I’ve had the pleasure in my life to see some truly great series. Now, I know that there are controversies surrounding of the endings of a few of the shows I’m mentioning, but – this my list. So there. This isn’t even close to being a definitive list, just some shows on the heels of a show that just recently ended that popped into my mind. Shows that at the end, I truly felt a sense of loss as I invested years of my life and hours of viewing pleasure to watch on a weekly basis. I doubt any of these shows are new to people, but maybe I can put them in my own perspective.
This series created by J. Michael Straczynski ran from 1994 – 1998. It was a 5-part act, even though it had an unsuccessful spin-off series, Crusade, and a couple of TV movies. The thing I loved about this series was that it had humor, drama, suspense action and the occasional Daffy Duck joke. To give a brief synopsis, there was a war between Earth and the tri-clan Minbari race. Ultimately, peace was achieved and the Babylon project was created to be a bridge, a non-militarized zone for all races to do business and resolve conflicts. Unfortunately, the other FOUR Babylon space stations were either destroyed or disappeared mysteriously. Over the five seasons, you not only get to meet some interesting and creepy races, but you feel a sense of dread coming. There’s something lurking in the shadows – literally that wants to destroy Babylon 5 and pretty much all life as we know it. However, forces begin to gather to fight these shadows and the series ends with probably one of the biggest space battles ever seen on TV at the time. This series CHANGED how special effects were done of TV. This basically created the green-screen technology that is now common place on TV. You will get invested in the characters, their stories and ultimately the fate of the universe itself. This series changed how I viewed science fiction on TV and is the catalyst for the quality of storytelling of many shows since it went off the air. I liked Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but I LOVED Babylon 5. I bet you can rent all five seasons at your local library, Lord knows I did about a year ago.
It’s rare when I can say that the ending of a series made me tear up and give it a standing ovation in the middle of my living room. However, Fringe was a special show. Not because of the subject matter from episode to episode, but because the characters were so special and relationships were so powerful, you couldn’t help but fall in love with them – even some you only saw for a few episodes. Like many J.J. Abrams series, he has a vision for where he wants to take his shows. He has an idea (s) and magnifies with brilliant storytelling. The Fringe team, consisting of Walter, Olivia, Astrid, Peter and Broyles come together after a series of odd and unexplainable events happen that on a level never imagined by the normal human mind. So they co-opt the talents of the notorious scientist, Walter Bishop, the leading mind in the field of Fringe Science. However, there’s one problem – he’s insane, in a mental institution and quite literally not in his right mind. Over the course of five seasons, they piece together the clues and solve the riddle of why these events are happening. Along the way you meet time-hopping “Observers”, creatures of varying sorts, explore the depths of the mind, cross universes and meet the most interesting scientist of them all – Walter’s old partner, fellow scientist, founder of massive Dynamics and mystery to all – Walter Bell, played by the enigmatic Leonard Nimoy. This is a MUST SEE TV series and I’ve been privileged as a person who loves good TV and great stories. You will thank me. You will.
I’m not even going to lie – this was probably one of the few shows that I eagerly awaited the next episode each week – every season. Each episode ended in an epic-toned manner. Now, this series was FAR from kid-safe, so put them to bed and get a little close to your loved one. The sex, blood and violence was beyond graphic and quite frankly – gratuitous. But – that wasn’t even an issue because the story lines from season to season made you want more. All of the fans were shocked when the leading star, Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The creators even started a prequel series, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena to give him time to get the proper treatment and come back to the series, but sadly Andy died. To say that the fans mourned his passing is an understatement, and when Liam McIntyre was cast to replace Andy- he had an uphill road to prove to the fans that he was up to the task. It took a few episodes, but he did – and he did it in spades. This series had an ending. If you Google the topic or read about it in school, you know how this ends, but the RIDE… that’s what this show gave us – one hell of a ride to the end. By the time this series ended, you couldn’t help but get a little misty-eyed as you saw your favorite rebel slaves meet their fate and the story come to its inevitable conclusion. You couldn’t help but wish this was an alternate universe where destiny changed slightly and the outcome was more – fitting. Either way, as the credits began to role, you knew that you had just seen something special, and you wished that it could have gone of forever.
There are people that had issues with the end of this series – I’m not one of them. In fact, I LOVED the way this series ended. It was circular, fitting and prophetic; all the things I and anyone who loves a conclusion would wants. This series was dark, gritty, gloomy and – hopeful in all the ways that make a story of survival worth watching. I have to admit, there was a moment or two around the end of the 4th season that I wasn’t quite sure I understood or agreed with the direction of the series, but – I still enjoyed the ride. There were philosophical and spiritual concepts in this series that would make many scholars and theologists blush or rage, but that’s what I liked about this series – it pushed the envelop and it hit buttons that made you cringe and cheer in the same moment. I remember seeing the mini-series year before the actual series began and thought they had a solid concept and cast to make a great series. I was so happy that I rediscovered this series years later and caught up to experience the end before the finale. Even though subsequently Caprica failed and Blood and Chrome never got off the ground other than the first episode, I hope they come back to this universe again. There are stories that still need to be told and I want to be their to watch them.
A frakkin’ great series.
The pinnacle of a great, crossover genre series. Admittedly, season 3 wasn’t the greatest season of this series, but even the worst season of Lost was better than probably the best season of just about any show on TV the 10 previous years before it’s finale. Lost provoked discussion, debate and even a frantic amount of emotion. If I could describe Lost in one word, it would be – destiny. This show was about meeting your destiny, for good or for bad. This show was about understanding who you were to ultimately become who you were supposed to be – in order to possibly allow the one after you to do what needed to be done and meet their destiny head on. I will say that by the time this series ended, you expected it to be spectacular. You expected it to be special. You expected an ended deserving of the six years you put into it. Personally, I didn’t get what I expected, but I got a very special and deserving end to a spectacular series.
That’ it. Agree or disagree that’s my “off the top of my head” list of shows that do or will grace my DVD library.