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The End is Near! Rowan University's TV Finale Fest Is This Friday
November 11, 2018  | By David Bianculli  | 12 comments

The end is near!

Well, actually, the ends are near – because this Friday, Nov. 16, as a tie-in with the publication of a new book I’ve co-edited, New Jersey’s Rowan University presents an all-day, absolutely free Finale Fest…

Come to the Rowan campus in Glassboro that day, and see, in a comfy theater setting with excellent sound and projection, such classic finales as HBO’s The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, as well as such rarely seen TV endings as the last episodes of NBC’s St. Elsewhere, CBS’s The Dick Van Dyke. Show, and NBC’s That Was the Week That Was. All that, and an evening Q&A panel discussion, too, with clips from the endings of CBS’s Newhart, Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, and many others.

The new book, which will be available for sale on site that day, already is available for purchase elsewhere on this TVWW site (and also here, just to make it easy). It’s called Television Finales: From Howdy Doody to Girls. Published by Syracuse University Press, it’s co-edited by Douglas L. Howard and me. Its seventy chapters, each devoted to a specific TV series finale, are written by more than 60 professors or TV critics (or, in my case, both).

Loyal TVWW fans will recognize several of the contributors, including our indefatigable David Hinckley (who writes about the end of PBS’s Downton Abbey), occasional contributor Bill Brioux (who covers the end of the 30-year reign of Johnny Carson on NBC’s The Tonight Show), and retired contributor Mike Donovan (who provides the book’s earliest example of a finale, the 1960 goodbye episode of NBC’s Howdy Doody).

But wait, that’s not all. Other current TVWW contributors are represented as well, and will be on hand Friday to introduce screenings of their finale topics and/or participate in the panel discussion:

Kim Akass is coming all the way from England to show and talk about HBO’s last Sex and the City and its several alternate endings.

I’ll kick off the day at 11:30 a.m. ET by showing the rare finale to NBC’s That Was the Week That Was from 1965 (I also, in the book, cover NBC’s Nichols, the rebellious 1972 finale starring James Garner as two very different versions of the title character.)

And our TVWW associate editor, Eric Gould, provides three different chapters in the book,  examining the endings to Six Feet Under, SundanceTV’s Rectify, and HBO’s Girls. He’ll be showing the fabulous finale to Six Feet Under.

The event on Friday, Nov. 16, was named Finale Fest by my Rowan University department chair, Keith Brand (who also contributes a chapter to the book, on The Colbert Report). By design, and unavoidably, Finale Fest requires a wall-to-wall Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to know how something ends, don’t watch, don’t come to the panel discussion, and don’t read that chapter.

A devoted website page to the event should be up on the Rowan University website very soon. But because I helped plan the event, and, with co-editor Doug Howard, am moderating the panel, I feel entitled to give any TVWW readers within driving range of Rowan’s Glassboro campus an early heads up and sneak peek.

So here, as best as we can tell, is the Friday, Nov. 16, schedule for Finale Fest:

INTROS AND FULL SCREENINGS (All activities free to the public):

11:30 a.m. – That Was the Week That Was (1965, NBC)

12:05 p.m. – The Dick Van Dyke Show (1966, CBS)

12:40 p.m. – St. Elsewhere (1988, NBC)

1:40 p.m. –  Sex and the City (2004, HBO)

2:35 p.m. –  Six Feet Under (2005, HBO)

4:00 p.m. – The Sopranos (2007, HBO)



7:00 p.m. – FINALE FEST Panel discussion; Howard and Bianculli, moderators

Books will be available for sale, and all attending chapter authors available to sign books.

Hope to see some of you there! It's all held at the King Auditorium in Bozorth Hall. I’ll be the guy in the Hawaiian shirt. 


Finally, if you want a terrific taste of what we’ll be covering, listen to this:

Last Tuesday, otherwise known as midterm election day, the Television Finales book and Finale Fest event were featured on Philadelphia’s local, wonderful WHYY-FM radio show, Radio Times. Marty Moss-Coane hosted a one-hour discussion of TV finales, with guests Doug Howard, the understandably ubiquitous pop culture expert Bob Thompson (who wrote our book’s chapter on St. Elsewhere), and yours truly. Even better, the hour was laced with great sound clips, of everything from Newhart to Justified.

You can hear it all…. By clicking here.

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Oct 28, 2023   |  Reply
Rowan University's TV Finale Fest is an exciting celebration of storytelling through television. It's a fantastic opportunity for budding creators to showcase their work and engage with a diverse audience. With the evolution of streaming platforms and digital content, events like these become crucial in celebrating the art of television production.
Oct 20, 2023   |  Reply
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For those of us who can't attend, we'd be very interested to hear the overall effect of the day. Sad? Satisfying? Disjointed? Amazing perspective of a wide range of American TV Culture? Or too focused on the glories of recent goodbyes? Would it work as a New Year's Eve event, one finale per decade as a larger retrospective? Really fascinating concept, nonetheless. Please let us know.
Nov 16, 2018   |  Reply
Wow! This sounds great! Wish we Idahoans could attend. Congrats!
Nov 12, 2018   |  Reply
Thanks so much for the info. The event sounds like such fun. There are lots of places to eat or stay overnight around Glassboro to enjoy all the festivities.
As for the radio show,that could have gone on till the election coverage began that night. Radio shows like Studio 360 or Weekend Edition could add to the discussion. Odd,but TV seems to have little time or space to talk about its history.though C-Span Book TV would seem like a natural.
Amazon lists a Kindle version of the book,but one suspects difficulty in signing one-another reason to visit the Fest.
As for our house,even though we don't live too far,driving and staying overnight is a bit of a stretch at the moment,but we encourage everyone to go. If I was going,I'd be in my Pogo Possum t-shirt,fresh out of the dryer. Pogo was a comic strip with the original version having a sad,yet poignant finale of its own. Meanwhile,the book is at the top of my Christmas list.Enjoy,kids!
Nov 12, 2018   |  Reply
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