May 1, 2007

Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

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It’s time to face the final curtain for the end is almost here. In Sun tradition, I will explain my column’s moniker. In the sitcom of my life, “that’s our Bundy” would be the annoying catchphrase that garnered hysterical fits of canned laughter. It was an inside joke between friends and I promised former editor in chief Erica Fink and my friend David Bean that if I ever got a column, that would be its title.
Why a television column? Why devote so much thought to the “idiot box” or “boob tube”? Television is the most influential of the mass arts. For most of its history, television has been a punching bag of sorts for those who considered it to be a “vast wasteland.” I don’t disagree that a great deal of television programming has been and is currently utter crap. In fact, if you were to sit-down and turn your television on randomly at any time on any day of the week, you’d probably be finding yourself becoming stupider. That doesn’t mean there aren’t worthy programs to watch. My goal in this column has been to highlight shows worth our time and worth intelligent discussion.
Thankfully for me and the viewing public, there’s been a boom in “intelligent” TV during my tenure at Cornell. Television right now is as good as it probably ever has been and we face the problem of not having enough hours in the week to keep up with every show.
The series that ushered in this new golden age of television is ready to call it quits soon. Only five new episodes remain of HBO’s The Sopranos and everyone is wondering what will be the end of Tony Soprano? Despite his violent tendencies, I don’t think anyone wants Tony Soprano to die although he very well might. Tony’s death seems too easy a way to end the series, but even he acknowledged to Dr. Melfi that a guy like him either ends up dead or in prison. I hope he doesn’t go to jail, because prison would be too ignominious a fate for such a great character. Regardless, all I can hope for is a conclusion befitting such a groundbreaking and thoroughly entertaining series.
Series finales are one of the hardest things for any show to pull off. How do you properly say goodbye to characters you’ve followed for so long. Weddings and birth stories are some of the obvious ways to end a series. Some shows have logical conclusions because of long running story arcs like when Ross and Rachel finally got together in Friends. Friends was never one of my favorite shows, but I made a point to watch the last episode. I remember watching the very last episode of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, but I was only eight at the time so I didn’t understand the significance of his departure from the air. Cheers’s series finale was the first one I truly remember as being important and it’s kind of hard to believe that show’s been over for 14 years now. I know I’ll get flack from my friends for writing this, but I still think one of the best series finales ever was from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Few people realize the show received an Emmy nomination for best drama that year.
Great expectations killed the last episode of TV’s greatest comedy. Seeing Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine go off to prison left much to be desired, but it was a ballsy way to end the “show about nothing.”
I don’t know what I’ll feel on my graduation day. I can only guess it will be a mixture of happiness, pride, and also sadness. I’ll feel happy I made it through, proud of my accomplishments, but also sad for the end of good times. I figure the end of college will be like the end of a favorite TV series. You spend so much time with certain people and places that it’s hard to let go when all is said and done. But like college, all television shows must finally come to an end. It’s kind of like the last scene in one of TV’s great masterpieces: Band of Brothers. The soldiers of Easy Company are playing baseball when they learn the war is finally over. Even though they are happy they can go home and be out of harm’s way, there is a sense of let down and melancholy that their army family will be disbanded. Sure, you don’t have to worry about being killed by Nazis, but college is also a uniquely intense period where lifelong bonds and friendships are forged. I have no doubt I will stay connected with the great people I’ve met at Cornell, but at the same time I know things will never be the same. While acknowledging the end of one great part of my life, I hope the best is yet to come for me and the class of 2007. Like President Jed Bartlet, I only ask: “What’s next?”
I would like to conclude my last column by recognizing the Sun editors who have helped me during my time at the paper. These are Mark Rice, Erica Fink, Jonny Lieberman and Michael Morisy. I’d also like to acknowledge the friends whom I never shall forget. These are: David Bean, Ashwin Phadnis, Raj Maniam, Luis Morales, Derek Fodor, Ben Slovis, Nik Bordia, Ethan Middlebrooks, Sarah Boxer and all the brothers of Delta Phi. To quote John Keating in Dead Poets Society: “Thank you, boys. Thank you.”