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Nominees for Best and Worst Season Finales

   My early front-runner for this May's lamest season-finale is last Sunday's ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" episode. It was a mess.

From the opening moment that matriarch Nora Walker (Sally Field) took a trip to Mexico to find her estranged and damaged son Tommy (Balthazar Getty), the finale was overloaded with silliness at the expense of drama.

How silly? At one intentionally humorous point, the verbose Walkers were told to stay silent while visiting Tommy at the spiritual hideout where he was living to deal with his irresponsible past behavior. The Walkers silent? What a concept.

There wasn't much of a cliffhanger, unless you're invested in whether Kitty (Calista Flockhart) and her political husband Robert (Rob Lowe) repair their fractured marriage. That plot line was clumsily handled, with Kitty getting an epiphany that changed her angry behavior and had her running off to stop Robert from leaving via a helicopter. When Robert couldn't hear her calls because of the helicopter noise, Kitty went back to address other Walker family problems instead of calling or texting Robert on his cell phone to explain her incredibly fast marital flip flop.

In the other big marital moment, Justin (Dave Annable) and Rebecca (Emily VanCamp), who a year ago thought they might be brother and sister, have decided to marry despite the skepticism of Rebecca's mom, Holly (Patricia Wettig).

A year ago, Justin and Rebecca's romance seemed kind of freaky because of the family plot line. Amazingly, the writers answered that criticism by seemingly planning to marry them off to the absolute joy of the Walker family.

Even though it was nice to see the Walkers end the season with some happiness, overall the episode was so weak and disjointed that you fear that the program may have trouble sustaining another season.

What did you think of the finale? And what are you some of your early choices as best and worst season finales?

  -- Alan Pergament

Network Newscasts Leave Emotional Coverage to Local Stations

The three major networks opened their nightly news programs Tuesday with reports on the federal hearings in Washington, D.C. about the circumstances surrounding the crash of Flight 3407 three months ago. It wasn't difficult to see why.

The transcripts of the cockpit conversations between pilot Marvin Renslow and First Officer Rebecca L. Shaw made the story about the deaths of 50 people in the Clarence crash even more powerful than it had been.

The transcripts were shocking, disturbing and frightening and spoke to anyone across the nation who has flown or plans to fly anytime soon.

Interestingly, NBC was the only network to put a face on the tragedy by interviewing a family member who lost a loved one on that flight. Robin Tolsma, who lost her husband, was featured in a brief, moving interview. CBS and ABC did not interview any loved ones.

The emotional stories were left for the local Buffalo affiliates, which did an admirable job interviewing family members and friends who understandly remain overwhelmed by the tragedy.

There will be more about the coverage in my Thursday column.

What did you think of the national coverage? What did you think of the local coverage?

-- Alan Pergament

Channel 2 News Learns How to Read

I got a kick at 11 p.m. Wednesday about the way that Channel 2 anchor Maryalice Demler introduced a story about the Federal Aviation Administration's investigation of whether Colgan Air violated federal rules by overscheduling its pilots.

"We're learning," said Demler, "a week before holding hearings on the crash of Flight 3407 investigators are looking into whether the airline involved is pushing its pilots too far."

Of course, it wasn't hard "to learn" since a copyrighted story by Buffalo News reporter Jerry Zremski ran on the front page of the newspaper about 18 hours before on Wednesday morning.

When Channel 4 uses the newspaper as a reference, it usually says so. Channel 2 just tries to find creative ways to avoid giving proper credit.

What do you think of Channel 2's creativity?

-- Alan Pergament

NBC's Southland Promos Are a Hoot

The promos that NBC is running for its new police drama "Southland" are unintentionally funnier than anything on the network's must-see Thursday night comedies.

If you're to believe the promos, America is close to falling in love with the series from "ER" producer John Wells.

Actually, the ratings have been going south in the four weeks its been on the air. A week ago, it lost by substantial margins in the age 18 through 49 demographic to the season finale of ABC's "Private Practice" and a repeat of "Criminal Minds" (which replaced "Harper's Island") on CBS.

Of course, NBC has renewed "Southland" and wants it to be a hit. But saying it is one doesn't make it one.

What do you think of "Southland"?

-- Alan Pergament

Private Practice Finale Is Pretty Sick

I know that TV series like to end their seasons with cliffhangers. But the Thursday night season finale of "Private Practice" had a disgusting one.

In the final minute, a very pregnant Dr. Violet Turner (Amy Brenneman) was helpless in her home while one of her psychologically-disturbed patients was about to cut into her stomach to extract the baby.

I hate most women in jeopardy movies. And I get a little squeamish watching violent scenes involving knives and cutting instruments. Since this scene was a combination of both, I was thoroughly disgusted.

To make matters worse, Violet was in her predicament after she finally had gotten into a happy place in her life and had decided to pursue a romantic relationship with Dr. Pete Wilder (Tim Daly).

Of course, TV series can't survive or thrive on happiness. But it would have been nice if Violet at least had the summer to be happy.

What did you think of the "Private Practice" cliffhanger?

-- Alan Pergament 

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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

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