Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

Series finales

The MentalistI just noticed the series finale of “The Mentalist” airs tonight (last two new episodes at 8 and 9 Eastern on CBS). Thursday night is the finale of “Two and a Half Men.”

Tell us your favorite (or top three, four or five) series finales.

Mine are “Newhart” and “Barney Miller.”

Spoiler Alert!

To understand the finale of “Newhart,” which aired 1982-1990, you really needed to have also watched “The Bob Newhart Show” from 1972-1978.

In that earlier show (a comedy, of course) he played psychologist Dr. Robert “Bob” Hartley. His wife, Emily, was played by Suzanne Pleshette.

Four years after the series ended, “Newhart” started with our leading man playing Dick Loudon, a writer of how-to books. He and his wife Joanna, played by Mary Frann, moved from New York City to buy a Vermont inn.

Got it?

In the finale, Japanese investors bought the entire town (except Dick and Joanna’s inn because they would not sell) and turn it into a golf resort. Five years later, all of the town’s eccentric former occupants come back for a reunion and in the madness Dick is knocked out by a golf ball. But that’s not the great part.

The final scene was in the bedroom. Bob Newhart awakes in bed, sits up and starts recounting a crazy dream. When his wife sits up, we see it’s Suzanne Pleshette, not Mary Frann. So the entire “Newhart” series was just a dream in “The Bob Newhart Show.”

The Old One-Two

“Barney Miller” ran 1974-1982, starring Hal Linden in the title role with one of the most amazing casts of characters assembled. They are detectives in the 12th Precinct of New York City and almost the entire show is shot inside the squad room.

To close out the series, they closed down the precinct and the various detectives were transferred or retired. The show ended with Capt. Miller, the last one to leave the squad room, shutting the door. Not exactly high drama, I’ll admit, but I found it a perfect fitting to the low-key setting we had watched for years. It left me sad.

What are your favorite series finales? Tell us in the comments, with or without the spoilers.

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