The most memorable episode in a long-running show’s history is the finale. Maybe it won’t “make” a fabled show’s history — but it sure can throw a little cold water on a a show’s legacy.
Think of how Seinfeld went out. I loved the idea of bringing back the show’s guest stars but a lot of fans were turned off that the show didn’t go off the air with the gang seated at Monk’s, just one more time.
Should a finale properly wrap everything in a neat bow? Or, like The Sopranos’ last shot, should there instead be mystery and confusion as to what just happened and will happen next, after the cameras go off?
It’s a wonderfully debatable point — what makes the finale successful. When the Seinfeld cast reunited on Curb Your Enthusiasm, the effectiveness of the Seinfeld finale was raised by Jason Alexander, underscoring how much disenchantment there had been in some quarters by the way Seinfeld left the air in 1998.
When Cheers had its finale — 20 years ago this month, as it turns out — you had to have a Sam-Diane hook. Happily, Shelley Long did return, for the first time since her Diane Chambers rode off into the sunset to become a Famous Author — and the usual push-pull humor ensued between her and Ted Danson’s macho but endearing Sam Malone.
I thought the Cheers finale was a complete triumph.
Here’s my Media Matrix Question of the Day: Did you think that the Cheers swan-song was the best finale in TV sit-com history?
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