Ken Tucker tunes in for 'Buffy,' 'Drew Carey,' 'Felicity,' and more. Guess which one is best?

May 25, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

EW rates the TV-season finales

‘Tis the season to finale, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.’Tis the season to be jolly, ’cause we need a rest from our TVs.

Well, YOU get to take a rest, anyway. I’ll be here, scouring the screen for the few summer tryout series and ferreting out what quality can be found on new cable shows, as well as catching up on shows I never watch (I want, for example, to give series I never think about, like ”The Steve Harvey Show” and ”Cops,” a fresh squint.)

But in the week now upon us, it’s wrapping-things-up time. In particular, ”Home Improvement” is offering a particularly rocky 90-minute series farewell after eight seasons. Part regular episode (Patricia Richardson’s character gets a job that forces the Tyler family to move), part clip job of greatest moments (including a montage of star Tim Allen making that grunting-gorilla noise), it’s pretty weird, no more so than when everybody in the cast is thanked except its most famous alum, the original ”Tool Time” Girl, Pamela Anderson — talk about a missed montage opportunity.

As I write, there’s some question about whether The WB will even air the season ender of the best show on television, ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” due to network nervousness over its reported scenes of violence in Buffy’s high school. This post-Columbine squeamishness is not just idiotic (not airing one of the few programs that portray teens in powerful, responsible positions is being ”respectful” of the tragedy?); it also gives strength to the notion that TV shows should be censored to fit whatever is politically prominent at the moment.

Over on ABC, ”The Drew Carey Show” signs off on Wednesday with another of its patented musical numbers. Carey’s a funny guy, but these production numbers are getting predictable. The best season finale I’ve seen so far is the one for The WB’s ”Felicity,” on Tuesday, in which star Keri Russell must decide between would-be boyfriends Noel or Ben; there is also a nicely squirm-inducing subplot in which student Tangi Miller sleeps with her professor, Chris Sarandon. The show is at its best when it comes to moments of quiet desperation, and there are numerous ones in this episode.

Can’t wait to see how this all shakes down in September.

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