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A Discussion Of Heroes Not Clad In Orange Nike Spandex

I know it would seem that the alpha and omega of my day is Syracuse and its mediocre men's (and slightly-more entertaining women's) sports programs. But I swear, I do other things besides scour YouTube and set up Google News Alerts for Orinze Onuaku, I really do. One of those things is watch TV. I don't watch much, mind you. I can only really dig in to about 3-4 shows at a time. There's a couple shows out there like '24' and 'Battlestar Galactica' that I'm sure I would have loved had I gotten in early, but I didn't, and so I will not watch them (and no, I'm not going to rent the Season 1 DVD and watch all the episodes). Who has that kind of time? (My apologies if that time-haver is you)

So what do I watch? Sopranos, Heroes, Lost, The Office...and maybe a little Body of Evidence on CourtTV. You really don't know what you're missing if you're not following Dayle Hinman on her journey to rid the world (or at least it seems, Florida) of neer-do-wells.

For Heroes and Lost, this week marked the end of the year, Season 1 for the former and Season 3 for the latter. I've watched every episode of both (sometimes against my better judgment...I'm looking at you Lost) and I've spent way too much time online looking at theories and clues and promotions linked to both. Having watched the Heroes finale last night and getting ready for tomorrow's Lost finale, a strange comparison came to mind.
To be safe, let's throw out the SPOILERS AHEAD tag right now. If you don't want to know any details from last night's Heroes finale, stop reading, go watch it on DVR, and come back.

At the beginning of the season, Heroes came out of nowhere and exploded onto the TV scene. It was cool, it was refreshing and, god forbid, it seemed intent on answering the questions it posed. Most surprisingly, it stayed consistently entertaining all season long, never fading for very long. Perhaps the wisest decision they made was to create a mid-season "mini-finale" revolving around the saving of the cheerleader than then led to the saving of the world, so to speak.

The 2nd to last and next to last Heroes episodes were about as gripping as you could get this season. I love the fact that they have no problem answering the questions they ask and I especially love that they actually kill off characters on a relatively frequent basis (when it fits the story).

Not to say the show doesn't have faults. The writing, especially at the beginning of each episode, can be very expository and treat the audience like a group of dummies (which might not be wrong). The acting is spotty at best, especially in the case of Officer Parkman and Suresh. You're saving the world, people, you're telling me you can't give me honest emotion??? And of course there's the fact that, if Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Alan Moore ever turn on NBC, they'll realize that the specifics of their personal comic histories have all be conveniently parsed from and packaged just slightly different enough as to not alert the copyright authorities.
Still, overall the show is a solid B+ overall and an A for storytelling.

Which brings us to the finale. Is it me or...meh? After fifteen minutes of scenes that were basically rehashes of scenes we saw previously, we got about forty minutes of "how will they stop the explosion?" and then scenes from the next "series." It was like they couldn't wait to wrap up the explosion plot. The big battle seemed sloppy, everyone got a shot in but it never seemed to make sense. I guess you could say they don't know how to work together yet, so perhaps that could slide.

Lots of questions linger. Why didn't Peter just fly away himself? Since when can Sylar become invisible? Why did Hiro announce himself to Sylar and how did Sylar not have the time to stop Hiro put he stopped bullets from Parkman? Maybe I'm nitpicking, maybe not. But if the season was an A, the finale was a C+.

Tomorrow, Lost will get its chance to reclaim its spot as the best "Sci-Fi-Tinged Serial On Network Television," which is a technical term. Unlike Heroes, Lost's season could be summed up for the most part by the phrase, "Seriously, what the f*ck?"

The writers of Lost have been accused of many things this year...losing touch with their audience, adding unnecessary plotlines and characters, not answering questions while piling on new questions and basically undoing all the good will they had built up with the fans who stuck it out from the beginning. And you know what...all of those things are true in some sense.
Look, we'll never know what goes on behind the scenes. We'll never know what kind of pressure the writers have been under from ABC and sponsors to expand the story and stretch things out.

But seemingly in tandem with the announcement that Lost will go off the air in three years, the Lost writers seemed to be re-establishing that its all about the story from now on.
The last 1/3 of the season has been a return to glory, just about. the storytelling doesn't feel like filler, such as in the middle of the season with the Nikki/Pablo fiasco. The shocks are back...that feeling in the pit of your stomach at the end of the episode when you are genuinely bothered with what you just saw. Also back is the clock-watching...all this last month I have been keeping a close eye on the clock during episodes, making sure it's only 10:24 and there's lots of episode left. The ultimate sign that what you're watching is good.

Unfortunately, the writers need to figure out what to do with these flashbacks. Something tells me this will be remedied in a way in the finale, but if not, we need to be clear that the flashbacks have officially ceased to be important. Locke's flashback where we learned how he ended up in a wheelchair was the last necessary flashback for the Losties. Nothing else they show us is important enough to be worth viewing in any upcoming episodes.

All of that said, my prediction is that the Lost finale is going to blow the doors off our summers. Just like the "what's in the hatch" question posed by Season One's finale, we're about to watch an episode that will likely change the face of the show, kill off some important characters and reinvigorate a fanbase that is dying from disinterest and defection to Heroes and other shows.
The Heroes finale was so tame that it took a show we should have been talking about all summer and made it something we'll discuss in laid back conversations but not in a salivating I'd-maim-my-grandmother-to-see-a-sneak-peak-of-the-first-episode-of-season-two way. As for Lost, I truly think we are all going to want to maim our grandmothers for a look at Season 4. Grandmothers of the world, tremble in fear.

So I'm thinking about all this and it started to sound very familiar to me. On one side, there's a surprising hit that has been consistent all season long but faltered when it mattered most, making it something we'll remember fondly but not discuss all year long. On the other side, a hit that was much better in the two previous seasons and spent all season failing to live up to those expectations before stumbling into the home stretch, finding its stride again and ending with (as assumed) miraculous ending that reestablishes it as the main discussion for the rest of the year.

Heroes Season 1 vs. Lost Season 3 is playing out like the 2006 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals.

In closing, some final thoughts on both. Heroes: I'm intrigued for the "Generations" storyline but I hope the entire season isn't dedicated to the backstory and does include a continuation of what's going on in the present. Sylar is still alive (thankfully to many who was rooting for him to win last night since he's really the most interesting character on the show) and I totally expect the show to crib from X-Men 2 and have Sylar and the Heroes join forces in an uneasy alliance to defeat this "even badder guy" that the little girl mentioned.

Lost: We'll have to see what happens tomorrow before I make any predictions, but if you asked me which characters I could live without...Hurley, Charlie, Claire...and Sayid. But of course, three of those four have been re-established recently so they'll stick around, and Hurley's Hurley. Fact is, the Others are more interesting than the Losties right now, that needs to be remedied. Also, I can say with a 75% authority that this is exactly how the show will be resolved (don't read if you don't want your mind blown!)

Yes, the longest post in site history had absolutely nothing to do with Syracuse. It happens.