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'Power' is Giving Us an Ending So Why Can't Everyone Else Do the Same?
February 9, 2020  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 


My grandkids can be sitting on a ski lift in Colorado, punch a few keys on their phone and add a song to their kitchen music playlist in Baltimore.

Scientists have sequenced all 3.2 billion base pairs in the human genome, whatever any of that means.

This is the age of miracle and wonder.

Why is it so hard to get simple closure on a TV show?

A few days ago, Showtime announced there would be no eighth season for Ray Donovan. Two weeks from now, spoiler alert, fans of Sanditon, Season 1 on PBS will be left wondering what happens next because the producers at ITV said they aren't making a Season 2.

What needs to happen here is that the deciders at Showtime and ITV need to watch Sunday night's closing episode of the Starz show Power, which has done its finale brilliantly.

Power, borrowing a bit from the classic "Who shot JR?" cliffhanger on Dallas, killed off one of its main characters in the midseason finale of this last season. It has now spent four episodes and will spend a last one Sunday, working its way through the multiple suspects – a countdown that seems headed toward ID'ing the actual perp.

No one has seen Sunday's episode yet, so no spoilers here. But the run-up episodes have been terrific, so it's hard to imagine the finale will be any less – and even if it's not exactly what all fans might expect, they have to be satisfied with the way the whole ending has been handled.

By giving this last big mystery multiple episodes, Power's writer/creator Courtney Kemp has been able to include wonderful nuances in the complex relationships among the many characters.

The characters in Power aren't particularly likeable. But they're fascinating, so viewers have counted all along on getting the details, like who manages to stay alive.

Starz is letting Power do that, and probably not just because the channel already has two Power spinoffs in the works. Truth is, closure to a long-running series seems to be increasingly viewed in the TV biz as a good thing.

It should be. When a show has been around long enough to build a loyal viewer base, viewers deserve to see the creators' vision of how it plays out. We've seen that with shows from Breaking Bad and Mad Men to Downton Abbey and Lost.

Many people think The Sopranos gave us the ultimate finale. Personally, I think it was a lazy evasion, but whatever the case, HBO let David Chase end it the way he wanted to.

Showtime has been very good about giving finales to its successful shows. Homeland is just starting a final season. The Affair got a wrap-up. Dexter got a wrap-up, albeit not one that everyone loved. Weeds got one, and Shameless is next in the queue.

So it's mystifying why Ray Donovan, which has been a solid performer for seven seasons, has been cancelled right in the middle of a storyline. Six or eight plot and character questions are dangling there on a Manhattan street, while the show's creators say they had no idea this would be the end.

It's like we're raising the spoon to our mouths, and Showtime has swatted it away before the food gets there. That's not how Showtime usually operates, which does not make this cutoff any less annoying.

Ray, Mickey, Terry, Bridget, Darryl, Bunch, even Sandy. We viewers can imagine what might happen to them, but the writers are the storytellers here. We like them. We trust them. We like how they tell the story. We'd like them to write the last chapter for us.

And then there's Sanditon.

Sanditon is a television expansion of an unfinished Jane Austen novel. The ITV version was written by Andrew Davies, who most famously adapted Austen for television with the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice.

Sanditon aired in Britain last fall and didn't get enough viewers for ITV to order a second season. It's running on PBS now, so U.S. viewers are now lined up for the same unresolved conclusion.

Yes, TV runs on viewer numbers. Even public television. But this was a major production, underscored by the fact it became PBS's major winter feature on Masterpiece Theater this season, pushing Victoria back.

Okay, not enough people watched it. But millions did, and they deserve more than to be left thinking, "Huh?" as the final credits roll. There should be some plan in place – an abbreviated second season, a movie, whatever – to give viewers a satisfactory wrap.

When PBS had a similar dilemma a couple of years back with its own production, Mercy Street, the last episode of what turned out to be the last season was rewritten to wrap up major storylines. It felt cramped and rushed, and it was still too bad that a good show had to end abruptly, but at least there was an acknowledgment that all these viewers who had gathered around the campfire deserved some resolution.

With Sanditon, viewers can't even pick up the book and see how it ends, because Jane Austen died before she finished it.

Metaphorically, so did this adaptation.

Not every TV show will have an ending, and sometimes it can't be helped. But it's hard to think of any good excuse for Ray Donovan or Sanditon to end the ride a mile short of their destinations.

Power to the viewer.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Shirley Ehrlich
I agree 100%. I guess I also hate the opposite. Sometimes a show has a natural endpoint and because of high viewership the producers extend the show for more seasons and string it out. I would put Killing Eve in this latter category.
Feb 10, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
 
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