Over at American Reader they have an interesting article deconstructing long-form television story arcs, and asking, "can television EP's create a satisfying ending?" While the article mostly examines how shows fall short, and categorizes their failures, it does raise a good point.
Personally, I have been mildly dissatisfied, to pulling-my-hair-out enraged, at how even some of my favorite shows have ended. Battlestar Galactica, X-Files, Carnivale, and even Breaking Bad, in a I-don't-know-what-I-wanted-but-that-wasn't-quite-it kinda way, ended badly. Yet I still look back at those shows with fond memories and generally make excuses for their viewer-abusive endings like I have Stockholm Syndrome. Is there a solution to this torturous, co-dependant relationship I seem to have with television?
I want to believe that it is possible, that somewhere out there lies some yet-undiscovered, rare, and reclusive Golden-Goose-of-a-narrative that will perfectly complete me. How utterly co-dependant. Ok, so maybe not. There are so many uncontrollable variables to navigate: ratings, networks, cast members leaving, show runners leaving, etc. And considering the fact that the more complicated the narrative, the more satisfying it is for many viewers, it seems virtually impossible for EPs not to write themselves into a black hole of complicated sub-plots, whose gravity is impossible to escape.
I think the conclusion that Reader draws, that bad ending equals bad show, is untrue. While there may be some ontologically pure, perfect narrative out there (seems unlikely), I think what is more important is the journey shows take, their narrative twists and turns, and in the end, if their dismount is less than perfect, it may lower the judges score, but it certainly doesn't negate the beauty of the routine, to overuse an Olympics metaphor.
Besides television isn't real Art, anyway... Is it?