Finales, Fan Service, and the end of Eureka

I know that I am WAY behind the curve talking about this show, but last night my husband and I finally finished Eureka on Netflix.

A show which, while awesome, has terrible title graphics.

It was a wonderful finale to a really fun show–a show that had its share of ups and downs, but was overall interesting and whimsical and had a fantastic cast with wonderful chemistry.  The show brought our heroes’ stories to a satisfying end, making you feel like you had really seen the story of Eureka but at the same time assuring you that the characters lived on, and their stories kept going, even after the cameras switched off and the crew went home.

It’s pretty impressive that they did this, considering the short notice that the production team had in finding out that the show was going to be canceled in the first place.  Sci-Fi (or as it is now known. . . *shudder* SyFy) gave the show another season, and then reneged at the last moment, when there was only about half a season left to shoot, informing them that those episodes would be their last.

Now, many a show put in a similar position would be tempted to use a classic television marketing strategy–end on a cliffhanger.  They would give the show another really exciting story arc, end the episode leaving everything unresolved, and in so doing “force” the network to renew them again.

Eureka didn’t do that.

You know what they did?

Exhibit A: Main couple of the entire series, together happily, with a family, and another baby on the way.

Exhibit B: The most off-again, on-again couple in the entire show, finally getting engaged and being happy.

Exhibit C: The couple with the most actual reasons for being separated, finally together and happy (oh and also the guy who /should/ be in charge of the research facility FINALLY GETS THE JOB)

Exhibit D: The couple who overcame both death and amnesia, finally together and starting a new life.

Exhibit E: Rich founder of town (time travel, people) Buys Eureka from the Department of Defense, freeing it from its government complications and allowing it to be the best place it can possibly be.

These are just the highlights, there is a LOT to love about this episode of Eureka, but my favorite parts center around them actually resolving the storylines they had been developing for five seasons.

It seems that when storylines get resolved in happy/satisfying ways, I hear a lot of people lamenting the “fan service,” to use the most polite term, that the show is engaging in.  Blatantly playing to the desires of the fans.  I assume this complaint is grounded in the belief that such “fan service” hijacks the storyline, replacing good writing with pandering to the crowd.  It always has a bit of a hollow ring to it, though, because in the end, the story is for the fans.  A good story is nothing without people who think it is good.

Now, this isn’t to say that every decision in a story should be made by the fans.  Certainly not–that would be disastrous.  A television show is not a choose-your-own-adventure, and there is a reason that writers are professionals while spectators are just that–spectators.

And yet, I wholeheartedly believe that especially in a case like Eureka’s, where one knows that time is short and faithful fans who have been watching for years are about to be bitterly disappointed by the cancellation of their show, writers ought to reward those who have remained with them for so long by making things happen that the fans would like to see happen.  It’s so obvious that it seems stupid to write.  Those questions that have been asked for months and years?  Answer them.  Those frustrating love triangles?  Resolve them.  People have been watching, at least in part, to see what happens in these many story arcs.  Don’t disappoint them by depriving them of the ending they have desired for so long.

No, happy endings do not work for every genre or every show.  And yet I have to believe that they would work for more shows than there are that use them.  I’ve talked about happy endings before, so I won’t get into the details on this post, but suffice to say that I think a lot of shows should take a good look at how shows like Eureka have provided satisfaction for the fans.

Fan service.  Yup, in the end, it may be a little bit pandering, but it’s also mass entertainment because it’s meant for the masses.

As a wise man once said, “Give the people what they want.”

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