Jane Campion's Sundance mini-series "Top of the Lake" aired its final installment last week, and Beth Hanna of Thompson On Hollywood argued that it ended on "a beautiful note," making use of mise-en-scene to enhance (and foreshadow) the narrative, while Alan Sepinwall wrote for HitFix that the ambiguity "doesn't feel like a cheat." For the majority of critics writing about the show, the finale was an immensely satisfying conclusion.
"Certain episodes of television stand out not only within the course of a series, but within the course of a year. In 2012, it was the eleventh episode of 'Mad Men,' titled 'The Other Women.' This year, the finale of 'Top of the Lake' achieves that same skin-tingling, harshly heartbreaking, core-shaking status."
The biggest question, however, might be one that exists outside of the show:
"In two hours there must have been half-a-dozen chances to get 'a first look' at the forthcoming Rectify. If that is the only way Sundance can survive, it may deserve to be doomed. And maybe that conclusion can be applied to the entirety of 'Top of the Lake': Is it really worth making a show as ambitious as this if its best hope of being seen is the chopping block called Sundance?"
Whatever the answer to that question is, viewers are sad to see it go, and now that it's streaming on Netflix Instant, it will probably pick up many more supporters who are happy to see ambitious TV regardless of the medium. That said, it's a question worth asking: Was it better for "Top of the Lake" to unfold in episodic installments on Sundance if it is already on Netflix? Could it have gone the "House of Cards" route and given viewers the uninterrupted, all-at-once treat, and would that have been better for it? It's hard to say, but as Netflix (and Amazon) continue to put effort into original programming, it's not a question that will be going away anytime soon.
Also gone but not forgotten: "Central Park Five," the recent Ken Burns retrospective on Trisha Meili that aired on PBS last Tuesday. Meili was gruesomely raped in 1989, and five innocent boys were jailed for the crime, served between seven and 13 years later, and were then proven innocent when the real rapist confessed after being arrested for another rape."Central Park Five" is an intimate look at justice, focusing largely on the long, intimidating interrogations that led to false confessions and a law that allowed 14- and 15-year olds as adults if they were alongside a 16-year old. The Huffington Post called it a "must watch" doc and Austin Chronicle called it a "heartrending and compelling tale."
Next: "Game of Thrones" delivers again. Of course.