Friday, August 10, 2007


"There's so much to say about the final volume of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter saga, but let's get right down to the very end: The woman understands closure," says Mark Harris of "Entertainment Weekly."

Of all the stuff I read about the end of the Harry Potter series, that line stuck in my noggin as the most salient.

Perhaps it was because I'd experienced two other good closures in the last couple weeks, - so I inadvertently got a threefer on good closure. (Sounds like something they'd announce in K-mart: "Our threefer on closure is on sale for the next fifteen minutes, aisle 15, blue light special!")

My life was in turmoil back when one of my fav series of all time, "Moonlighting," was on the air. It was a struggle to catch episodes, not only because my life was in such upheaval, because the broadcasts of new episodes was notoriously spotty, and the network never announced when a new one was going to show. I'd nearly forgotten about that element until I watched the DVDs, and they'd started working jokes into the shows about it.

Because of the unpredictableness, I missed the series finale, and the bastards never broadcast it again. I've been mildly pissed off for years about that.

Well, I finally got to see it since the final season is out on DVD. And it was really good. Had I seen it back in the day, it would have blown me away, because the creators and writers of the show understood closure, and did about one of the only things they could've. (Since then, many shows since have stolen Moonlighting's thunder by aping some of its best gags, including the ending, so it wasn't as revelatory as it would have been to me had I not since seen pale imitations of it beforehand.)

After a wacky wedding episode, David Addison (Bruce Willis) struts down the hall to the office like he has a thousand times before only to encounter moving guys and a studio hack who tells him the show's cancelled. Cut to Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) getting off the elevator and strutting down the hall, too, as the camera lingers on her shapely legs before it pans up to her face, as always. (So we get the iconic opening to the show as a kick-off.) Once she's clued in, they make a mad dash to get married in order to save the show, and the priest gives them a great lecture on what love really means. They sit down on the alter, and Maddie says, "I can't believe I'm not going to see you again tomorrow." Then they do a montage of the best shots, ending with Willis doing is signature David Addison wave goodbye. Bliss.

I was a member of the tiny audience that really liked one of this year's failures, "Studio60." I thought the scripts were literate and funny, and did a great job of walking the tightrope of having characters with completely divergent views actually say things they would say. Even though she was a fundie, they tackled a character who was devoutly Christian, and made her believable and likeable. They did the same for her atheist on-again, off-again boyfriend. They did some great stuff about being black, too. But, the audience wandered and they got canceled. Since they knew this, they did a great three-parter for the ending, and their creative staff understood closure, too. The great troubled romance was resolved, two main players had a baby after a scary delivery, and so on. It was really well done and cathartic.

Hopefully we're going to see an era where artists realize that great closure is a thoughtful and welcome gift to their audience. (I'm looking at you, the people behind the disastrous Seinfeld finale.)

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