TV'S MEMORABLE PAST FINALES
BOSTON — A number of TV shows have captivated and surprised audiences with their finales. Here's a sampling:
* "The Fugitive": This adventure series, which started in September 1963, starred David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble. Kimble, a man who was wrongly convicted of killing his wife and sentenced to death, escaped from a train on his way to prison. He spent the next four years searching for the one-armed man who he believed murdered his wife. During this time he was pursued by the show's other character, a detective named Philip Gerard. In a two-part finale in August 1967, Kimble surrendered after learning the one-armed man had been captured. But the one-armed man escaped and was later shot by Gerard.
* "M.A.S.H.": The popular 11-year show focused on life at a mobile Army surgical hospital a few miles from the front in wartime Korea. In 1983, the show ended with a two-and-a-half-hour finale that was the most widely watched TV programs of all time. In it, the surgeons, nurses, and support crew folded their tents and shipped out for other roles.
* "Newhart": In this series that began in 1982, comedian Bob Newhart starred as Dick Loudon, an author of "how-to" books who moves to a Vermont village with his wife and becomes an innkeeper. The last show, in 1990, "became the classic, ironic finale which was sort of a play off `Dallas,' " explains Ron Simon, curator for the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City. Japanese businessmen buy the Vermont town and use it to build a large golf course. But Loudon refuses to sell, and his inn ends up i n the middle of the golf course. Five years later, when townspeople who had sold out to the Japanese return for a reunion, Loudon walks outside, is hit by a golf ball, and falls to the ground. In the next scene, he wakes up in bed as Chicago psychotherapist Bob Hartley, the character he played from 1972-78 on "The Bob Newhart Show." With him is his wife from that show, Emily, played by Suzanne Pleshette. He tells her he has had a terrible dream - the entire run of the "Newhart" series.