TV: sometimes a decent ending is Lost

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 15th June 2010.

The long awaited finale to Lost has finally aired. After six brain busting seasons, dedicated Lost fans were decidedly mixed on the ending, which apparently closed many storylines, but not all. I say apparently, because I must admit that I have never seen a single second of Lost. Not because I don’t think I would enjoy it. I’m actually looking forward to starting on season one, episode one real soon. I’ve been avoiding Lost in fear that it would be axed without an ending.

As a fan of serialised television drama in general, there is nothing more gut wrenching than seeing your favourite characters disappear without a trace. After hours and hours of adventures, quests and trials and tribulations, the least a long running TV show owes its audience is a decent farewell.

The recent announcement of Flashforward and Heroes meeting their maker means that I can save myself the time and effort required to keep up with their convoluted mythology. With so many unresolved storylines, I can walk away from the mysterious blue hand markers and superpowered comic book characters knowing that I don’t have to care anymore that saving the cheerleader might also save the world.

Even more painful is when a series is cancelled on a cliff hanger. My Name is Earl concluded after four seasons with the words “To Be Continued” on the screen. Ouch!

Of course, great shows that only survived one season before getting the chop can still be enjoyed and mourned at the same time. Knowing that you only have fourteen or so episodes to spend with memorable characters can be a bittersweet experience but at least you haven’t outlaid hours of staring at the idiot box. The excellent but short-lived Joss Whedon show Firefly and Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks are well worth your time and do not end with cliff hangers.

A well written finale can be sad but truly satisfying. After eleven seasons and running longer than the actual Korean war, M*A*S*H bowed out with the superb two and a half hour Goodbye, Farewell and Amen. From its premiere in 1983 until it was surpassed by the 2010 Super Bowl, it was the most watched television broadcast in US history.

Star Trek: The Next Generation concluded with the well written All Good Things. Bringing back Q, the complicated villain from the very first episode, Captain Picard and crew came full circle in a series that actually may have surpassed the Shat-tastic original.

Seinfeld did something similar, except they brought back practically every memorable character from its nine season run. The final lines of the show are actually from the very first conversation of episode one. In nine years, nobody developed or learned anything. Perfect.

There have also been several clangers, which only served to kick sand in the face of their loyal fan bases.  Millennium, created by The X-Files’ Chris Carter, was axed in 1999, a year short of its namesake upon which its apocalyptic mythology was building towards. Can’t think of an ending? Just have the main character drive off into the distance in a yellow pickup truck. Thanks a lot Mr Carter!

Also frustrating was Quantum Leap’s finale. After 96 episodes of Dr Samuel Beckett leaping through time and rewriting history’s wrongs, fans hoped that “his final leap would be the leap home” as the opening narration of every episode reminded us. Of course, the final episode concluded with the words “Dr Sam Beckett never returned home”. Um, can I get those 96 hours back please?

Despite the volatility of the television marketplace, where ratings mean everything, I think all fans deserve the chance to say bon voyage or “till we meet again on DVD” to their favourite shows. Now if only I could find out how Doug Mulray’s Naughtiest Home Videos ended?


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Oh man, the Quantum Leap finale. AH! I shudder at the thought.

    I can’t say you’ll love the LOST finale but watching the series from beginning to end be well worth even the worst finale in history… it’s that good!

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