Last weekend, the creator of NBC's critical darling, "The Good Place," announced the show would end after its upcoming fourth season. That starts the countdown to the moment we find out if yet another buzzworthy show lets us down with a bummer of a series finale.
For the record, I never watched "Game of Thrones," but I did read how the series ended and I can totally understand why many fans were upset. But an online petition for the entire final season to be redone? That's seriously pushing it.
And besides, if any show should get a redo, it's the one that produced the worst series finale ever, "How I Met Your Mother." Yes, the "Seinfeld" finale was bad, but it didn't completely obliterate the entire premise of the series in just 20 minutes. I loved the show, but I still can't watch reruns of it because I know how it's all going to end.
So if "Mother" is the worst, what is the best? There are many who would tell you that the gold standard is the series finale of "Newhart," with its clever twist of the entire series being the dream of Bob Hartley, Bob Newhart's character in "The Bob Newhart Show." But if you look past that surprise ending, you see an episode that was kind of a mess. "Friends" is my favorite TV series of all time, and I loved the finale, but there's no way it ranks as one of the best, thanks to its unrealistic portrayals of childbirth, adoption, and co-parenting, just to name a few issues.
I would also say there were issues with the recent "The Big Bang Theory" series finale, which due to the "Thrones" hubbub received very little attention. I cried like a baby when Sheldon (Jim Parsons) finally looked past his own self and acknowledged the importance of his friends. But doing it at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Sweden was a touch too "a very special episode" for me.
And that's the problem with most series finales. They're trying so hard to make it special that they lose sight of what made people care about the show ending to start with. Which is why my vote for the best series finale of all time goes to "Everybody Loves Raymond." There's really not much that sets those 30 minutes apart from any of the other episodes in the show's nine seasons. True, Ray (Ray Romano) does have a slight brush with death, but he doesn't visit heaven or take a stroll down memory lane or anything "special" like that. It happens very quickly, only long enough to make each character realize just how much everybody loves Raymond, thereby reinforcing the key theme of the show while still continuing to provide hilarious moments. The series ends perfectly with the family around the breakfast table on just another typical morning.
This season, "Place" is not the only series with the pressure on. Crafting the perfect finale will also be on the minds of the writers of "Blindspot," "Lucifer," "Modern Family," "Arrow," "Supernatural," and "Criminal Minds," among others. Let the countdown begin.
Meanwhile, you can catch up on "The Good Place" via Hulu, Netflix and the NBC app.
Angela Henderson-Bentley writes about television for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.