THE LAST FIVE ...
Closing up shop
It may be time for a change
Entry in the air
Music of the moment
Or ... BE RANDOM!
Saturday, Feb. 7, 2004 - 11:29 a.m.
Now leaving Stuckeyville
The folks at Frasier are upset at all the attention Friends is getting in its final season. HBO is finally letting Sex and the City go and some people — certain entertainment magazines — are acting like it's the end of the greatest show ever while I roll my eyes and watch the end of the run just for the hell of it. Countless shows get cancelled before renewal, never lasting long enough to establish a following that cares enough to lament their demise. Others in recent years — Freaks and Geeks, Family Guy — get axed by networks despite small but devoted followings that give the shows new life on DVD (perhaps to the point of bringing new episodes of Family Guy back to TV). Finally, there are shows loved by the critics but for whatever reason just can't seem to get the audience — the ratings — the networks like to see in order to keep these shows around.
As we watched what NBC waveringly billed "the final episode" — not "series finale" — of Ed, I tried not to look. I watched, sure, but I tried not to notice the final scenes, which were played out like a true, final end of the run. I don't know precisely what was said about Ed over the years, but while it never seemed to win a timeslot or get mentioned in the weekly rundowns of the previous period's top shows, it must've had some support to last four seasons. Somebody must've liked it.
I certainly did. Last night, the whole gang was there at Stuckeybowl for the wedding of Ed and Carol. Ed gave a heartfelt thank you speech as the camera switched from the happy couple to the assembled multitude, and then panned through the faces. "It sure looks like a series finale," I thought, but tried not to believe it. Then the music started, one more nice little subtle-yet-fitting acknowledgment to the show's New Jersey roots: "My Little Corner of the World" by Hoboken's own Yo La Tengo. It's a jaunty but touching song, sung sweetly by Georgia that's both perfect for the wedding plotline and the show's penultimate scenes. The black-and-white still photos that would fit just as well in a show scrapbook as in a wedding album were poignant and made me smile.
I'm not upset about the show's ending in and of itself. Though it did redeem itself after a subpar second season (call it the Curse of Clem Snide, some New York band who got a favor from a producer and had their song "Moment in the Sun" replace the Foo Fighters' "Next Year" as the opening theme), I began to watch more for the location shots around New Jersey than I did for the daily happenings in Stuckeyville. But without Ed showing up weekly on NBC, saying I've been to Stuckeybowl and The Pond and The Smiling Goat — or at least their exteriors — won't mean as much; it won't be as fresh in people's minds.
But mainly it won't be the same for me. Who knows what will happen to Stuckeybowl. Once NBC comes out with its fall schedule in May, the network or the producers or whomever owns the bowling alley in Northvale will know whether or not to get it ready for one more go, or to put it on the market. It's fate then would most likely and, unfortunately, be dire Jeff Zucker admits there's a small possibility that the show could return, but the fact that they've given the cast the OK to accept other projects certainly doesn't bode well.
Is it weird to have so much personal history tied into a show when we've got nothing invested in it otherwise? Casey's right when she associates it with the growth of our own relationship, but is that silly? I don't think it is, and while clearly our future does not hinge on the show's longevity — we'll hopefully be watching it on DVD well into old age — it's a shame to see it end. I think it could do well if NBC would stick to it on one night. Friday seems best, since the fans most likely to stick with it aren't the young types who wouldn't be able to name one show on TV that night. Though I never saw it, Providence seems to have some parallels to Ed, not the least of which is the fact that both got quiet, perhaps premature, cancellation notices.
The last time I felt so strongly about a show's ending was in high school when ABC axed The Wonder Years — which coincidentally starred as Kevin's father Dan Lauria, who played Carol's father on Ed a few times this season, including last night. I loved that show. I was swept up into the nostalgia of a time a few years before I was born. The fact that Kevin and I were the same age during the show's run certainly helped. Though the historical events — the space program, the Vietnam War — did not line up, I related to much of Kevin's struggles with school, with girls, with jobs, with friends. If it weren't for the clothes, I could see myself as Kevin. I railed against the cancellation in an essay I wrote for no one in particular. I must've shown it to some friends in class or something, because my English teacher became curious. I let her read it, and she was impressed.
I found it recently, and while some (Jessica) might not care for it, here it is, in its entirety with only minor editing for some punctuation. Keep in mind this was written 10 years ago by a jilted 16-year-old who apparently liked hyperbole. I chuckle at my style then.
Okay, this is wrong, I agree, but if I don't say something then I don't think anyone will. I'm putting my mini-somewhat-half-almost-but-not-quite-a-research paper, due in two days, aside to voice my voice on this outrageous atrocity. I was just informed, as I set my VCR (yes, I can actually set my VCR and MAKE IT DO WHAT I WANT IT TO!) to tape the season finale of The Wonder Years (starring Fred Savage, Danika McKellar, Josh Saviano and Dan Lauria, among others) that this is not the season finale, but the series finale. Hold on, wait a second, rewind, back up, run that by me again please? Did you say series finale, as in that's it, the end, no more, see ya, syonara, adios, aur revoir? What cha talkin' 'bout, Willis?
Thanks for the memories, Kevin. And Ed.
Next page: And she wants a crystal goblet
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