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Seven season finales to watch

May is upon us, which means that season and in some cases series finales are about to start rolling out as the 2011-2012 television season wraps up and the cable networks prepare to take over the summer airwaves with shows like The Newsroom, True Blood, Breaking Bad, The Closer, Perception, Leverage, and Weeds. With scores of shows attempting to draw viewers in for a last ratings push and a finale ending designed to pull people back in the fall, which finales should you bother tuning in for, and which are likely to be a snoozefest?

I know I’ll be trying to catch at least seven finales, each for entirely different reasons.

NBC’s Community has a reputation for bang-up season finales, and I suspect this season will be no different. Now in its third season, the show has become a crowd favourite, and the network has set aside 90 minutes on 17 May to wow viewers with a three episode special. Depending on NBC’s schedule announcements on 14 May, the season finale will either be a opportunity for rejoicing or mourning on the part of fans, but one thing it will definitely be is entertaining. And possibly messy, if the last two seasons are any indication. Remember to wear eye protection!

Desperate Housewives is wrapping it up for good on 13 May after eight seasons. It’s a good run, and ABC was wise in knowing when to throw in the towel; the actors and production staff agree, thanking ABC for being able to go out with a bang. Viewers have been entertained, fixated, and sometimes repulsed by the antics on Wisteria Lane, and it’s good to end on a high note, rather than letting the show quietly peter out. With the show’s classically slightly soapy note (ABC seems to excel at primetime soaps), I suspect the season finale will be a tearjerker, with everything neatly wrapped up at the end, and I’m curious to see how it all falls out in the finale.

Fellow fans of GCB will want to tune in on 6 May for the season finale, ‘Revelations’; while the debut season of the show has been short, it’s packed in a lot of action, and the final episode promises to be no different, as the title suggests, with secrets spilling every which way as the GCBs confront the past, the present, and the future. Hopefully this won’t also be the show’s last season, because it’s currently on the bubble and ABC has a limited amount of time to make a final decision.

Over on Fox, viewers may see Bones framed for murder on 14 May as the show continues its juggling act between baby and brutality. The network has already renewed the show for an eighth season, so there isn’t much suspense in terms of whether or not it will be coming back, although some fans may be wondering whether it should come back, given the generally poor performance over the last couple of seasons. Bones has lost its focus, and the season finale may be an opportunity to pull it back in and tighten up; let’s hope so, or Fox may be facing poor ratings when it comes back in the fall.

Will they or won’t they? That’s the question on Castle on 7 May, where we’ll allegedly learn who shot Beckett…and whether Beckett and Castle will get together at last. Given the way a relationship between the leads destroyed Bones, I can’t be the only fan rooting for a continuation of sexual tension with no resolution. Part of what keeps ABC’s offering snappy is the dynamic between the two characters, and the sense of fun that pervades most episodes; the writing team has managed to play with the procedural format in a way that’s truly delightful. A relationship could ruin that feel for good.

Starting out strong, ABC’s Revenge has been a bit floppy in the last few episodes. The faltering show is set to finale on 23 May, and it’s unclear whether it will be back. This is a show tailor-made for the miniseries format, so I fervently hope that ABC is planning to either wrap it up, or clearly define an end date to give the series more structure. I want to know what happens to Emily Thorne on her quest for vengeance—and her voyage of self-discovery as she learns the high cost of revenge—but I can’t sit still for dull, wandering storylines that demonstrate a rising carelessness on the part of the writers in charge. The performance of the finale will in large part determine whether I come back for season two, if it happens.

Speaking of faltering, House—remember that show?—will be airing its series finale on 21 May. The long-running show is finally calling it quits after eight seasons, and in my opinion, it’s a decision that should have been made at least two seasons ago, when the show’s sparkle was long worn off and it had become deeply formulaic and dull. Making medical dramas engaging can be a challenge, and an artful production team knows when to gracefully end it. House notably lost its reputation as a critics’ darling over the last two seasons, and with good reason. The finale will be more of a relief than a bittersweet ending for me, because it was long past time, but I’ll still tune in for the end of an era.

Overall, fewer flashy endings have been promised for this season than last, reflecting an increased sobriety on network television. The more sombre tone seems in fitting with the somewhat muted mood of many viewers, but I’m hoping GCB and Community lighten things up a little as we gear up for summer.