March 30, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 94  

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Drop reality, add quality

Sex and the City is coming to an end, and it’s not the only TV show to do so.

The popular HBO series aired its last episode over the weekend, and unlike most long-running shows, it is ending at exactly the right time. Most programs either end a few years past their expiration date (i.e. Frasier, Friends) or are cancelled while they still have plenty of gas in the tank (the soon-to-be-returning Family Guy or the soon-to-be-ending Angel).

Sometimes a show will be cancelled for an idiotic reason, like when Politically Incorrect was shelved because Bill Maher (GASP!) said something politically incorrect.

In a perfect world, every show would end on just the right note that logically concludes the “story” of the series. Perhaps the best example is Newhart, whose final episode was one of the most original in TV history; the show ended with Bob Newhart waking up in bed next to Suzanne Pleshette, his wife on the original Bob Newhart Show.

More often than not, however, the last episode is a weak link. Just look at the infamous finale of Seinfeld, which was well-written in the sense that it provided some closure to the show “about nothing.” The episode, however, had barely any of the trademark Seinfeld humour and ended up being more ironic than funny. If only every show could have the “quality, not quantity” attitude of HBO’s 13-episodes-per-season programs.

Whether you’re sick and tired of seeing Carrie throw back her cosmopolitans or if you still can’t get enough of Chandler’s wisecracks, the end of any long-running show often marks the end of an era. For most of us, Friends has been a staple since grade school. Women everywhere are mourning the loss of the show that celebrated the single life in the Big Apple. Angel’s cancellation means demon hunters everywhere no longer have a program to relate to... OK, the analogy isn’t perfect.

TV keeps losing the witty, well-scripted programs and replacing them with more and more crappy reality shows. No matter how popular a show like American Idol or Average Joe gets, there just isn’t the level of emotional involvement you get from characters you follow for years and years. The characters on Friends get referenced so often in everyday conversation they seem like real people: “Hey, this is like that time when Joey... ” And Kelsey Grammer isn’t the actor playing Frasier Crane; after 20 years, he IS Frasier Crane.

So we bid a fond farewell to Angel, Frasier, Friends, Sex and the City and any other favourites we’re failing to mention. May we meet again in years and years of syndicated reruns. At least you all lasted much longer than the average Canadian TV series. It’s hard to drum up emotion for the likes of Mike Bullard, especially when nobody actually watched his show.



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