On the 2nd day of Festivus, TV gave to me...
...two perfect series finales.
As TV viewers, we've been conditioned to not let ourselves get too attached to good shows because more often than not, good shows get canceled early. Or, on the flip side, they go on far too long beyond their prime and the series finales end up falling short as unsatisfying afterthoughts.
So it's always a breath of fresh air when a truly quality program ends not only at its peak, but it ends with a series finale that does the entire run of the show justice. It doesn't happen often, and this year we were fortunate to say good-bye on a high note to two of the greatest cop dramas ever made, The Wire and The Shield.
To say that these two shows are the greatest cop dramas ever made is really an understatement. They're two of the greatest dramas - period - ever made. Beyond reinventing their own genres, both The Wire and The Shield proved over their twelve total seasons that there exists an audience willing to invest a massive amount of time to watch, analyze, watch again, and follow intricate, dense, intelligently written plots with numerous characters. Save for perhaps Lost, no other current show comes even close to matching the intricacies seen on these two programs.
The fact that both of them focus on the topic of law enforcement further proves how impressive they are - they took one of the most basic TV landscapes and turned it completely upside down. They both started with something so intrinsically simple and ended up becoming masterpieces for entirely different reasons.
The Shield [S07E13]: "Family Meeting" -- A befitting end to Victor Samuel Mackey. For seven seasons, Vic was the one bad guy that everyone loved to root for. He was a liar, a thief and murderer, yet somehow, we still felt bad for him. Vic became the first of many anti-heroes on FX and his presence opened the door for the likes of Tommy Gavin, Lucy Spiller, Patty Hewes, and Jax Teller.
In the series finale, we witnessed one of the great TV performances in Michael Chiklis' portrayal of the rotten LA detective. In the final moments of the episode, Chiklis' eyes said more than words could have ever expressed and I don't think anyone will soon forget the image of Vic Mackey wearing a suit and sitting at a cubicle - in his case, a punishment far worse than jail.
The Wire [S05E10]: "-30-" -- No other show (perhaps Boston Legal to some extent) has proven to be as socially aware as David Simon's Baltimore opus, The Wire. For five seasons we witnessed a city crumble from all angles through the eyes of jaded "murder police" Jimmy McNulty. Simon dissected all aspects of the war on drugs, the decline of the blue collar worker, governmental reform, public schools, and the media over the series' 60 episodes. He showed us that yes, the system is broken, and no, not much is being done about it.
However, the sad commentary on our society lent to an extremely compelling finale as McNulty, feeling the weight of the crime he committed and got away with, sat speechless while a montage of "Bawlmor" locations from seasons past made a final appearance - the death of a metropolis so to speak, flashing before his eyes.
Three Zachs for viewing
Four impressions we'll be missing
Five cancelled shows
Six shows you should be watching
Seven shows a-thrivin'
Eight stars a-shinin'
Nine foreign Americans
Ten shows on DVD
Eleven babes worth watchin'
Twelve shows a-stinkin'