*this article contains spoilers for the 800 Words finale that aired tonight. So read with caution*
Promos… Previews… Sneak Peeks… whatever you want to call them..
So there was once a show I absolutely loved, but fell slightly out of love with, through no fault of its own. Okay the show was partly to blame.
The blame mostly goes to television networks in general and their reliance of always showing final scenes of episodes in a promo. This is not a new thing, it has happened for years and years.
A number of years ago the now infamous ER Episode “Such Sweet Sorrow” aired. This was the episode that saw the departure of its original cast member Julianna Margulies. When she was leaving, one of the questions that were asked by the viewers was, would her character get her happy ending with Doug Ross (played by George Clooney)? (Spoiler alert: she does.)
The reason I mention this is, when Sherry Stringfield, another original ER cast member, first left the show, the network was able to promote the ending of her final episode. But when Julianna’s final regular episode aired, the network could not do this due to the ER producers keeping George’s cameo a secret from NBC until the night before the episode aired. So unknown to the promo department, Carol got her happy ending with Doug and for once it wasn’t spoiled by the promos. At the time, it was considered a masterstroke of how to keep a surprise in tact.
Fast forward to the present and here we have the 800 Words finale.
The second season had been a strong season, which consisted of Arlo falling in love for the first time and then having his heart broken by Emma. Shay finding a passion for art and forming a pretty solid relationship with Ike, until she started to partake in illegal art dealing. And then there was George, whom as his kids said, finally seemed happy for the first time since his wife’s death, when he embarked on a relationship with Fiona. All three of these relationships were crushed a few episodes before the finale aired. And that’s when the wheels of the show seemed to start becoming loose, but not falling off completely.
We saw Jan admitting that George was one of three potential fathers of her twins no less; Zac and Steve were the other contenders. George’s brother Terry made an appearance, took a scalp in Hannah by proposing to her and then leaving her to hang and dry. And then we have Robbie… At first his appearance made for interesting viewing, especially with how he treated his brother Monty badly. But after a while his actions became repetitive or maybe Jekyll and Hyde, be mean to Monty but act nice to Fiona, or as the viewer would say, another roadblock for George and Fiona.
So why did I start this piece discussing promos?
Here we have Channel Seven doing what they do best (granted they are not the only network who does this and usually their promos are fantastic), by pretty much spoiling the last five minutes of the finale in their sneak peek.
So after all of this how did the season end?
- We have Ike, Zac and Steve all potentially dead after Ike’s boat was found washed up on shore (spoiled by the finale promo).
- Terry doing a runner on the restaurant, mostly due to George’s scathing review, and leaving Hannah by herself on her birthday no less (spoiled by the finale promo).
- Tracey proposing to Woody (spoiled by multiple promos including the first 2017 promo).
- Jan’s waters break and she goes into labour (spoiled by the finale promo) but not before Big Mac asked her to move in with him.
- Robbie asking Fiona to give him another chance, right when she’s most vulnerable, which included finally selling their house; and Katie burning all the Dennis paintings, which means her and Billy must figure out how to survive in the next season (the only two things not spoiled by the promos).
But as I have put in brackets, if you had seen the sneak peek then there’s a good chance you were pretty much completely spoiled for the last five minutes of the finale.
George might have narrated the episode like he always does, but he did not have a lot of interactions with all the characters like he has in the past, and that is why I felt the finale lacked from its usual must-watch episodes in the past.
So where does it leave us for the show and what questions need to be answered in Series Three?
- Who survived the boat crash and who is the father(s) of Jan’s twins. Those two are at the top of the list of questions to be answered.
- Will Jan take up Big Mac’s offer to stay in Weld (yes please, I love their friendship, potential romance).
- Why did Woody react like he did after he said yes to Tracey’s proposal? Was it because he had a sense that the accident had occurred, since we saw the montage overlap there, or is it because he cannot get married because he is actually married already? After this season, I’m leaning towards the latter.
- Will Hannah become a cop like she said she might do in her phone conversation with Fiona? And if so, does that mean we can potentially see her on the beat with Constable Tom? (Hell, yeah.)
- What happens to the restaurant now that Terry is gone? Will Arlo, Lindsay, Jarrod and Billy be allowed to run it with possibly Big Mac’s blessing? And what will it mean to Fiona and the Boat Club?
- How will Katie be able to sustain an income now she doesn’t have her Dennis paintings anymore? And will it involve bringing Shay back into the fray now that she has burned her fake paintings too.
- And what will happen to Robbie? Surely after he money laundered, got drunk and drove drunk to Fiona’s place, he has breached his parole and will be sent back to jail. Terry knows he money laundered, while Fiona knows he was drunk and drove drunk to her place. But will she finally cut ties with him or take him up on his offer to have children with him?
- And finally, will George and Fiona find happiness (as he had implied in his monologues from when they got together, after the dinner party and removing roadblocks when they split up)? Or will he and Katie get together instead?
Whether we get any of those questions answered is totally up to The Powers That Be. But hopefully when the show returns, it will be back to the type of episodes that made us laugh and cry and didn’t make us question why we fell in love with the show in the first place.
But if there’s only one thing I can hope in this digital age, is that sneak peeks tease the viewers and not spoil them completely that it causes them to switch the channel or turn the television off completely instead.
- 10 episodes that remind you why ER was the top drama of the ‘90s by David Sims (AV Club, August 22 2012)
- Clooney Pulls Off ‘ER’ Surprise by Richard Huff (New York Daily News, May 12 2000)
- Sights and Sounds (courtesy of archive.org – February 21 2001)
- 800 Words – Seven Network Australia / South Pacific Pictures