The Late Movies: TV Series Finales

I am a TV marathoner. When my boyfriend and I choose a new series to Netflix, our entire social lives disappear until we finish the series. Recently, we finished Six Feet Under, a show that has stayed with me long past the series finale. Here's a round-up of great series finales. Share your favorites in the comments and please, be forewarned, THIS POST OBVIOUSLY CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Six Feet Under

Possibly the best series finale in the history of television, the end of this HBO drama brings closure to all major characters with the future flashing before Claire's eyes as she drives from California to New York.

The Sopranos

Set to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," which blared through a jukebox at a local diner, the final scene in the beloved mob series surprised tons of fans. For months before the final season aired, rumors swirled that leading man Tony Soprano would not survive the season.


The gang talks about the meaning of life.


Five years after the entire town—with the exception of Dick and Joanna Loudon—has moved away, a surprise reunion brings everyone together again. As the ex-townfolk chaotically plan an extended visit, Dick is struck by a wayward golfball and collapses. In the next scene, viewers see Bob Newhart's orginal character, Dr. Bob Hartley, in bed, telling his wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette, Hartley's wife from The Bob Newhart Show) about a crazy dream he'd just woken up from. The bedroom is a recreation from The Bob Newhart Show and it's revealed that the entire Newhart series was simply a dream in the mind of Bob Newhart's 1970s character.


The last 15 minutes of the episode are a monologue from Roseanne herself. She reveals that the series has been a product of her imagination as she wrote her memoir. Anything she didn't like in her life, her daughters' boyfriends, for example, she simply rearranged.


With former cast members returning for the opening of John Carter's new hospital, Dr. Greene's daughter Rachel applies for a job at Country General.


Still the most-watched episode of television, the series finale of M*A*S*H* is not available on YouTube. This promo aired beforehand, though.


How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?

Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

TAKWest, Youtube
Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]


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