Finale

How 9 Years of Television Were Just About Saved in Four and a Half Minutes

And relax…at the end of last week, the highly anticipated alternative REAL ending was leaked on to the internet and thank goodness it was. I really really like How I Met Your Mother. It never made me laugh consistently but it had a lot of heart, a great story, a unique gimmick and characters you cared about. Yeah, it was quite funny and easy to watch but its biggest triumph was making characters care so much about Ted, Barney, Robin, Lily, Marshall and Tracy. In April, I wrote about how Carter Bays and Craig Thomas’ ill-conceived finale basically ruined the nine years of TV that preceded it, so it seems only fair that now they’ve tried to correct their glaring faux pas, that we look at what went right and what still didn’t…

+ Ted didn’t end up with Robin

Hallelujah! The fact that the blue french horn peskily found a way to trump the yellow umbrella back in March was without doubt the worst part of the finale – and that’s no mean feat! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Ted and Robin make no sense. Maybe they did in 2005 but after nine long years of watching the pair develop, there’s simply no way. I’m still annoyed at the ridiculous U-turn of the writers in the original ending especially because it was probably just so they could use archive footage. Urgh. Thankfully, Robin can be my favourite character again. The meeting (what the show was about) between Ted and Tracy was sufficient for the viewers and it was right to end the episode there.

Fulfilling… Ted meets Tracy and she doesn’t die! Hooray!

+ Ted’s recap of the series

I don’t usually like self-appreciating shows but HIMYM probably deserved a moment of reflection in the finale. Ted recapping the long journey that led him to the mother, was far more respectful to her character and the show itself than having him disregard this journey as an afterthought in order to pursue Robin. It gave us a happy reflection on Ted’s irritating quest for the one, allowing the series to cap off it’s achievements on screen.

  Ted not visibly addressing the kids

I know, it’s a really small detail but it seemed right that the last line – “and that kids, is how I met your mother” – was spoken visibly to the children by future Ted, just before the visual credits. Of course, had they gone with the correct ending in the first place I’d imagine that small creases like this would have been ironed out.

+ The implication that Barney and Robin got back together

As a fervent supporter of Robin & Barney over Robin & Ted this was the most satisfying part. The finale’s ending wasn’t the only thing that was wrong with it – the rest wasn’t good either. I had real concerns when the alternate ending was announced that Robin and Barney would remain separated. After all, they broke up earlier in the episode and no new footage was filmed to piece together a different climax. However, future Ted’s narration about the tribulations of life and how things “things fall apart, things get put back together” as the camera pans to Robin and Barney exchanging glances at Ted and Tracy’s wedding. It also bodes well that in Ted’s recap of his story that Barney and Robin falling for each other was included and their divorce wasn’t. Long live Stinsbatsky!

Reunited? The right couple may have survived after all.

  The change of music

I’m definitely being pernickety here but my favourite thing – scratch that – basically the only thing I liked about the original ending was the music. The Walkman’s ‘Heaven’ carried on a long tradition of the show using great songs to escalate the emotion of certain moments and it was the perfect nostalgic track to see the show out. I seriously love that song.

+ The clip of the dancing yellow umbrella

After all, the yellow umbrella was what the show was all about. Not the blue french horn. It was NEVER about the blue french horn.

So there we have it, the alternate ending was simply unquantifiably better than the original. Thank you, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas for rectifying your horrendous blunder. I think it’s best we all pretend that the original ending never happened. At least now, I won’t have to sell my HIMYM boxset on eBay.

Desperately Disappointing

Desperate Housewives signed off after a successful 8-year-reign on ABC with it’s 2 hour finalé which aired in the States last night.

The show is often credited for ‘changing television history’ and is constantly praised as ‘iconic’.  You’d think having started off with a bang  (the suicide of Mary Alice Young) the finale would go out in the same manner? Well it didn’t,  it went with a pathetic whimper. The show has been declining in the ratings for years and after the dross, Marc Cherry served up last night. It was almost complimentary for the series finalé to have averaged 11.23 million viewers (40 million less than ‘Friends’).

Kiss them goodbye…The housewives have one last poker game

The show explores story arcs of the four main housewives and Renee and Karen;

Bree’s trial is in full swing and more and more evidence is being stacked against her; Ben is reluctant to answer any questions and Renee’s testimony reveals that she saw Bree return from the woods after she had buried Alejandro.
Gaby and Carlos are preparing to reveal the truth when Karen McCluskey overhears and subsequently ‘confesses’ to killing Alejandro in what can only be described as the best moment of the finalé.
Bree spends the second hour spurring the advances of her lawyer, Tripp only for her to go back on her decision and settle (I stress that) with her final love interest.

Susan spends the first hour serving no real purpose. It is revealed that she is hoping to move away from Wisteria Lane sooner rather than later and Lee has already been enlisted to help her sell. Despite, the odd attempt to hide her plans from her friends she is merely a bystander for the first hour.
During the second hour, Susan is seen frantically rescuing her daughter from giving birth in the back of a limousine and spends a solitary couple of minutes pondering her future with her daughter, Julie.

Lynette’s storyline is perhaps the most predictable albeit necessary of the episodes. She finally gets back together with Tom to close part 1 – ‘Give Me The Blame’.
She is then slapped with a CEO job offer in New York from returning, Katherine Mayfair. She ponders the decision and after a run-in with the same woman she runs in to in the supermarket from the pilot. However, she realises that Tom and her family are all she needs to be truly happy,  a delightful coming together for the show’s most realistic character.

Gaby spends the finale as we’ve become accustomed to seeing her in the last few seasons; quietly cracking jokes and mischievously pushing the plot along. Her ending is like Lynette’s, anticipated but appropriate. The viewers are treated to a happy ending in which Carlos and Gaby quietly bicker in to their old age, but they don’t have a particularly big part to play in the finale.

Elsewhere on the lane, the writers devote far too much time to Renee Perry and her wedding. ‘Edie Lite’ is seen on screen perhaps as much as the four main characters. Something, I thought inappropriate for a series finale. In direct contrast,  the death of Karen McCluskey was treated with grace and dignity.

With all this going on it’s easy to forget the delightful first meeting of Martha Huber and Mary Alice at the start of ‘Finishing the Hat’. It was just what the finale needed to boost any absent feeling of nostalgia.

However, in what could have been described thus far as a more than satisfactory series finalé. Marc Cherry left his audience not with a tingling down the spine but more a tingling slap to the face as a great TV show was dealt the injustice of this poor coup de grâce.

The final scenes depicted the four girls having their last ever poker game before vowing to keep in touch, however it is swiftly revealed that this promise was in vein. Omniscient narrator, Mary Alice then treats us to three flash-forwards revealing that Lynette moves to New York with Tom and the pair go on to have  six grandchildren. Gaby opens her own shop and becomes a presenter for the Home Shopping Network and Bree moves to Louisville with Tripp, where she is eventually voted on to the State Legislature. There is no denying that these endings are apt for where the characters started back in 2004. Lynette reaches the top of the corporate ladder, Gaby and Carlos are living the high life in a Californian mansion and Bree is paraded as the proud Republican she is.

The scene then switches back to Susan, the first to leave Wisteria Lane; she welcomes new housewife Jennifer and assures her that Wisteria Lane is far from boring. Susan then leaves before taking one last drive around the neighbourhood, as she is surrounded by endless cameos of dead characters from George Williams to Nora Huntingdon, Mike Delfino to Mary Alice Young, all clad in white during the tackiest moment of the series. This, accompanied by Mary Alice’s final poignant narration should have closed the show but instead Cherry chose to present one final cliffhanger as Jennifer is shown looking distressed as she hides a box in her cupboard whilst Mary Alice reminds us that “no secret stays hidden.”

Overlooked… Mary Alice didn’t wrap up proceedings.

What Went Right 

  • Bree avoided prison.
  • Lynette and Tom were reunited.
  • The conclusion of Lynette’s journey as a character.
  • The inclusion of Martha and Mary Alice’s first meeting.
  • The charming montage to Johnny Mathis’ ‘Wonderful! Wonderful!’

What Went Wrong 

  • The exclusion of Lynette, Gaby and Bree in the ultimate scene.
  • Ending on a cliffhanger rather than a poignant Mary Alice quote.
  • Bree settling for Tripp.
  • The girls leaving Wisteria Lane.
  • The unnecessary re-brand of Katherine’s character.
  • The tacky ghosts.
  • Not enough Mary Alice Young – The show didn’t come full circle.
  • The absence of Edie Britt, one of the show’s most popular characters.
  • The rushed, contrived and poorly elaborated finish.

Episode rating: 6/10 – I was expecting a lot better. Perhaps because it was a series finalé and my expectations are high or maybe because Marc Cherry has known how it was going to end for 8 years and he never realised just how awful his plan was.