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Which long-running TV series will have the most satisfying finale?
"Parenthood," "Parks and Recreation," "Mad Men," "Justified," "Cougar Town," "Glee," "Two and a Half Men" and "Strike Back" are among the veteran series that will be calling it quits in the first half of 2015. We have plenty of evidence that it's hard to end a TV show in a way that will please everybody who watched: for every "Cheers" or "Six Feet Under" finale, there are a half-dozen "Lost," "Battlestar Galactica" and "Sopranos" finale that divided their audience. In a TV era where the phrase "sticking the landing" has more and more currency, which of these shows has the best shot of doing so?
Likely outcome: "Mad Men" is the best of the shows on this list, and probably the one that will have the longest legacy, but I've seen enough dissatisfaction from fans about recent seasons that I can't imagine Matt Weiner pleasing everybody at the end. I'd say the safest bet is the remarkably consistent "Parks and Rec," where one co-creator (Greg Daniels) ended "The Office" as well as it could possibly have at that late date, while the other (Mike Schur) has studied the finale of "Cheers" like it was the subject of a doctoral thesis. The finale may not be as funny as "Stop. Pooping.," but I expect many smiles and a few successful tugs at the heartstrings. And I'd put "Justified" as my runner-up, since this final season will be built around the Raylan vs. Boyd confrontation the show has had to stall on for years now.
- Alan Sepinwall