This season's best finales. Babies and bygones rule with female leads driving things home

By Ken Tucker
May 24, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
Friends: Warner Bros. Television

One way you’ll know it’s season-finale time is when babies start invading the airspace: On ”Spin City,” the producers virtually acknowledged that we really don’t care about watching Charlie Sheen mate with Heather Locklear, at least in sitcom-discreet terms. So they tried to crank up some last-minute affection for the series by showing us the arrival of a foster child for Michael Boatman’s Carter. On ”Dharma & Greg,” the title couple was still, after all these seasons, trying to bring their squabbling sets of parents together in harmony for no sensible reason other than, perhaps, Dharma’s good karma. Neither kids nor karma could prevent both of these long-running sitcoms from getting canceled, though. Meanwhile, on ”Angel,” David Boreanaz’s vampire adjusts to the idea that his infant son has suddenly (and probably in order to avoid being stuck with an infant on the set any longer) turned into a rebellious teenager.

”Ally McBeal,” the onetime home of the creepy dancing baby, tried, in its final season, to up its ratings by giving Ally an uncreepy child she never knew her eggs had hatched, to no avail in Nielsen numbers. ”The X-Files”’ much-anticipated climax promised to explain, among sooo many other things, what’s been up with the telekinetic tot Gillian Anderson’s Scully has spawned. And of course, in ratings terms, the biggest baby of all is — no, not Baby Bob, though the talkin’ tyke seems to have been successful enough to make a return in the fall — but rather the one Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel went into labor for in the finale of ”Friends.”

When it’s not baby time, it’s fantasy time: This week, the futurist explorers on ”Enterprise” close out their rookie year by getting transported even farther into the future, where Captain Archer (Scott Bakula, the most likable ”Star Trek” spin-off leader ever) must grapple with a violation of the ”Temporal Accord” (this means a lot to ”Trek” fans, I gather). The episode features a cliff-hanger involving a swarm of Suliban (read: bad-guy) ships surrounding our heroes.

Just as trippy but emotionally more satisfying has been the mind-bending closing story arc of the departing ”Felicity.” The following sounds ridiculous in summary but has been heaven to watch: Keri Russell’s college gal spent the past few weeks trapped in the past, trying to undo the magic spell cast by Meghan (terrific Amanda Foreman) that was supposed to enable ”Felicity” to divest herself of cheatin’ Ben (Scott Speedman) and hook her up with noble Noel (Scott Foley), but which instead has just brought her a world of heartache and trouble. Flirting wittily with ”Dallas”’ it-was-all-a-dream head-fake, to say nothing of the conventions of soap operatics, ”Felicity”’s supersize series ender manages to do justice to four seasons of underrated interminglings of drama, comedy, and romance. I’ll spill a bean or two in hopes of luring you: ”Scrubs”’ Donald Faison returns as Elena’s betrothed. (But wait — didn’t Tangi Miller’s character die a couple weeks ago…?) And the eternal Felicity dilemma — Ben versus Noel — is finally, decisively resolved. All this, wrapped in a juicy clip show that’ll make you ashamed of yourself for not watching more frequently: such flair, such innocence, such a fine use of youth! I never thought I’d find myself quoting the Sarah McLachlan soundtrack ditty: ”I will remember you.”