Season Finale Report Card: Dramas



Every show pulled out all the stops for its season finales, attempting to craft cliffhangers that will keep audiences in agonizing suspense for the next three months.  Now that May sweeps are over, it’s time to give out a report card for the returning dramas.  Which shows earned a spot on the honor roll?  Which shows should take a remedial finale class? Here’s how this year’s class ranked.

Best  Season Finale: ‘Vampire Diaries’

I would nominate ‘Vampire Diaries‘ for a Nobel Prize if I could, so I may not be the most unbiased observer. But this really was a fantastic finale. The best structured show on network television managed to wrap up season long arcs and answer every lingering question while setting up a whopping five cliffhangers for next season.  It was not just epic. It was poetic.  It all made sense. Every other series with a complex mythology should take notes.  This is how you do it.  It had the season’s biggest twist ending: Katherine is back and impersonating Elena. It featured the tragic death of a character the audience actually cared about, Anna, (ahem, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’) and the not so tragic death of Mayor Lockwood.  Plus, Damon reconnected with his humanity just as Jeremy decided to transform himself into a vampire.  Tyler started to come into his werewolf powers.  Caroline was seriously injured in a car accident.  All that plus character development, humor, great dialogue and Katherine cutting off Jonathan’s hand with a kitchen knife.  Case closed. Watch it here. Overall Grade A+

Most Exciting End to a Mediocre Season: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

A lot of nails were bitten during the tense ‘Grey’s Anatomyfinale as a crazed gunmen shot his way through the hospital.  When it as all over, two annoying residents that viewers hated were dead, Derek, Alex and Owen were wounded and Meredith miscarried hours after learning she was pregnant.  It had little to do with most of the season that preceded it, but it was two hours of riveting television. Watch it here. Overall Grade: A-

Slideshow: The Best & Worst TV Finales

Most Underwhelming Finale of a Great Show: ‘The Good Wife’

In its first season, ‘The Good Wife‘ stealthily morphed from a legal procedural to a sophisticated soap opera that would not be out of place on a highbrow cable network.  It’s like a more accessible ‘Damages‘ with likable characters. The season’s penultimate episode was crackling good television, creating high stakes tension about whether Alicia or Cary would get the permanent associate position at the law firm.  Unfortunately, the finale was a letdown.  First of all, the show copped out big time by showing the mysterious P.I. Kalinda, whose sexual orientation has been the subject of much speculation, kissing a male cop but obscuring her kissing scene with a door that covered everything but her high heels.  Really CBS? In 2010?  More importantly, suddenly the slow burn love triangle between Peter, Alicia and Will that has been a B storyline throughout the season suddenly turned into ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ The season ending cliffhanger was whether Alicia would take a phone call from Will about his plans for their future or stand by Peter’s side at a press conference announcing his campaign for state senator. Well, since if Alicia leaves Peter it would destroy the entire premise of the show and kill Will and Alicia’s sexual tension, I think I can guess what will happen next. Watch it here. Overall Grade: B

Best Game Changing Twist: ‘Brothers & Sisters’

The ‘Brothers & Sisters‘ season finale was pretty dull until the last ten minutes.  Was anyone surprised that the Walkers found a way to save their family business?  Does anyone care whether Justin goes to Haiti for a year?  Kitty’s senate campaign continued to be television’s least realistic political storyline.  Then, the episode ended with a shocking multi-car crash that involved the entire cast.  The staging was impressive. Rebecca and Justin were on their cell phones with the rest of the family when the line went dead.  They drove on and came across a massive multi-car pile up. Everyone knew Rob Lowe’s character Robert was going to be leaving the show.  Nobody knew that his head would be impaled by a shard of glass.  Holly and Scotty were also seriously injured.  Saul shocked everyone with the news that he was HIV positive.  The most tantalizing question: was it just an accident, or did it have something to do with Robert’s mysterious government mission?  Watch it here. Overall grade: B

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Most Inconsistent Finale: ‘Desperate Housewives’

Early in the ‘Desperate Housewives‘ finale, Eddie the serial killer delivers Lynette’s baby.  She persuades him to turn himself in.  The storyline is not mentioned for the rest of the episode. Susan never finds out who attempted to murder Julie.  Nobody on Wisteria Lane seems to find out that the killer who has been terrorizing the neighborhood all season has been brought to justice.  That lack of follow up was infuriating.   On the other hand, the conclusion to the Bolens saga was pretty cool with Angie tricking her terrorist ex Patrick by placing a bomb in the detonator that she gave him.  The episode gets longterm continuity points.  In season one,  Andrew accidentally ran over Carlos’s Mom, Juanita.  Bree covered it up.  That secret finally came out in the finale, though Carlos was oddly not told about it.  Looks like there will be interesting ripple affects next season.  There were two other big reveals.  There was a baby switch at the hospital years ago which involves some Wisteria Lane residents.  Yawn.  However, the return of Paul Young, the villain in by far the best mystery that show ever had, is more promising. Watch it here. Overall Grade: B-

Most Pointless Character Death: ‘Private Practice’

Dell was one of the few characters on ‘Private Practice‘ that was not completely annoying.  So why would Private Practice kill him off?  In a typical PP medical crisis, Dell and a very pregnant Maya were in a car crash.  Sam was unknowingly operating on the man who hit his daughter while Maya faced the prospect of paralysis or losing her baby.  Addison predictably saved the day.  Then Dell died of a brain hemorrhage.  This finale actually gave people less of a reason to tune in next season. Watch it here. Overall grade: C

Most Disappointing Finale: ‘Gossip Girl’

A million things happened in the ‘Gossip Girl’ finale.  But now that the dust has had time to clear, only two of them are memorable.  Chuck slept with Jenny. Then he got shot.  Neither of those are good things. The show’s prior greatness only makes it more disappointing.  It pains me to say this but, GG is in danger of going out of style. Watch it here. Overall Grade: C-

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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