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TV Report Card: Grading 10 Season Finales

May 25th, 2012 12:07pm EDT

Revenge Cast Season finales are essentially the Hollywood version of final exams. They have to shock and awe and entice viewers into returning after four arduous months of dead air. From births and deaths to break-ups and OMG-worthy shockers, I’m grading 10 season finales. The SPOILER ALERT is implied.

“Reckoning,” “Revenge’s” thrilling season ender saw Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) not only confront her father’s killer in a satisfying and strangely sweet final fight, but surrender to her feelings for ruggedly handsome bartender, Jack. It wouldn’t be “Revenge” without infuriating twists and double-crosses. Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) prepared to head to Washington D.C. with a designer handbag full of evidence proving Conrad framed David Clark for the financing the terrorist plot. In a beautifully poetic twist of fate, the white-haired man who Emily couldn’t kill with that shiny axe, rigged Victoria’s plane to explode. Charlotte, devastated by news of her mother’s presumed demise, downed a fistful of pills. And Faux Amanda resurfaced with a bombshell of a baby bump. In the last seconds of this stellar episode, Emily feared all of the evidence that could exonerate her father had perished in the plane crash, but Nolan arrived for the last-minute save and with news that Emily’s mother was still alive?! If you’re not a disciple of ABC’s dishy, twisty, jaw-droppingly addictive soap opera, you have all summer to catch up. Grade: A+

Grey’s Anatomy

Since George’s senseless death, I’ve watched “Grey’s Anatomy” with some emotional distance. Having loved this show from its heyday of “pick me; choose me; love me” fabulousness, I’ve grown to regard the residents at Seattle Grace hospital as cooler, nerdy friends. It was why, after Alex (Justin Chambers) received a fellowship a illustrious John Hopkins, Meredith and Derek (Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey) headed to Columbia and Harvard respectively, and Cristina (Sandra Oh) finally decided to leave Owen for the fantastic Mayo Clinic (because it won’t cheat her on her), I wanted those characters, who have endured near-drownings, shootings, and miscarriages, to be happy.

Instead, a plane carrying most of the surgical staff crashed in the woods. The finale episode of “Grey’s” felt more like a premiere for season nine. It severely lacking in intensity even as the doctors succumbed to their injuries and the elements. The penultimate episode, “Migration,” felt more finale-esque as it saw Bailey’s boyfriend’s botched proposal and the now board-certified residents prepared to take flight. Shonda Rhimes only knows how all of the doctors will stay at Seattle Grace Hospital next year, because it’s pretty obvious the place is cursed. Grade: C

The Big Bang Theory

I hate to admit that the hilariously genius “The Big Bang Theory” became less knee-slappingly funny when three of the four leading men coupled up, and poor Raj whined about being lonely. Thankfully, “The Countdown Reflection” seamlessly married the geeky with the romantic as Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) tied the knot in a last-minute wedding before Howard blasted into space. The writers’ compulsion to shoehorn Leonard and Penny together ruined the awesome nerd-hot girl chemistry Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco had in earlier seasons. There was no clear resolution to Lenard’s spontaneous mid-coitus proposal, but as everyone watched the launch in awe and fear for their space-bound homeboy, I didn’t really care. Grade: B

Desperate Housewives

How does a show that’s gossiped and schemed its way through eight soapy seasons sign off for good? With the trifecta of finale must-haves: a birth, a death, and a wedding, of course! Julie’s water broke in the limo to Renee’s wedding, hilariously ruining her wedding dress. Bree (Marcia Cross) was exonerated after a cancer-stricken Mrs. McCluskey confessed to killing Gaby's stepfather, and died shortly after. Tom and Lynette reunited. “Desperate Housewives” could have ended on a maudlin note, as the viewers learned that the ladies would eventually leave the lane and lose contact, but it played like a raucous, final bash (if you ignored the cheesy, out-of-place ghosts of Wisteria Lane montage). It ended with a woman moving into Susan’s house, and locking a mysterious box into a cabinet. What’s in the box? Is it her dead husband's ashes? Is it a head? I’m more curious than sad. Well played, Marc Cherry. Grade: B+

Supernatural

The spooky adventures of hunters Sam and Dean have taken them to heaven, hell and now purgatory?! While the last episode of “Supernatural” seventh season wasn’t the action-packed, bromantic tearjerker it could have been, it definitely ended with a bang. Dick Roman, the teeth-baring monster with a taste of human flesh, was finally killed, but somehow the Winchesters were still screwed. Sam (Jared Padalecki) was trapped in a building surrounded by demons and littered with monsters, while Dean (Jensen Ackles) and angel Castiel (Misha Collins) were sucked into Purgatory—the place where all evil things when they die. Is it fall yet? Grade: B-

2 Broke Girls

This colorful, raunchy CBS sitcom had me at the first cynical zinger from hardworking waitress Max Black (Kat Dennings) and Pollyanna musing from sunny, but downtrodden heiress-turned-homeless Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs). The two women definitely work hard for the money, and it was wonderful to see how far Max has come since Caroline stumbled into her life at the beginning of the season. Coaxing a depressed Caroline from her bed, Max convinced her to attend an elite New York City gala (think the timely Metropolitan Costume Institute Gala) to present their cupcakes to the domestic diva herself, Martha Stewart. Their confections got Stewart’s approval. The most uplifting, You-Go-Girl moment belonged to Max, who stunned in a black evening gown, finally found confidence and integrity to confront Johnny, the two-timing street artist. I never thought the little show with crude jokes could bake up such profound life lessons. Grade: A

Hawaii Five-0

“Hawaii Five-0” had a painfully rocky sophomore season as it struggled to add new characters to the Five-0 taskforce and dig deeper into the rabbithole conspiracy of Steve McGarrett’s murdered parents. Series star Alex O’Loughlin missed two episodes to reportedly seek treatment for a prescription drug problem stemming from a shoulder injury, according to TVLine.com, which only left the action-driven cop show with a heart feeling even more off-beat. The finale finally reunited McGarrett and his favorite guns with Danno (Scott Caan) and his acerbic snark, and it all felt good again! Five-0 raced to catch a bomber with an explosive hatred for cops. Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) was forced to decide who to save—his wife or his cousin, Kono (Grace Park)—in a plot that was forgivable lifted from “The Dark Knight.” It all came to a scream-worthy ending when Joe White (Terry O’Quinn) finally led Steve to the mysterious “Shelburne” which may be Mama McGarrett, who died in a car bomb when Steve was a teenager. I can’t say that I was absolutely blown away by this twist, because I questioned her death in the first season, but if anyone can truly sell head-spinning, heart-breaking shock, it's O'Loughlin. Mahalo! Grade: B

Scandal

When I tuned into “Scandal” less than two months ago, I had no idea that it would turn into a fast-paced, twisted and sexy political drama in just seven fantastic episodes. The season finale ended brilliantly, and launched Bellamy Young’s Mellie Grant as one of my favorite villains on television. Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope sacrificed her dreams of building a life with President Grant (Tony Goldwyn) for the betterment of the country. As if that wasn’t enough drama, Quinn (Katie Lowes), the newest staffer to dawn the proverbial white hat, became the client as her true identity came into question. Who is Quinn? We have all summer to extrapolate. I officially love being Scandalized. Grade: A

Glee

The best and worst thing about the musical confection, “Glee,” is that when it’s good, it’s excellent, and when it’s bad, it’s almost unwatchable. The finale, which centered on the graduation of many New Directions members and botched nuptials of Rachel Berry and Finn Hudson (Lea Michele and Cory Monteith) was insanely unrealistic, one-sided and downright mean. Finn and Kurt, who apparently killed their respective auditions, didn’t get admitted to their dream schools, but Rachel, who choked in her audition, stalked the admissions director (a snobbishly understated Whoopi Goldberg) and used New Directions’ performance at a national competition as a second-chance audition for NYADA, was. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when Finn set Rachel free by breaking up with her on her wedding day, forcing her to go to New York City to become a star.

It was infuriating that the finale focused more on Rachel, Kurt and Finn and virtually ignored Amber Riley’s Mercedes, Kevin McHale’s Artie, and the rest of the core members of New Directions. The flashbacks to the pilot episode and Burt dancing to “Single Ladies” were heartfelt touches in an episode that needed many more. In the end, the “Glee” finale was painfully out of tune. Grade: D+

How I Met Your Mother

It’s not a season finale without a birth or a wedding, and “How I Met Your Mother’s” season ender had both. The first half of the two-parter focused on Marshall’s (Jason Segel) madcap race to get to the hospital for his son's delivery and the invention of the best middle name ever—Wait-For-It! The second half returned to the wedding that began the season. Even though it appeared that Quinn, Barney’s ex-stripper girlfriend (Becki Newton) would be the mysterious bride, veils were lifted to reveal Robin?! The twist fell disappointingly flat as the writers have pushed Robin to either Ted or Barney for the past one too many seasons. Frankly, Quinn was a fresh addition to the show, the yin to Barney's legendary yang.

Ted, taking Robin’s (Cobie Smulders) advice, decided to pursue Victoria, the one that got away all those seasons ago, which was another misstep. Not only did he poach a bride on her wedding day, he managed to pick girl with more baggage than all of his past loves combined. Ultimately, “How I Met Your Mother” always entertains in the most creative of ways, even if they jump a few sharks along the way. Grade: B-

I can't possibly watch them all, try as I might. What were your best and worst season finales? What are you doing to do to make it through those dog days of summer? Hit up the comments section below.

Related: 2 Broke Girls, Alex O'Loughlin, Amber Riley, Becki Newton, Beth Behrs, Cobie Smulders, Cory Monteith, Daniel Dae Kim, Desperate Housewives, Ellen Pompeo, Emily VanCamp, Felicity Huffman, Glee, Grace Park, Grey's Anatomy, Hawaii Five-O, How I Met Your Mother, Jared Padalecki, Jason Segel, Jensen Ackles, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Josh Radnor, Justin Chambers, Kaley Cuoco, Kat Dennings, Katie Lowes, Kerry Washington, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Madeleine Stowe, Marcia Cross, Melissa Rauch, Misha Collins, Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Dempsey, Revenge, Sandra Oh, Scandal, Scott Caan, Simon Helberg, Supernatural, Teri Hatcher, Terry O'Quinn, The Big Bang Theory, The Dark Knight, Tony Goldwyn, Whoopi Goldberg, Starpulse Exclusives, Comedy, Action & Adventure, Drama, Sexy Celebrities, Successful Celebrities, ABC, CBS, FOX, The CW

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