TV Goes Hollywood

TV Diary

It used to be that season endings were quick and to the point. Sometimes the season-ending episode was longer than usual, featuring a special event, but the cliff-hanger that is now in vogue seems to be a new thing. Is it a good thing? Depends on the show and depends on the cliff-hanger. Here are a couple that I caught:

The X-Files (5/16, 7pm, Fox) cliff-hanger was lackluster compared to those of seasons past, particularly since there is no summer movie to catapult fans to the fall season. Apparently, we're supposed to sit on pins and needles, wondering if Mulder (David Duchovny) will regain his senses after a hunk of metal with hieroglyphics appears to push him over the edge. Heck, he's practically come back from the dead in so many past episodes, I think we can rest easy that Mulder won't be lost this time around either.

Will & Grace (NBC). Whoosh! Did you catch the license on that speeding episode? All season, we've come to understand the relationship between two adults who love each other but who will never be in a traditional, committed relationship (he's gay, she's straight). Just when we're getting used to that sometimes fun, sometimes prickly relationship, a bomb is dropped. At a wedding to marry off Jack (Sean Hayes) to an undocumented worker, Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) decide that maybe they're holding each other back from having a real relationship and that they should split. Whoa! Cold water, slap in the face! It's not that this isn't a perfectly valid thread to weave into the story, it just came so very fast and with very little preparation. In contrast, viewers finally got to meet Karen's (Megan Mullally) maid, in what turns out to be a hilarious battle of wits and wills. It was a wonderful payoff to see the deliciously malicious Karen, Grace's assistant in title only, put in her place by the frumpy woman, after a season of complaining about her work habits. As for the turn in the Will & Grace storyline, it's plausible, but abrupt.

Between season finales, catch the impeccably produced PBS series Frontline, featuring a biography of one of the great figures of this century, Nelson Mandela, titled The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela (5/25, 9pm). Born as "Rolihlahla," meaning, "shaker of trees," Mandela is best known for his tireless efforts to abolish apartheid in South Africa. According to press material, The Long Walk features "the most in-depth biography of Mandela ever undertaken. The profile features interviews with intimates -- from his most trusted associates to his jailers on Robben Island, the prison where he was held for 27 years."

Dash and Lilly (5/31, 7pm, 9pm, & 11pm, A&E), an A&E original movie, provided no preview tapes, but with Kathy Bates directing Sam Shepard as Dashiell Hammett, Judy Davis as Lillian Hellman, and Bebe Neuwirth as Dorothy Parker, I'm willing to stick my neck out. Dash and Lilly follows the tumultuous affair between two literary titans that spanned 30 years through Prohibition, World War II, and McCarthyism. Hammett found success as the author of novels made into films The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man. Hellman won acclaim for her plays (also made into films) The Little Foxes and The Children's Hour. Though their professional lives seemed charmed, their personal and private lives were all but serene as they "battle personal demons, literary triumphs, numerous infidelities, and the bittersweet price of Broadway and Hollywood success."

Take a station break at TVEye@auschron.com

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Phantom Menace, Cannes Film Festival, Season Finales, The X-files, Will & Grace, Dash And Lilly, The Long Walk Of Nelson Mandela, Roger Ebert, Independent Film Channel, Bravo, E! Goes To Cannes, Stars Under Palms, Tv, T.v., Television, Channels, Channel Surfing, Stations, Network, Margaret Moser

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