Erin Payton and her inner circle dissect television in 2013.
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Series Finales

“Breaking Bad” (written by Rebecca Fons)

There are two types of people: Those who have watched all of “Breaking Bad” and were freaking out about how amazing it is/was from the first time we met Walter White standing on a desert road in his underpants; and those who haven’t watched any of “Breaking Bad” and were freaking out because everyone else HAD seen it and wouldn’t shut up about it all year.


I was the former: Devouring each weekly episode and counting down the days until the next season started. I watched one full episode standing up (the train heist one, naturally) because my legs were shaking so much in anticipation of what . . . would . . . happen . . . next. On a Monday morning during this year’s final season, I had an animated conversation with a coworker made up entirely of “Uh huhs” and “OMG, I knows” and “I could NOT believe its” because we didn’t want to give anything away to our colleague in the next cubicle who wasn’t caught up. “Breaking Bad” fans are incredibly conscientious of revealing any spoilers to those non-addicts, but once we meet a fellow “BB” watcher, we instantly fall into friendly discussion about the nuances of Mr. White, the tragic life of Jesse Pinkman and, you know, meth.

Gone but not forgotten

Let’s pour one out for these other shows that held our interest for many seasons–just not enough to make it to 2014:

“90210” (five seasons),
“Fringe” (five seasons),
“Hoarders” (six seasons),
“30 Rock” (seven seasons),
“Dexter” (eight seasons),
“Army Wives” (seven seasons),
“Burn Notice” (seven seasons),
“Futurama” (seven seasons),
“CSI: NY” (nine seasons),
“The Office” (nine seasons),
“What Not to Wear”(12 seasons)

Character Finales

Joss Carter, “Person of Interest” We knew someone was going down in the epic fight to bring down HR, and we were hoping against hope hope hope that it wouldn’t be Carter, the tough but lovable detective who first worked to bring down the Man in the Suit, John Reese, then worked side by side with him to aid victims and bring perpetrators to justice. Our hopes were dashed when she was shot down by HR’s second-in-command Simpson. That Taraji P. Henson apparently knew that her character was not permanent softens the blow . . . barely.

John Munch, “Law & Order: SVU” Munch (Richard Belzer) was created for “Homicide: Life on the Street” in 1993. When that show wrapped after seven seasons, Munch made an easy transition to a desk in NYC’s Special Victims Unit when the show came to NBC in 1999. Having not watched “Homicide,” I didn’t warm to the gruff Munch immediately. By the time he got partnered with Ice-T’s Fin Tutuola the next season though, he had won me over. I don’t watch the show, now in its 15th season, regularly anymore, but when I saw a commercial promoting his last episode, I couldn’t miss it. They sent him off in a fine fashion that left me a bit misty.

Matthew Crawley, “Downton Abbey” After the shocking deaths of Lady Sybil and Cora’s baby and the multitude of articles about the many cast members who inexplicably don’t want to stay the BBC sensation, the award for the least shocking death of 2013 was Matthew, whose car crashed on the way home from the hospital following the birth of his and Mary’s son. Not shocked, but maybe disappointed in Dan Stevens, who I hope doesn’t regret his early exit David Caruso-style. Not sure where this leaves our Mary, but I and all of the women in the UK will be tuning in to find out.

We also lost two characters unexpectedly and for very sad reasons. Lee Thompson Young, who played Det. Barry Frost for four seasons on “Rizzoli & Isles,” took his life in August of this year. Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson on “Glee,” lost his battle with addiction in July. Both deaths were heartbreaking and as their characters were integral parts of their shows, it will be interesting to see how the shows fare without them.


“The Mentalist” Due to CBS’s acute inability to start shows on time Sunday nights during football season (they attempted to remedy this by having “The Amazing Race” move to the half hour later start time of 7:30 p.m. Eastern, but it still often begins after 8 p.m.) I always DVR the shows after “TAR” to make sure I don’t miss who gets sent home. It was on one of these nights that I caught a few minutes of “The Mentalist.” I was struck by two things: “The Mentalist” is still on the air; and the elusive Red John, the villain who murdered Patrick Jane’s family, had yet to be unmasked. That finally changed this season as Jane managed not only to discover Red John’s true identity but also do away with the dastardly fiend. I know CBS is loathe to end it’s procedural dramas before their 38th season, but maybe this one can finally drift into the sunset.

“How I Met Your Mother” (by Roger Payton) The Season 8 “Mother” finale coupled with the subsequent Season 9 pilot, may have served as the largest “FINALLY” moment in the show’s history for stalwarts who’ve been watching from the beginning, ever since Ted Mosby first decided he didn’t like girls.


In its heyday (Seasons 2-5) “How I Met Your Mother” achieved that envious double win of gaining popularity on television, while subsequently becoming a cultish hit on Netflix as a show perfectly built to shotgun three or four episodes online with that constant “Meeting the Mother” storyline and the immortal Sir Robert Saget pulling you through to the next episode. The other edge of that sword has been a show that CBS, the cast, and creators have had no problem saying “Hey as long it’s working let’s run it back again” even if running it back again literally means, running the exact same thing back .again. If Robin dating Barney, them realizing they like each other, and Ted starting to feel like the fifth wheel worked so well the first time, let’s break them up, press the old reset button, and start the same plot arch over again, only this time give Robin and Ted slightly better jobs.

When Cristin Milioti was revealed as the “Mother”, it signaled the long-awaited beginning of the end for one of the better post-’90s sitcoms. The show took “Friends” and said, “We can do a B+ version of that, only in a bar instead of a coffee shop right?” I say beginning of the end because they got everyone to run it back one more time during Season 9 (with Jason Segel cleverly on remote for most of it).

Just know this from one fan, Ted: Sarah Chalke was your girl. If only she didn’t have those stupid kids. I can happily accept Milioti as the silver medal finisher, just as long as Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) finishes last.