivor-like show did not come across as a gimmick.  The addition of the underrated Tim Meadows certainly helped the comedy.  This was a fun movie that is as good as the series.

8. Frasier
Not the best episode of Frasier, it is a pretty standard finale as it features a wedding, birth and a move.  But the writing is just as strong as the rest of the series.  Frasier's farewell to Seattle on his radio show was heartfelt and a great send off to the character who had been on television for twenty years.  And the reveal at the end that he may have finally found happiness was the perfect end.

7. Married...with Children
This is one finale where a wedding makes sense, as marriage is the theme of the series.  Kelly is engaged to a rich man and when it is revealed that male infidelity is accepted by his family and they try to pay off the Bundy's to ignore it.  Al then rejects their money and gives a great Bundy speech about the values of the middle class and how even if marriage is not great that it is something you commit to.  The finale is consistent with the dysfunctional crassness of the rest of the series with added sweetness and insight.

6. Boy Meets World
This is my favorite sitcom of all time.  I started watching this in reruns on Disney Channel when I was in fourth grade and younger than all of the characters were at the start of the show.  Now I am 22 and older than they were at the end.  This series really grows with you and does not get its due.

The two-part finale is mainly a clip show which is peppered with pretty meaningful moments.  The best of which is the return of Blake Clark as Chet Hunter and Mr. Feeney's final lesson.  The four main students who had been with the series since the beginning return to Mr. Feeney's class who tells them to "do good."  His final line to his classroom: "I love you all, class dismissed," is one of the best of the beloved series.

5. Seinfeld
Yeah, I am one that loved the Seinfeld finale.  I understand how much hype there was at the time, but watching it in reruns I think that it really makes sense.  These characters are self-centered and deserve some sort of comeuppance for their actions and above all they deserve each other.  The cameos from the favorite characters and their opinions on the four leads are a lot of fun.  The decision to end with them in prison is a strong final setting.  This is the best way to end a show about nothing.

4. Everybody Loves Raymond
I appreciated the show's decision to end not with a gimmick, but rather focusing on the characters.  This show is very much a slice of life and the best episodes are about day to day events (i.e. unpacking a suitcase) that a move or a birth would feel out of place.  The episode features Ray in the hospital, it is not for anything life threatening so the stakes of the show are not raised but rather it raises the emotions of the other characters.  It allows them to struggle with the slim possibility of loss and interact about it.  The ending of the episode which is a long dinner table scene excellently showcases the smart writing and incredible chemistry between the talented cast that made this show a phenomenon.

3. 30 Rock
One of two big finales from last season.  The final season of 30 Rock was almost completely perfect (save a few weaker episodes).  The season really built to the finale by getting big events (Liz's wedding and adoption) and returning characters (Spaceman, Duffy, Colleen Donaghy, etc.) out of the way.  This allowed the finale to focus on the main cast and the concept of finality.  The final hour of the show was the best episode of the series, perfectly utilizing its absurdist, meta format along with sincerity and intelligence.  So many great moments, such as Liz's speech to Tracy ("I love you because, the human brain is not properly attached to the human heart") and the finale moment of Kenneth in the future.  So many quick jokes, callbacks and sweet moments.  A perfectly crafted finale, watch it on Netflix if you missed it.

2. The Office
The last season of The Office was a step up from the previous several, but I had questioned the direction of several characters.  Andy had become very unlikable and unrelatable and Jim and Pam's marriage troubles seemed forced.  However the season really set up every character for this perfect final hour and a half.  The episode takes place six months after Dwight was made manager and became to Angela.  Stanley had retired, Kevin and Toby were fired and Creed was on the run from the law.  There are so many great jokes and quick callbacks with every character from the strong ensemble getting their moment to shine.  The ending with Creed's original song and Pam's final insight really made the series worth it.  A meaningful end to an influential series.

1. Cheers
This is the best finale that I have ever seen (provided that there are many that I haven't, as evidenced by this list which skews nineties and later).  A great three parter that leads towards a big event that you would expect in an important finale (Sam running off to finally marry Diane), but instead the nature of the characters prevail and Sam returns to the bar.  The finale ends up being fairly low key, but it leaves an impact because of the strength of the writing and the ensemble.  There is a great conversation about the meaning of life (comfortable shoes), some surprising insight from Norm and a well paced final scene.  "Sorry, we're closed.

1 comment:

  1. You have chosen a very good way to introduce us pictorially with grand finales of best sitcoms of all time. It seems so realistic. Thanks for sharing this list with us.