For me, one of the hardest things is watching the final season of a cherished or much-enjoyed television series. There have been quite a few for me, some of which inflicted that weird melancholy I experience when things are coming to an end, in real life or fantasy. There have been many really good series that I loved and completed: BAND OF BROTHERS, BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA, CARNIVALE, DEADWOOD, DEXTER, LOST, M*A*S*H, MIAMI VICE, OZ, ROME, SOPRANOS, SPARTACUS, STAR TREK (all of them), and X-FILES. All of them I watched on dvd. There are several others that I am still engaged in. I like these types of shows, especially if well written and interesting, with good acting and characters. I am about to wrap up a few more, such as JUSTIFIED. One day I will have to rank all of them for my readers, few that they are.
But today, I celebrate the conclusions of two of my long-time favorites, and it is sad to see them go. The first is BOARDWALK EMPIRE, featuring the excellent Steve Buscemi. based largely on the historical development of organized crime in New Jersey, New York, and Chicago during the Great Depression, and featuring appearances by many real life individuals, I loved the costumes and sets and the complicated stories. You never knew when there would be a weird twist or the sudden demise of a favored character. And the bad guys were complex and often funny. Michael Shannon was good, although too grim and stiff at times. I liked when slips of humor wiggled past the facade. I never totally warmed to Shea Whigham's Eli nor Kelly Macdonald's Margaret, although they did fine jobs and are good actors. Stephen Graham was amazing and disturbing as Al Capone. Jack Huston's Harrow must have been harrowing (ba dum dum) to play, and I thought he was very good. There were many other good actors, and even the smaller and bit parts were well cast. I enjoyed how in the final season they did some backtracking and explained some of the development of the characters and how they fit together. It was a really fine series.
Last night I finished SONS OF ANARCHY, a really good series about life in a California biker gang with dark secrets, but that was hard on the emotions. I was surprised that quite a few characters survived in the end, many of whom I thought surely would get the early axe. Charlie Hunnam was pretty consistent and excellent in the lead role as Jax, and you have to give a lot of credit to Katie Sagal (Gemma) and Ron Perlman (Clay) for doing a wonderful job in their roles. There were so many good actors: Kim Coates (the crazed and unpredictable Tig), Dayton Callie (Unser), Ryan Hurst (Opie), Jimmy Smits (Nero, who I thought was consistently excellent), Niko Nicotero (Rat), Drea de Matteo (Wendy, who managed to shed her role in SOPRANOS), Emilio Rivera (Marcus, who was also consistently good), and Theo Rossi (as Juice, whose work seemed to get better and better as the show progressed). My favorite character, however, was Tommy Flanagan, as Chibs, the ultra-loyal and rock-solid right-hand Irish vice president of the club. I also liked Mark Boone as Bobby. Again, there were many really good smaller roles, and casting was wonderful, but for their looks and the professionalism of their acting, I thought. You never felt they were just going through the motions. The producers also got in enough salacious stuff, but didn't turn it into SPARTACUS. Here were bad guys that you still rooted for. I will miss them.