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"American Crime" has rushed, dark finale; Manning's finale viewed as a classic

This is what I’m thinking:

American television viewers usually love happy endings, a theory that certainly was tested Sunday night by the series finale of PBS’ “Downton Abbey.”

Good lord, even poor Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) and much-maligned under butler Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier) found happiness.

If you are looking for the complete opposite, I suggest you tune in tonight to the season finale of ABC’s expertly-acted “American Crime” (10 p.m., Channel 7).

The series focused on the repercussions after an alleged rape of a male high school student by a basketball player at a prestigious private school that seems obsessed with saving its reputation rather than helping anyone.

The series, which has an incredible cast that includes Timothy Hutton as the overwhelmed father and basketball coach and Felicity Huffman as the manipulative head of school, only received a 10-episode order this season and the chances of its renewal for a third season are up in the air. I wouldn’t bet on it.

It has connected more with critics than with viewers, most likely because it is relentlessly depressing.

The finale tonight seems a little rushed as most of the stories involving parents trying to protect their vulnerable teen-age children are resolved. Don’t expect any happiness or complete closure.

Interestingly, the children seem more willing to accept responsibility than their parents.

If ABC cancels the series, its dark tone will primarily be responsible.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning already was in the conversation of greatest quarterback of all time. Now the debate is whether Manning’s retirement press conference is the greatest ever by an athlete.

It certainly appeared to be the favorite of Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” on Monday.

I highly recommend you head to You Tube to watch the 18-minute speech and some of the questions asked of Manning after he finished.

The most notable question came from a female sportswriter for USA Today, Lindsay Jones, who asked Manning to address the controversy surrounding a sexual assault allegation that occurred when he was in college.

Jones reportedly received some social media backlash for asking the question by people who don’t understand journalism.

The question had to be asked and Manning assuredly knew it probably was coming.

Jones deserved credit for bringing the uncomfortable issue up and she did it in a very smart, almost non-judgmental way.

You may recall I wrote last week that I thought for sure the hotel chain being sued by broadcaster Erin Andrews would realize her tearful testimony made her very sympathetic to the jury. I thought the chain would immediately ask its lawyers to try and negotiate a settlement in the $75 million lawsuit.

It didn’t and the jury awarded Andrews $55 million Monday to be paid by the hotel and the stalker who was given the room next to her in 2008 before he rigged a peep hole to film her nude.

The hotel’s lawyers apparently believed that jurors would realize that Andrews’ career wasn’t harmed since she moved from ESPN to Fox Sports. A network legal analyst also suggested over the weekend that jurors might think making $50,000 a year is a lot of money and they wouldn’t go for anything near $75 million.

It is hard to argue that Andrews’ career was hurt. She has done very well because she is very good at her job. But as ABC legal expert Dan Abrams said, she was saying her life was harmed by the embarrassment, not her career.

Andrews’ testimony and her explanation of the impact the secretly-recorded video has had on her life was so powerful that the $55 million award made perfect sense.

It is questionable about how much money she actually will receive. But she deserves every penny.

If I were the hotel chain, I’d forget appealing the verdict and negotiate a settlement that would allow Andrews to get money now rather than wait for what could take years for the appeal to be heard and decided.

apergament@buffnews.com

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