5 buzzworthy season finales (TV commentary)

It’s that time of year when summer movies start to steal the headlines from TV, but boob-tube fans have one last gasp, at least: The May season finales. Due to the evolving TV calendar, it’s not as jam-packed of a month as it used to be; “Parenthood,” “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” “Ringer” and “The Walking Dead” had their finales in previous months, while “The Killing” and “The L.A. Complex” will run well into the summer.

That mix of schedules is a good thing, but I also enjoy a little old-fashioned May season-finale buzz. Here are the five I’m most looking forward to (and as a bonus, it looks like all of these shows will return in the fall). To find out when your favorite show is wrapping its season, I recommend checking out TV.com’s calendar of season finales.

All times are Central.

“New Girl” (8 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox; season finale May 8) — The writers have played the Nick-and-Jess will-they-or-won’t-they relationship close to the vest, which I admire. Both have become interesting characters on their own, with Nick the 30-year-old underachieving bartender (bank tellers gather around and laugh at his shockingly low credit score) and Jess moving beyond the standard adorable and out-of-reach girl Zooey Deschanel usually plays. So ironically, this fast-improving sitcom doesn’t really need the Nick-and-Jess angle; however, like Luke-and-Lorelai, I wouldn’t mind if we get a big moment every season finale or so.

“Parks and Recreation” (7:30 p.m. Thursdays on NBC; season finale May 10) — This and “The Killing” are the only shows I know of doing an election storyline in this presidential election year, and the one on “Parks” is much funnier, with hilarious political faux pas such as Leslie’s bus crashing her opponent’s father’s funeral. To the show’s credit, they’ve made Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd) into a likable (if incredibly dumb) opponent for Leslie, and I’m not sure how the election will turn out. Will the show have Leslie lose, thus returning to the status quo of the parks office for Season 5, or will she win and become a member of the city council, thus opening up a new realm of humor? I’m leaning toward the latter.

CW

“The Secret Circle” (8 p.m. Thursdays on The CW; season finale May 10) — In the history of TV, there’s never before been such an extreme mix of strong acting and weak writing as we get every week on “The Secret Circle.” In addition to being good-looking, the six members of the circle are all played by talented actors; I think Shelley Hennig has been particularly strong lately. They even cast the great Joe Lando as Cassie’s villainous father who is using the circle ostensibly to fight the witch hunters, but really to create a crystal skull for his own means (generic, cackling evil, I assume). A few episodes ago, an interesting storyline found Cassie (Britt Robertson) still in love with Adam (Thomas Dekker) after an anti-love spell only affects him, but that’s been completely squandered. Hopefully, the plot can gain some focus in the finale, and some new blood will join the writing room for Season 2.

“Fringe” (8 p.m. Fridays on Fox; season finale May 11) — My view on “Fringe” has been the same for a while now: I don’t know precisely what’s going on, but I still enjoy watching it every week. I’m thrilled that it will be back for a final 13-episode season in the fall, but honestly the blockbuster mythology episodes — featuring main characters getting shot and supposedly dead characters popping up to menace our hero science team — are not my favorites. I actually think “Fringe” had it right out of the gates as an anthology about weird science. Fortunately, it still does enough of that to please me. And even if I think it’s overblown, the story of the bad guy (whether it’s Jones or Bell) trying to create his own universe by destroying the two existing ones is at least unpredictable, daring TV.

“Revenge” (9 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC; season finale May 23) — Studies and anecdotal evidence tell us that forgiveness is better than revenge. By seeking vengeance, you may or may not destroy your enemy, but you’re guaranteed to destroy yourself. Emily does not care about this, and that’s why it’s compelling to watch her not only try to take down the Grayson empire, but also to track down and kill the person who murdered her father in prison (it looks like he’ll be played by great character actor James Morrison, best known for “24”). Emily VanCamp is playing the role a little too conservatively for my tastes, but Emily’s friends will help illustrate this story, particularly Nolan, played fascinating scenery chewer Gabriel Mann.

What TV season finales are you most looking forward to? Share your thoughts below.