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May 25 2010

(SPOILER) Entertainment Weekly's Top 20 Series Finales of All Time. Buffy comes in at #9. Spoilers for other shows.

It's insulting to my intelligence that Lost is on that list. It does not belong.

Newhart, however, truly is the BEST series finale EVER.
The Lost finale was brilliant, it made me cry like a baby.

Hm, Chosen was a good episode but I wouldn't call it a good series finale.
I believe it belongs on the list. I really loved that episode (and I wasn't expecting to after the disaster Across the Sea)...
I also loved the LOST finale and thinks it deserves to be on the list. Newhart definitely deserves that #1 spot though! And Vampmogs, I also was crying like a baby - a lot - throughout the entire show!
Oh, I'm so happy that BSG made the list. The others who actually like the finale are finally coming out of the bomb shelters now that the hate has died down a little. xD

Also great to see TNG, and Buffy of course. :)
Didn't care for the end of Seinfeld, BSG or LOST, however, 6 Feet Under, M.A.S.H. and The Wire were finale master classes. I liked Chosen a lot, but didn't love it, I think it needed 2 hours. EW always manages to sneak a Whedony thing in on every list they do.
Someday the Angel finale will appear on one of these lists and, on that day, I will probably be the author of said list.
they all seem really old.
I only watched BUffy and BSG. some of the others I got bored along the way.
Vague 'emotion' shouldn't be a crutch for poor storytelling. I too believe that it's insulting that Lost is on this list, especially when rated higher than the likes of Buffy, Six Feet Under and The Shield. THE SHIELD! I just think EW is trying to justify all the years and millions of words spent on the show.

(By the way, Buffy shouldn't be on the list, Angel should.)
Although I, too wished it would have been able to have been two hours as it certainly deserved to be (as did the finale of "Angel")), I absolutely love "Chosen" and it would certainly be in my top three favorite/best series finales (along with "Angel," unsurprisingly).
Lost: "we dare you not to cry". I almost cried because it was so bad.
Do I need to add IMO? Probably, since this will most likely be a love it or hate it thing. I was so disappointed, I haven't even bothered to check reaction on other boards.

Always good to see Chosen on these lists, and I agree that NFA should be there also.
The other glaring omission is B5.

Can't fathom the love for most of the shows at the very top. All my favorites (shows and finales)were in the bottom tier: The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet under and my still and possibly always #1, BSG.
Riker -

Is it possible that people having a different opinion to you isn't insulting your intelligence, but simply having their own opinion? Some of us manage to find the Lost finale endlessly complex, interesting and entertaining, and some of us may even aspire to your lofty levels of intellect.
I loved the end of Lost.

I'd put the end of Deep Space Nine over Next Gen, and wish there were British shows to add Ashes to Ashes.

[ edited by redeem147 on 2010-05-25 15:29 ]
Bobathin, I completely agree with you. I adored the BSG finale!
It's an insult to my intelligence that folks think their opinion is the only one that matters. Lost was brilliant. Upon further thought, it works even better. There are some very subtle moments in the final episodes that really make you think in a different way about all of the characters, especially Jacob.
I can only conclude these lists must be subjective. I would've expected Angel's finale to be higher on the list than Buffy's. I suspect this is more a list of well-known TV shows with good finales, and a chance to publicize Lost's ending.

The thing I liked least about the Lost finale was how many people eagerly told me how much it sucked.
You know what I loved about Lost? The attention to detail. The respect and credit they give viewers.

Case in point, in the opening scene of the sideways universe, on Oceanic Flight 815, the turbulence passes without crash, and Jack grips his chair.

Rose looks across and says "you can let go now". And there it is.
Andy, parallelism is nothing new in fiction, not even in television, so although I sometimes think touches like that are nice (I did like Jack dying where he'd originally woken up on the island), complete with Vincent sauntering over to him (although this time staying instead of running away, awww--however obvious a move it may be to manipulate the viewers' emotions with cute dogs ensuring the hero doesn't die alone, that's one bit of schmaltz/happy-fuzzy-bullshit I bought in the finale. I bought all the character resolutions/moments too, I mean they're still true regardless, but when it all turned out to be purgatory it kinda overshadowed the meaningfulness of them potentially all getting a second chance at living, grrr)...

I dunno. The writers getting cute with the symbolism does not redeem the lazier parts of the finale. Fuck it, I'm just gonna copy/paste from what a few others have said, who've said it better than I did. It's all IMO/in their opinion, of course. If the finale worked for you, beautiful, I'm happy for you. I'm not bitter anymore, I enjoyed the hell out of almost everything preceding the finale.

"Emotionally that ending was very satisfying to me, intellectually not so much. This series always worked on 2 levels for me - the emotional investment in these characters, and the intellectual charge of puzzling over all the mysteries. The finale was basically a big wet sloppy kiss for fans of the former but a big F-U to fans of the latter; disrespect to the fan base on the writers' part, in my opinion, because I'd venture to guess most fans were engaged by both parts of the show."

[my note: apparently not. Given all the opinions I've witnessed all over the internet, most viewers seemed to be only too happy to let go of or not obsess over the largely unexplained/unexplored mythology and questions about certain absent characters in the finale and final season in favor of giving in to the fuzzy of everyone getting a happy ending and heaven being the final destination. So I think it was a large assumption on mine and this guy's part that folks were enjoying the show for 50/50 of the elements it had to offer]

[this next one's a little meaner/borderline vitriolic, but it's not so far away from how I felt a day after the finale while thinking about it within the larger context of the series some more]
---------
"They drew me in with logic and philosophy and psychology, quantum theory, time/space loops and other fantastically interesting ideas and ended up pandering to the lowest common denominator - the spiritual/religious crowd who wallow in hackenyed religious allegory [my only interjection here is--it could've been both, if only the final destination hadn't been purgatory/afterlife and they'd kept the religious references/influences a lot more vague]. Six years of intellectual debate down the drain. It's like finishing off a five star meal with a big mac. [my emphasis/how I felt]

I'm glad it satisfied all the unicorn sweatshirted cat ladies, whose most favorite cutest couple had kissies with their one true love in the magic church in front of Jesus and Buddha and L. Ron Hubbard, but it left the thinkers a bit queasy."
Kris,

I wasn't claiming parellelism to be new, and indeed, I wasn't even referencing that specifically. The posts you have reproduced are somewhat unintelligent (I won't assume the posters themselves are, that would be presumptuous) "Unicorn shirted cat-ladies" as opposed to "thinkers"?. It's a revealingly obtuse approach, to demean others for appreciating what you do not. As someone who studies philosophy I can tell you that there was much for this thinker to examine, and I shall be doing so for a long time to come, no doubt.

I was simply pointing out that just with the rest of the show, the writers left deliberate bread crumbs with which to specualte early doors. "You can let go now" we now know to be the first thing Jack heard after he died. To boot, it was the key to his character. Jack cannot let go. He is a fixer, and for much of his life, tragically so.

THIS is what Lost is about. The analysis of human nature told with the back drop of a supernatural phenomenon.

As to the charge that it was just one big wet kiss, I really think, ironically, people are not reading enough into the end. There are stark and fascinating questions posed as to the metaphysical reality of being "dead". About consciousness and it's role in death, about the way we see ourselves, and how others see us. There is a philisophical bath for us all to jump into and it's entirely consistent with the show's approach from day one. In one universe, Desmond is enlightened, in the other, Desmond is desperate for a reboot. Their souls communicating, but not understanding one another. This is the stuff great philosophy is built on. This is also what quantum physicists talk about when they talk about string theory.

There is so much to mine from this show, and the questions that it asks are much weightier and more interesting than "Why does the statue have three toes". I think to focus so unwaveringly on such mysteries, which are ultimately plot points, is akin to reading The Lion, The Which and the Wardrobe, and obsessing over WHY is Narnia magic, WHY is there a world in a wardrobe, as opposed to the real examination of religion, childhood, war, and survival.

In other words, the people who wrote these posts are doing themselves a disservice by dismissing this ending as "a big wet kiss" or "a big mac", but they are entitled to their interpretations, as the show demands. However, communicating in such insipid and unimaginitve ways doesn't help their thesis that their intellect was underserved.

Quite the opposite.

[ edited by Andy Dufresne on 2010-05-26 10:10 ]
Kris, your post summarized exactly how I felt about the finale. I, too, cannot believe there aren't more people upset that they didn't resolve any of the mysteries.

And I definitely, definitely agree that the finale was a big raised middle finger to the fans invested in the mysteries.
I went into the Lost-finale not expecting to get much resolved on most of the open-ended mysteries that were still left dangling. The narrative this season was focussed on the flash-sideways and the battle with MIB and there was just no way, as we drew ever nearer the end, that the show could have resolved all the stuff left hanging (as there's still a lot of unanswered questions).

What's surprising to me, then, is that the angry reactions I've been reading are focussing on the finale not giving much in the way of extra clarity, as it was quite obvious from the get go that that was going to be the case (if not sooner, then certainly after the Jacob/MIB flashback episode - the worst episode of Lost I've ever seen, by the way - failed to answer anything significant. If there was ever an episode that was going to lift the ambiguity, it would've been that one, after all).

I agree that it sucks that we never got to find out what 'the light' was, or why 'the numbers' had magic powers, what was up with Walt, who the heck those guys were shooting at the losties in canoes, why the statue had three toes, what was up with all the hieroglyphics everywhere or why it was so important that Claire raise her son by herself - to name but a small number of the many questions left open.

But to be honest: I had always expected Lost to not answer many of these. And by the time the finale came around, it was pretty much impossible to give a satisfying close to the narrative of the season and cram in all this extra information.

So - to me - all of this is a 'failing' in Lost itself: it looked like a mystery show, with puzzles and clues (and amped that appearance by playing to an active, online, puzzle-solving, detail watching fanbase), where it was always a more ambivalent 'the question is more interesting than the answer', Lynchian Twin Peaks kind of experience. Which is also fine, by the way, it just means it was mostly misrepresented (although, reading between the lines of the interviews with the writers along the way - seeing them easily dismiss that they were ever going to really answer the numbers, or what the heck the island was - it was always pretty clear it was the latter instead of the former).

Overall, though, I really enjoyed the show - despite the lack of answers. I always loved the puzzle most when theorizing and trying to come up with answers myself, while the few answers we got tended to disappoint. I - for instance - hated how they turned MIB into a rebellious teenager and Jacob into a boy still seeking his "mother"'s approval, in one single episode, and loved it way more when they were these nearly metaphorical representations of 'good' and 'evil' - I also really disliked how they made MIB the most sympathetic (and possibly even least evil) character in that episode, while - from the rest of the series - we were clearly supposed to believe he was evil. But that's another point entirely.

Which brings us to the finale itself. Like I said: the lack of answers to many of the questions could hardly have come as a surprise. So what we are left with is - like others have pointed out - a wonderful (if slightly sugary) close to the different characters arcs, even if that close itself also suffers from some errors/plot holes/raised questions, like: wasn't Nadia Sayid's true love, instead of Shannon? Or: where the heck are people like Echo? And: if this was their collective gathering place before moving on, then what the heck were 'evil' guys like Keamy doing there? Were they just window dressing?

Still though, I thoroughly enjoyed all the reunions and liked how they closed off the character arcs. I also dug the resolution of the flash sideways and the resolution of this season's island arc. The episode did a good job of closing off the narrative and overall it was an emotion filled, exciting episode which was in line with most of what had gone before on this show.

So my only gripe - the lack of answers - isn't really with the finale at all, but with the show (and certainly with this season, as the realization of the let down of not having our questions answered came much earlier than the finale).

All in all, I feel that Lost was a great show, with moments cool enough to be remembered in television history for ever; even if the plotting and character progression was sometimes spotty and even if it raised much more questions than it ever answered.

Farewell, Lost, I'll miss thee :).
"I'm glad it satisfied all the unicorn sweatshirted cat ladies, whose most favorite cutest couple had kissies with their one true love in the magic church in front of Jesus and Buddha and L. Ron Hubbard, but it left the thinkers a bit queasy."

Now, I know that's a quote. But... really? Offensive, pretentious, and wrong. I consider myself a thinker. Hell, I'm even a bit pretentious about it, but I try to keep that more toward myself. Just because some folks either didn't get or didn't dig the finale on an intellectual level doesn't mean that they're thinkers and the ones who did are saps.

I've seen the vast majority of the people who didn't like it summing up their reactions with a "My intelligence is insulted" or "I'm smarter than the people who did like it, so there's that" sort of response, while a lot of the folks who loved it seem to understand why other viewers have issues with it. I, for one, understand some of the issues. I'll never understand why people care who built a statue and why, as it has absolutely no significance to the narrative or to the characters except to add to the mysterious intrigue of the island (which it does), but I do sympathize with the people who watched Lost for answers to the questions.

I watched it for the characters, the funny, the intellectual stimulation, and because it's damn fun. I was completely satisfied. I'm sorry some weren't. I'm even sorrier that they think they're smarter than me because our differing outlooks on Lost, because--ready for the aforementioned pretentiousness?--I'm decently sure that they're not.

[ edited by patxshand on 2010-05-26 23:22 ]
Andy said:
"I think to focus so unwaveringly on such mysteries, which are ultimately plot points, is akin to reading The Lion, The Which and the Wardrobe, and obsessing over WHY is Narnia magic, WHY is there a world in a wardrobe, as opposed to the real examination of religion, childhood, war, and survival."

Don't think that's an apt comparison. In The Chronicles of Narnia, magic is just a fact of the story's fabric from the getgo. The question of why the Wardrobe acts as a portal to Narnia is explained within the other Narnia books (there're many portals/ways to reach Narnia and as far as the wardrobe is concerned, it was built out of wood from a Narnian tree and therefore has a connection to that world. C.S. Lewis never questioned these things in his narrative. The Lost writers did, they even had characters bring them up, puzzle over them occasionally (not nearly enough or as much as believable characters should), and ultimately go "huh" to most of them. If you're gonna make these questions seem important or relevant to the audience, it's reasonable to expect that a portion of your audience will be awaiting answers to at least some of the big ones.

"THIS is what Lost is about. The analysis of human nature told with the back drop of a supernatural phenomenon."

If you and the creators say so. I guess the beauty of it is that you can insert the usual maxim about a work of art here (I don't now it verbatim, sorry). We all look at the painting/TV show/movie/novel and we all come back with different interpretations/impressions. I saw the supernatural phenomenon/island storyline as being at the forefront of Lost. And so were the characters. They were interwoven and interdependant on eachother, they made eachother feel important within the context of the story. ie, "I care about watching this show and these characters because they're not just on a regular old island, this isn't just a serious take on Gilligan's Island or a scripted take on Survivor. I care about the weirdness and the mysteries because the characters experiencing and discovering them are compelling and it's fun/interesting to see how the strangeness effects everyone and the challenges they provide--and hopefully, eventually, the seeking of answers". Even JJ Abrams saw the need for the weirdness when ABC pursued him to develop the idea of Lost that had already been pitched. They wanted Survivor meets Castaway, but Abrams said, "okay, but if I'm gonna come on board and do this, this can't just be a normal island". The writer of the pilot saw the importance of these elements and, although he didn't stick with the show and it fast became Cuse and Lindelof's baby, I agree with his initial assessment--or at least, insistence regarding the conception and lasting element--of the series, that the strangeness was important too. If Abrams had stuck around, I wonder if we would've received a much different ending.

GVH said:
"I agree that it sucks that we never got to find out what 'the light' was"

It might've worked better/felt less hackneyed if they better explained exactly what that light was and what the stakes were for the Mother's claim that, "if it goes out here, it goes out everywhere/in everyone". Also, if they definitively tied it into the long-established electromagnetic energy deep inside the island (they didn't even offer a line pointing us in that direction, but it's not a bad assumption given the Mother's claim that men would always come, dig, and try to exploit the Light/Heart of the Island--same as the Dharma Iniative drilled into the earth to tap into the electromagnetic energy at the site of the Hatch/Swan Station). The show just did a total about-face on this plot point in the third-last episode of the series and I didn't appreciate the late-addition jerk-around. You don't have to foreshadow or pre-introduce everything, some surprises are great for the finale, but something that big and important, you gotta make it feel like it fits with the overall series and introduce the viewer to it a lot more organically than was accomplished on Lost.

"or why 'the numbers' had magic powers"

There's an awesome, completely in-show-feeling, fan-made explanation for some aspects of the numbers and their effect on people/events (I'll search out the link for anyone who's curious). It would've been a beautiful thing to've seen it integrated into the series even just a little bit ('cause we can't expect a big math lesson/giant expository monologues, doesn't often make for great television), but the show abandoned any pretense of giving semi-scientific answers and hints this season.

"what was up with Walt"

Seriously, show. Way to tease us by bringing Michael back this season and using him for a throwaway explanation to the whispers (fine with the whispers being dead people, but Hurley's, "Oh hey guys, I think I know what these are" was as casual and unintelligent/non-fascinating a way of solving that mystery as was the Adam & Eve skeletons--they had a perfect chance to make the skeletons a more poignant/season-connecting reveal last season when folks were flashing through time), then not even featuring Walt in the finale (the lame excuse that some viewers are offering to cover for the writers is that the actor had grown too big. Malcolm David Kelly was 12 when he was playing 10-year-old Walt in 2004, then 16 while playing 13-year-old Walt last season when Locke went around visiting all the people he could potentially recruit to go back on the Ajira flight. It wouldn't have been that much more of a stretch for the 17/18-year old actor to have returned to play the 13/14-year old Walt again, I knew plenty of dudes in grade and highschool who looked like adults and were as tall/filled out as them by that point).

"who the heck those guys were shooting at the losties in canoes"

I was prepared to not have that one answered for sure because Cuse and Lindelof said it wouldn't be touched in an interview a couple weeks ago. There were plenty of opportunities for it to have been answered, even just casually (when Zoe and Widmore came over to the mainland after escaping Hydra Island, after Sayid turned off the sonic fences for NotLocke...or when Locke was returning from it...any number of times when there was boating back and forth between the larger and smaller islands. On a character level, it even could've added extra poignancy for Sawyer or someone else, because Juliet managed to connect with one of her shots and took out someone far off in the distance during her and her group's flash to 2007, it could've been a random Widmore lackey who'd been shooting/pursuing one of her friends or current-time Sawyer, showing that he always had his back even beyond death/in criss-crossed timeline, in a sense). That was a horrible run-on sentence, sorry.

"why the statue had three toes"

It was four toes and I'm kinda okay with this, because the full statue turned out to be not in the image of a human. Egyptian gods don't necessarily need to have five toes and, as was apparent in the photos some folks linked to of this goddess of rebirth, Tawaret, she apparently didn't (judging by the relics/figurines/hieroglyphics left behind of her). So there was nothing about the island's past housing four-toed humans at any point.

I'm okay with them not touching on the Egyptian influences (hieroglyphics all over the place, from the Temple walls to the Dharma stations--not sure why Dharma would care to adorn their walls with a language they'd have no use for--heck, even hieroglyphics on the Light's cork, which begs the question of how any of the Egyptians made it down there without dying, unless there's been other Desmond-types of people in the past). It was enough to show us that Latin-speaking, likely Roman people landed that in 1 AD, another ship arriving when Jacob and Smoke Monster were having their discussion on the beach (the first time we saw them, in last season's finale), and the Black Rock, Rousseau's science team vessel, and Oceanic 815 showing that, one way or another, people crash-landed there lots over the centuries.

What the Egyptian goddess statue does further highlight though is the show's abandonment of exploring why pregnant women couldn't get pregnant on the island post-1970s. It was a triumph for Juliet that she discovered she was able to deliver Amy (Horace's wife) Goodspeed's baby (Ethan) in the 1970s, but it only made some viewers more curious. Now that we knew babies conceived and born on the island could survive prior to 1977 (at the very least), plus these pregnancies didn't kill the mothers in their third trimester the same as we'd seen and been told (an issue The Others struggled with), we wanted to know what did cause the deaths. Was it "The Incident" ? The fatal gas released by Richard, Ben, and The Others to kill off the on-island Dharma members ? Not even a hint toward this answer, which is a huge slap in the face when concerning a mystery the show concerned itself with for at least the first three seasons, touching on it again in Season 4 (with the urgency to get Sun off the island) and 5 (Juliet delivering a baby).

patxshand, why was it so offensive ? It's gotten really hard (and obviously that quoted guy has gotten to this point as well) to always play diplomatically and always handle with kid gloves when discussing religions and the people who put stock in them. People who definitely believe in a supernatural entity, no matter how intelligent they are (and there've been many noted geniuses who also subscribed to a faith, that's well-known--Einstein, for starters), are still somehow playing with less than a full deck. Or they haven't thought about it enough to find themselves doubting it (this has nothing to do with IQ levels, even non-well-read people can question their faiths/abandon it in favor of reason/logic). Or, and I'm finding this more and more to be the main reason and you'd be hard-pressed to get many religious folks to admit it--they're justifiably scared shitless of death and/or what the meaning (or potential lack thereof) of life/existence would mean without an imaginary guiding hand involved in it. People hugging so close to their safety net...it's hard to come between them and their blankie.

I definitely would not claim to be smarter than anyone on this site or any of my fellow Lost viewers, but I feel that a heavy religious/spiritual-influenced conclusion to Lost undermined the otherwise intriguing/arguably intelligent whole of the series that came before.

Sorry if it sounds mean, but it's how I feel and what seems apparent from what I've observed about people so far. I wish Lost hadn't gone this route. I won't be checking out anything more from Cuse and Lindelof. They'll probably produce some incredible shows in the future, should they continue in television, but if they can't manage to finish without the schmaltz and they're willing to jettison or side-step years of build-up in regards to certain major aspects of their story in favor of an easy ending, I'm not willing to go through all that again (I know this sounds roughly equivalent to the common Internet-whinyness of "Fine, I'm leaving this site and I'm not coming back!", but there ya have it).
Um, it's offensive because the quote which you said you agree with explicitly states that "thinkers" will be left unsatisfied with the finale, while unicorn sweatshirted cat ladies would dig it. Though you go on to say that you "would not claim to be smarter than anyone on this site or any of my fellow Lost viewers," you... well, you kinda already did by way of agreeing with someone who said as much.

And sorry. Wrong.

I'm not quite sure why you think Lost = religion. Yes, it ended in a church. That was because the church was where the body of Christian--the catalyst for the awakening of the final Lostie--was.

And I don't believe in any religion. Used to, but I lost interest. I'm interested in people, and so is Lost. Lost's version of the afterlife has absolutely nothing to do with any established religion and can be looked at (I use "can" to be nice, because I'm not sure if there is any other way) as completely secular. I mean, how do they 'move on' to the next level of life? By connecting with each other. As humans. It's their human connection that serves as the stepping stone to whatever is next.

That sounds damn near humanist to me.

Also, naw, it doesn't sound mean. It's your opinion. I just don't really get how you arrived there, which, as you mentioned, happens with art.
but if they can't manage to finish without the schmaltz and they're willing to jettison or side-step years of build-up in regards to certain major aspects of their story in favor of an easy ending, I'm not willing to go through all that again.

Kris, this is exactly how I feel. I also can't help but think they're cackling at everyone who hated the finale.
Watch this video and you'll understand why most people absolutely hated the finale: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1936291
The Lost producers knew three years in advance when the show would end. They had the luxury of time. They could've explained the elaborate mysteries they created. Instead, we got what felt like a tacked-on ending. The ending of Lost was the equivalent of an ending one gives to a one- or two-year old show, to give a sense of closure and a happy ending because they were unable to totally wrap things up. But Lost COULD HAVE wrapped things up!! It's not like they found out in January 2010 that the show was ending in May. And that's what's so damn insulting about the ending.
Jack and co. going to heaven or whatever, that's totally fine. I'm not saying it should have been cut from the finale. But it shouldn't have come at the expense of dozens of unanswered questions that we were invested in.
There weren't any huge questions I was really invested in that weren't answered. Most of the stuff was hinted at and can/should be assumed. If everything is spelled out, where is the fun?

The one thing I wish they went into a bit more was the rules that the MIB/Smoke Monster lived by. That would have added to the intensity of the characters trying to stop him from what he was doing.
It's nice that you can be satisfied with so few questions answered, but the same can't be said for everyone. People like me are mad, and we have a right to be.
I don't get how "so few questions" were answered. What specific questions are making you mad? I mean, it can't be something as meaningless as the statue. Please, explain.

I mean, as I stated, I think they should have explored the rules the MIB lived by a bit more. Can't see anything else that needed explanation.

[ edited by patxshand on 2010-05-28 21:29 ]

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