Ending Your Series

If you spend any time on the internet, you’ve probably heard a lot about Veronica Mars the past couple of days. The creator of the television show–which was cancelled back in 2007–and key stars (including the adorable Kristen Bell) are committed to finally doing a Veronica Mars movie, only the studio wouldn’t back them. So they did a historic thing: they took the cause to Kickstarter to have fans fund the movie.

The big hullabaloo has been partly about how historic this action is and how the project broke so many records–it raised its goal of $2 million in less than 24 hours–but the internet was already buzzing about the project before the records started breaking. Why? It’s the ending we’ve all been waiting for.

Veronica Mars was one of those shows that ended because it was cancelled, and the news of cancellation was probably hanging tenuously in the air because while the last episode leaves a LOT hanging, it does serve as a de facto ending. I wasn’t actually aware of the show when it was on-air so I don’t know how those fans felt, but I was pretty disappointed with all the things the show wasn’t able to do simply because some producers decided they didn’t want to pay for the show anymore. The story simply isn’t over.

The thing about television shows is that you get really, really hooked. After all, these characters come back every week with a new, exciting story line, and the good shows often last five to seven seasons, meaning over 100 episodes. That’s a lot of exposure. You get used to having them in your life. So when the show ends abruptly, or when a season ends knowing it might be the end of the series but might just be the cliff-hanger until next September but then is actually the end of the series, it is hugely disappointing. It’s as if you got to Act III of a novel and the author just stopped writing (oh wait, there are novels like that…I’m looking at you Amerika).

The better way to go out is with a “farewell” season, which is what’s going on with another of my all-time favorites, The Office. The  announcement in September that this would be the last season was important for a couple of reasons. First, it gives die-hard fans like me grieving time. More importantly, it allows the writers to plan the ending. Here’s what some of the writers and cast members have to say about wrapping up the main romantic plot:

The Office Ending

What’s interesting to me is what Greg Daniels (the one whose microphone falls) has to say about integrating call-backs from previous seasons into the final story. It seems much more basic to me. What they really did was find a conflict that was integral to the characters. It wasn’t just some conflict trumped up for the sake of conflict (which is something they kind of did in the past seasons) but the different characters just pursuing their natural inclinations and seeing what happens. Of course the earlier seasons’ decisions would impact the final season’s. In a novel, that would be obvious. In a television show, perhaps it is a luxury.

Hannah Jayne recently did this post on ending her paranormal suspense series. She brings a new dimension to it: the tax writing a series takes on a writer. Television shows are written by teams of writers and probably (I don’t know much about the TV world) governed by producers who have input on general story line. For a novelist, each book is your baby, and Hannah talks about all the babies she can’t have while focusing on one, very long baby (this metaphor is quickly disintegrating).  Still, Hannah makes an interesting point about how the series was plotted out and how Book 6 is the natural place to end. This is important to stay true to characters and story; ending where the story should end is an author’s last show of craftsmanship.

For those of you who don’t know what Veronica Mars is, start watching to catch up for the movie!

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