Many TV finales happening this week. The final WEST WING was a bittersweet experience. This was a genuinely great show until NBC opted to dump its erratic (and drug-fueled) genius Aaron Sorkin in favor of a head honcho (John Wells) who kept the trains running on time. WW suffered a massive creative slump when Wells took over--a slump so steep that I had to quit watching the show. It was awful for awhile. A recent decision to take the series in a new direction with a Presidential race between Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda rejuvenated the scripts and cast, even though it took screen time away from characters we had grown to love.
As for the finale, yeah, it felt right, even though it sorely needed a scene with Richard Schiff. Allison Smith and Rob Lowe get face time, and not Schiff? Sheen's farewell to his staff was great, particularly his in-joke to his real-life daughter about saying hi to her mother (his wife) and his parting gift to Dule Hill. And what a class act the show was for keeping the late John Spencer in the opening titles all season.
LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT ended the year without any fanfare, just a typically solid show and the surprise exit (so it seems) of Jamey Sheridan. I'm not sure why he's leaving, unless it's to either do a play or he's just tired of showing up to play a role he could do in his sleep. Sheridan is a very good actor who was wonderful in a barely remembered NBC series called SHANNON'S DEAL in 1990 (although I understand he was miscast in THE STAND), and he'll be missed.
I said a year ago that this would be the last year for Vincent D'Onofrio on CI, that with his behind-the-scenes shenanigans and the return of fan favorite Chris Noth to do half the shows, the producers would be easing him out in favor of Noth in all 22 shows next year. Haven't heard any announcements yet, but I'd love to know what the ratings for the D'Onofrio episodes were compared with Noth's.
PRISON BREAK ended tonight with a typically suspenseful cliffhanger. I'm surprised that all of the escapees (at least the ones who made it over the wall) are still alive at this point, although T-Bag dashing through the woods (carrying his chopped-off hand, no less!) stretched disbelief more than a normal amount. After catching up with old WHITE SHADOW reruns recently and hearing an audio commentary on one episode that included regular Kevin Hooks, it was neat to see his directing credit on tonight's finale.