There is nothing like a brilliantly crafted series finale. In fact, it doesn’t have to be perfectly crafted, as long as it is true to the series, the characters and the fans who have stuck by the show the entire way. Tonight I watched a perfect series finale.
I’m talking about Michael J Fox’s departure from Spin City. Though the show technically did continue after Fox left due to illness, the series finale to me (and most fans of the show) is Mike’s two-episode goodbye. The series ended that day; that drivel starring Charlie Sheen that later was called Spin City was a different entity completely.
Mike’s departure could not have been more appropriate. The only way that the committed work-aholic deputy mayor would ever leave his post would be to ensure that none of his team had to leave theirs. When the mayor and his staff unknowingly entangle themselves with organized crime and an ambitious reporter threatens to take them down, Mike falls on the sword to not only save the mayor but to save the jobs of Carter, Paul, Nikki, Stewart, James and Janelle. For 4 seasons Mike Flaherty put out every fire that his crazy boss and staff lit; he loved his job, he loved his boss and he loved his staff. There was no better way for Mike to leave city hall and no better way for Fox to leave Spin City.
Like so many perfect finales before it (Boy Meets World topping the list- don’t judge me), the finale of Spin City had me crying my eyes out. They first hit me with “Carter, I love you too”; then it really started when Mike had his final moment with Nikki, a character who meant more to him throughout the series than almost any other; I really lost it when Mike gave his speech about hiring James then followed it up with “I have a story like that for each and every one of you… so my proudest moment is sitting here now, at this table, with all of you”; I wept as the mayor taped his final goodbye, called Mike “son” and pulled him in for a hug; and I’ll never get over the footage at the end of the episode, of Fox’s final curtain call.
Every goodbye in the episode (Carter, Janelle, Nikki, James, Stewart, Paul and finally the mayor), packed an extra punch because you just know that the tears in the eyes of all those actors were real; every speech was really about Fox’s relationship with the actor themselves as well as summing up every moment between those characters. Each one of them was a goodbye on multiple levels and that made them so much more poignant.
The greatest moment, the saddest goodbye and the most poignant performance and character writing in the entire series was one of these goodbyes. Sarcastic, creepy, chauvinistic and pathetic Stewart won my heart with my favourite moment. When funny man Alan Ruck looked up from his beer mug, desperately holding back the tears that were forcing their way out, and lamely proclaimed “whatever” after coolly shrugging off Mike’s massive sacrifice, my heart stopped. As Stewart rushed from the bar without a real goodbye, unable to stand the vulnerability, I cheered for the moment that finally transformed Stewart from a caricature into a character.
I loved this show. I’ve always loved Michael J Fox and always will. You all know how much I love Connie Britton. I love Barry Bostwick and Alan Ruck and Michael Boatman and Jennifer Esposito. I love Bill Lawrence (who would later create Scrubs). I loved when Nikki fell in love with Mike; I loved when Mike finally figured that out. I loved when James got braces and when Carter was left dangling outside a window. I loved when the mayor played laser tag and his affair with Mike’s mom. I loved when Carter adopted a suicidal dog and when Paul wore makeup on The View. I loved when the water boy that the ladies were ogling fought back with a $5/word vocabulary and when the mayor asked a reporter if he was drunk. But mostly, I loved this finale: 46 minutes as true to the series, the characters, the audience, the actors, the creators, the writers and the roots of it all as when Feeney turned out the lights and said “class dismissed”.