Season Finale Report Card: Sci Fi & Supernatural

by | June 2, 2010 at 1:59 PM | Finales 2010, SciFi Tracker, Special Features

(NBC/CW/CBS/ABC)

(NBC/CW/CBS/ABC)

We now stand in the aftermath of a colorful and diverse season of sci fi and supernatural television, with spies, superheroes, ghouls, ghosts, demons and cool gadgets strewn everywhere. Thanks to the cancellation axe flying fast and loose, several shows found themselves hacked down in their prime (‘FlashForward,’ we hardly knew thee), and were caught unawares with only a short-sighted season finale to serve as a send-off for the whole series.

How did the finales stack up against each other? Here’s our take. (Note that ‘Vampire Diaries‘ was already reviewed in the Drama category – hence its omission here.)

Season Finale Report Card:  Dramas

Most Epic Season Finale: ‘Supernatural
It doesn’t get much more dramatic than a smackdown between Heaven and Hell. Why this clever and kick-ass show doesn’t pull in a bazillion viewers every week is beyond me. As could have been expected, departing show creator Eric Kripke went out with a bang via several major character deaths (inasmuch as the concept of “death” can exist on any supernaturally themed show), numerous sob-worthy segments, the usual brilliant dialogue, high stakes, and seemingly irreversible final fates. Unlike the handful of shows in this lineup that suffered from “Inadvertent Series Finale Syndrome,” here was a season finale that could have easily doubled as a spectacular series finale – but fortunately, didn’t have to. Overall Grade: A+

Best Use of The Evil Twin Plot Device: ‘Fringe’
Also a strong frontrunner in the “How To Get Your Current Cast Members To Do Twice The Work For The Same Salary” category. It was doppelgangerpalooza in ‘Fringe’s fiery season two finale. Peter finally discovering his Over There origins, and Walter confronting Bell at long last, could easily have deflated the tires of this particular vehicle, but no. Alas, that blossoming love connection between Peter and Olivia will just have to wait (maybe), thanks to Impostor Olivia! Watch it here. Overall Grade: A-

The Season Finale That Didn’t Get The Memo About How It Was Supposed To Be A Series Finale: ‘FlashForward
This one needs to be graded on a curve. Particularly with such a complex show mythology, and given that the show’s creators had a five year plan in place, this inadvertent series finale left a lot of loose ends flapping in the wind, through no fault of its own. While lots of individual character flashforwards were indeed explained, the larger big picture plot points were left tautly spring-coiled and ready to launch season two. Perhaps the biggest mystery here is why ABC invested in a show with an intricate five year plan given the slapdash slash-and-burn knee-jerk mindset of modern TV networks. Watch it here. Overall Grade: A-

Slideshow: TV’s Best & Worst Season Finales

The Show That Even Kryptonite Can’t Kill: ‘Smallville
Sadly, the whole zombie virus subplot couldn’t be resurrected in the finale, but besides that, good stuff happened. Clark banished Zod from Earth, for now. Lois pieced together the mystery of Clark’s true identity (and it only took her nine seasons!). Tess died. Oh, and Clark has possibly lost his superhuman powers forever. Time-honored and very traditional cliffhanging techniques deployed here, to largely good effect, although after nine seasons, you wonder where they can possibly go from here…. Overall Grade: B

Most Satisfying Destruction of A Big Box Chain Store In A Finale: Chuck
At least Chuck didn’t have to drag out that whole secret identity thing for nine seasons – his sister catches wise in just three. Anyway, Chuck’s dad dies. Shaw lives. And Chuck was Intersected when he was much younger, it turns out. In some ways, the finale felt weirdly anticlimactic (and less funny) compared to the rest of the spectacular season. And we can look forward to a season four without having to ingest incredible quantities of turkey and swiss sandwiches in order to make it happen. Watch it here. Overall Grade: B

Because This Town Wasn’t Big Enough For Two Mediums, One Had To Go: ‘Ghost Whisperer
Another accidental series finale, so given the lack of prep time, this turned out OK, and surprisingly managed to end on a somewhat satisfying note. Aiden does the cutesy-creepy Haley Joel Osment thing remarkably well, and in the light versus dark, shadows versus shinies debate, the good guys got to ride off into the sunset having won the battle (if not the war). Overall Grade: B

The TV Show That Kinda Saw The Cancellation-Themed Writing On The Wall, And Tried To Make The Best of Things: ‘Heroes’
Like ‘FlashForward,’ the creators of Heroes weren’t exactly given a heads-up regarding their fate, but the show had been limping along for the past two seasons. This season finale was the perfect opportunity to really shake things up, wipe the slate clean (taking a note from ‘Supernatural’s genius finale, for instance) and possibly re-invent the franchise. It kind of did that. There was the Samuel versus Heroes smackdown, Sylar got a heart, the puppet master dude did his puppet master thing, and of course, the Heroes came out of the closet. Creator Tim Kring has promised fans a Brave New World (or at least closure) via a miniseries or movie. Overall Grade: B - (if judging the finale on its own merits) / C + (when considered as part and parcel of a somewhat tedious season)

Finale Utilizing The Most Unabashed “Oh, It Was Just A Dream!” Do-Over Technique: ‘Medium’
Nothing puts a cherry on a cliffhanger sundae quite like a recurring brain tumor. The apparent death of the title character doesn’t hurt, either, but the “it was just a near death experience” twist at the end felt like like something of a cop-out, and ended the season in somewhat deflated fashion. At any rate, ‘Medium’ has a whole new season in which to redeem itself, which right about now, most ‘Ghost Whisperer’ fans would give their Ouija boards for. Watch it here. Overall Grade: C