This was a satisfying Friday themeless puzzle. There were some very nice long answers, such as OKTOBERFEST (19A: Annual event held in the Theresienwiese), PLOTTWISTS (9D: Thickening agents?) (as in, "the plot thickens!"), FINISHLINE (28D: This is the end), KEEPITREAL (22A: Slangy goodby), and, of course, LEDZEPPELIN (46A: Their best-selling (23x platinum) album had no title), which I entered without crosses. There was a high entertainment value in many of the clues, too, as in 48A: Series of drug-related offenses? (THEWIRE), 28A: All hits all the time (FIGHT), 43A: Influential figure in upward mobility? (ELISHAOTIS), 30D: Tree huggers? (VINES), 26D: It has points of interest (LOAN), 1D: Start to play? (ACTONE), and, of course, 25D: Fictional corporation that made a jet-propelled unicycle (ACME). And that's just some of the good clues!
There was very little that raised our hackles. Maybe AEROS (44D: Planes, quaintly) wasn't the greatest, and sure, there were a few names we didn't know - FEHR (19D: N.H.L. players' representative Donald), JONI (34D: Iowa politico Ernst), YENTE (45D: Broadway character who sings "The Rumor"), and ELAM (24D: Land east of Babylonia) (above), but that's a failing on our part, not the puzzle's.
HIJINKS (32A: Tomfoolery) is a great word, SALTINE (41A: Square snack) brings back fond memories of chicken soup and childhood, and we appreciate the nod to our home town in 3D: Common ground? (BOSTON). Overall, this was a very good Friday.