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Mad Men and Finales

Thank goodness the finale to “Mad Men” has passed.

I went Kafka during AMC’s week-long marathon of the show, only I morphed into a slug instead of an insect. For seven days, I invested every spare moment into another episode.

Jon_Hamm_(2008) Jon Hamm (right), a.k.a. Dave Draper

The much-hyped ending brought to mind other finales to long-running series.

“Bonanza” began on September 12, 1959 and ran until January 16, 1973. Surely there was a grand finale, I just don’t remember. What I know is the show was one of the first to be in color, which didn’t matter since we didn’t have a color TV. Three grown men and their father all living together on a ranch. Man, they sure could have used www.MeetSingleFarmers.com. Alas, the Ponderosa did not come equipped with WiFi.

“Happy Days” (January 15, 1974 to September 24, 1984) had a finale, but I didn’t watch. I’d already checked out after Fonzie jumped the shark.

MASH (September 1972 to February 1983) is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. I preferred the early episodes with Henry Blake and Trapper John to those with Sherman Potter and B.J. Honeycutt, so I wasn’t heart broken when the show ended. The two-hour finale left me disappointed. Hawkeye in the nut farm and Potter riding out of camp on his horse, pleeeeaaaaseeee!!!

The finale to “Seinfeld” (May 1990-May 1998) left me equally empty.

It’s not easy to bring an end to a show. There’s a lot of pressure to get the thing right. Which brings me back to the “Mad Men” finale.

Overall, I liked the way they wrapped things up. Particularly when they didn’t take the easy way out. You’ve got to admit, Don Draper appeared destined for an abrupt stop on a Manhattan sidewalk after an 80-something floor fall. Still, having the dark Draper find his inner self on the West Coast — though creative — left me wanting more. I craved one last snapshot of the immaculately dressed anti-hero perched on a bar stool, nursing a martini, sucking on a heater, and running women.

Alas, even the great ones have a shelf life. Don Draper had a great run.

bchastain19@gmail.com

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©2020 by Bill Chastain. Photo credits: Jill Doty Photography