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'Elsewhere's' End

June 11, 1988

After reading the rather pretentious musings of "St. Elsewhere" executive producer Bruce Paltrow and creative consultant Tom Fontana ("On Television, There's More Than One Way to Say Goodby," by Diane Haithman, May 26), my ambivalent feelings about the show's final episode ("The Last One") crystallized into an odd mixture of dismay and disbelief.

Fontana's assertion that "this was our acknowledgment that it was fiction," and Paltrow's similarly ponderous statement that the show "was metaphorical for us" and "has skipped around and gone in and out of existentialism, so we're choosing to go out in an existential way," was simply too much to bear.

Come on, guys. It was a television show.

Those of us who have watched the show faithfully for six years--savoring the inside jokes, marveling at the sensitive writing and emotionally powerful acting, expecting the best and consistently getting it--even we know that it was a TV show.

The ending itself was a profound disappointment, but hearing Fontana and Paltrow rationalize it in such lofty, inflated and turgid language was the greatest letdown of all.

It's too bad "The Last One" didn't quite measure up. All in all, though, it was a great six years.


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