Seasons on the Brink

391px-Tandberg_tv_set_1962_IMG_9481It’s not easy ending a TV show “on top.” The most obvious reason is money: How much more revenue can we squeeze from advertisers until a show is run dry, out of ideas, finally ending in ignominy? Happy Days went on for ten years. Diff’rent Strokes ran for eight. Does anyone remember their final episodes? Was anyone still watching? (SPOILER ALERT: In the last Happy Days, Joanie and Chachi get married and the Fonz becomes a dad.)

So not every show can be Seinfeld. Or Arrested Development (in its first iteration). Or BBC’s The Office. Instead, complains Variety‘s Andrew Wallenstein, we have a final season of How I Met Your Mother that should’ve ended perhaps three seasons earlier:

[E]xecutive producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have known for quite some time as to how they wanted to wrap up and explain the show’s title. But as CBS and 20th have shoveled more and more money to them and the cast to continue their gravity-defying ratings, they forestalled the end and shoehorned in more episodes before the long-awaited payoff.

As a result, whatever blind loyalty kept me tuning in during the penultimate season was thoroughly exhausted this final season. Nearly the entire batch of episodes has been claustrophobically contained to the hotel where the wedding of Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) takes place. A storyline that would have otherwise been dispatched over a few episodes has been impossibly elongated; it’s essentially just vamping for a seven-month period.

The appeal of the titular search of Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) for his long-awaited wife has worn so thin that my hope is the finale will feature his surprise vow of celibacy.

My favorite line from Wallenstein’s column: “By the end of “Friends,” they had so thoroughly exhausted the romantic permutations of the cast that I was sure a Ross-Monica incest romance was in the offing.”

Photo courtesy of Bjoertvedt

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