Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Psych & How I Met Your Mother: Thoughts on having a love-hate relationship with a television show & coming to terms with their series finales

So many thoughts, so many thoughts.... I don't even know how to best organize this. I guess maybe I'll take each show individually and bullet point my loves and hates. Because in a way, these shows, which both ended their long runs in the past week, parallel each other - they were both shows I fell for hard and fast and ended up being wishy-washy about (in the case of Psych) to not watching at all except for last night's series finale (in the case of HIMYM). In a way, I would compare them both to a type of ex-boyfriend. In the case of Psych, you fell in love with the boy, but he refused to grow up. While there were still things you loved, the continous immaturity and lack of growth became annoying after awhile. But, I never completely broke up with Psych. How I Met Your Mother on the other hand...I started watching on a whim, mainly, as a huge Buffy buff (ha ha), for Alyson Hannigan, and just fell for it completely - the great characters I could relate to, the realistic but refreshing storylines, the humor, the gravitas, the sincerity....I could go on and on. But HIMYM was like the boyfriend who somewhere along the way became this totally different person. You didn't want the same things out of life anymore, his priorities changed, he was a completely different animal that you didn't even recognize anymore, he was just going through the motions...and every now and then you'd check in hoping to see flashes of who he used to be, and sometimes you did, but it never lasted...and you'd spend your days sitting at home looking at old photo albums of the good old days, or the television equivalent - watching repeats of the early seasons. HIMYM, I broke up with. But I watched the finale. In both cases, there were things I loved and things I hated. There were flashes of old HIMYM in the finale, a lot of great callbacks, a lot of heart, but there was a lot that just let me down. The Psych finale I feel was a lot more successful, mostly because of its emphasis on Gus and Shawn, the heart of the show. So if you'll indulge me, I'd like to talk about my thoughts on both finales, as well as some finale thoughts on the series as a whole. Since the Psych finale aired first, I guess we'll jump in there (be forewarned, if you haven't seen either episode, there are SPOILERS ahead):

  • My two biggest problems with Psych as the years progressed were a) Shawn's refusal to grow up and b) Shawn and Juliet's romance usurping Shawn and Gus' bromance as the main character pairing on the show. I never had any problem with Maggie Lawson as an actress or Juliet as a character, but it was like the showrunners felt there HAD to be a love interest for Shawn and so they made Juliet it, even though it never made any sense. And when scenes between them or stories between them took away from Shawn and Gus' relationship, which was the heart and soul of the show, it was really annoying. I always enjoyed Juliet's scenes with Lassiter the most - they were perfect foils for each other. Ok, I got that off my chest - I feel better.
  • Ok, so those two things, plus the occasional too-stylized, too-homage-y episode were my main problems with the show over the years. But it was always still a fun show, and as someone who is still best friends with my childhood best friend, I always loved seeing Shawn and Gus' years-long friendship. They fought, they didn't always see eye-to-eye, they had differences in personality, but they were always there for each other, and as the years went on and James Roday and Dule Hill actually got to know each other, you could just see in their characters the ease and familiarity that comes with years of friendship. They were basically family. And the way Gus would just go along with and embrace the ridiculous scenarios and more importantly the ridiculous names Shawn gave him, was just awesome.
  • The last few episodes of Psych were actually the most heartwarming and emotional ones of the entire run...I actually cried. It made me fall in love with the show all over again. And it didn't hurt that Juliet spent most of the last episodes off camera, so that the show could refocus on Shawn and Gus.
  • As for the finale itself...overall, it worked for me. Shawn finally grew up, which was great, and even the final scene being about his proposal to Juliet worked for me because Gus was there with them. I have mixed feelings about Gus following Shawn to San Francisco - on the one hand, I wanted him to find his own way, follow his own dream, find a woman, have a family - but maybe Psych had become his dream.
  • I like the idea of Psych going on, just in another city, although I'm not sure Shawn's antics would fly in a big city like San Francisco, even with Chief Vick there. I'm also a little sad that Lassiter was left behind in Santa Barbara, although at the same time, he had finally come into his own - he was chief, he had a wife and kid, he was happy. I think he's going to be okay. I'm talking about him as if he's a real person. When he destroyed Shawn's DVD confessing to not really being psychic, I started crying. Again. 
  • Loved that McNabb got to become a detective!
  • Kinda thought Mira Sorvino was a waste of a name actress in the role of Betsy, who herself felt like an almost unneccessary add-on, although in the finale it kinda became clear that she was so super awesome at her job that Psych would've become obsolete if it had stayed. 
  • Even though it sucked that Shawn left without saying goodbye, and ended up making a DVD for everyone and their mother, I always appreciate when he shows and tells Gus just how much he really means to him...because Shawn doesn't always show or tell Gus that. 
  • Did they talk about Val Kilmer a lot on the show? I can't recall, except in the last few eps. But still it was kinda cool seeing him cameo in the finale. 
  • Loved seeing Henry doing some police work again - hope he was looking at the Psych offices to open his own private investigation firm.
  • Best guest star get, by far: Billy Zane. Now I KNOW Shawn has been a fan of his for years, so that was very very cool.
  • My favorite finales are the ones where life goes on....just without the cameras rolling. So that was a nice way to end the show.
  • I had my ups and downs with Psych...but more ups than downs. I thought the finale was pretty darn good.

::Sigh:: On to How I Met Your Mother:

  • The HIMYM finale being about Ted ending up with Robin was sweet, but diminished entirely the whole point of the show and the whole love story between Ted and the Mom. This 9-year journey was supposed to show that Ted and the Mom were an epic love story, and the coda revealed that, in fact, it was Ted and Robin who were the epic love story. That's all well and good. But I feel like that was written for the fans, not as an organic part of the story. There was not enough shown of Ted and the Mom to make me feel like their love was epic. And as cute as Ted and Robin were, they didn't work before, and they didn't work for a reason. Robin and Barney fit together organically (although never well the way the writers told it). Breaking them up was a cop out. Yes, maybe the Mom was a great love of Ted's, but her death and his ending up with Robin just makes her another stopgate on the way to the REAL epic love story. So why did we tune in for 9 years? (Or 7 in my case...) If Ted and Robin were the real epic love story, we all could have stopped watching after the very first episode.
  • Ted and Robin, Robin and Ted...I may be in the minority here but I was over this on-again, off-again, will they or won't they relationship years ago. It was the same reason I was over Ross and Rachel after the umpteenth time they got together and broke up. 
  • I hated that Robin and Barney got divorced. They were a perfect fit from the beginning, although apparently the writers didn't know how to write them together because they didn't want Barney to change. So they should have left them broken up. But since they decided to show them getting married, they should've kept them together. That really annoyed me.
  • I don't buy Barney having a love child with some nameless conquest and stepping up and being a father. I DO buy that if he could say I love you to any woman, it would be his daughter. I also buy him "fathering" those two young girls at the bar, even though it was SO not Barney - my fiance told me that as soon as he found out we were having a daughter, he started seeing every woman around as someone's daughter. He also teared up when Barney met his little girl...apparently he really related to that. So I guess that was well done, even though the scenario that brought Barney to that point was beyond bizarre.
  • I get that they were showing the gang still there for each other but drifting apart, but I needed some more Marshall and Ted. I always loved the portrayal of that friendship.
  • Alyson Hannigan did an awesome job bringing the emotion. I'm sure a lot of that crying was acting but after working with these people for 9 years, I'm sure some of that emotion around growing up and moving on and things changing was very, very real.
  • I loved how Ted and the Mom - err, Tracy - met. That feeling of destiny and fate and all of that jazz was what the whole journey had always felt like, what Ted had always been like, and in another story or with other actors/characters, it might have been too saccharin, but for Ted and the Mom, it felt perfect.
  • Ugh, I just want to bang my head against a wall...I am a spoiler whore so I didn't KNOW that's how the show was going to end but I had heard a rumor that the Mom was going to die and Ted was going to end up with Robin so I went in with reservations. I was so disappointed when I saw that's where they were heading. Maybe it's because my own mother got sick and died when I was somewhat young, so I hated that they incorporated that into the story, and I hated, even though she was supposed to have been dead for six years,  that the kids were all, "Yeah, this story isn't about Mom, it's about Aunt Robin - go call her! Yay!" Not even a tear or moment of nostalgia for your dearly departed mother? Not even a "Gee, Dad, what a beautiful story - can't believe how you and Mom found each other"? 
  • I guess I just really hate that the Mom WASN'T the love of Ted's life - Robin was. 
  • Oh, HIMYM - you were such a roller coaster ride. When you were up, you were one of the best shows on television and one of my all time faves. When you were down, you were just pedestrian at best. I was really unsatisfied with the finale. Really. And the more I think about it, the more upset I get. I actually thought I was on the fence about it last night, but it turns out, I'm not. I'm going to find solace in rewatching the first five seasons on DVD, and just pretend like the series ended there.
Did you catch either of these finales? What did you think of how these shows fared over the years and how they ended?