I’ve been writing this column since my sophomore year, and it’s time to put an end to this tangent-stuffed nonsense. I’m glad I stuck with it this long, and I only received one e-mail calling me a sexist, but I’m done with this shit. It’s kind of like LBJ in ’68 … hopefully the past two years don’t cause me to have a heart attack in five. But I’m not going to bore you with a “farewell column” in December because I know no one’s interested in dealing with that brand of tomfoolery right now. (Plus, I guess I could have held on for one more semester, so I’m not really sure I deserve it anyway.) But it does seem like the proper time to bring up a topic I haven’t tackled in my two years as the Daily’s TV Columnist: the television finale.

Before I nerd-out here, I think some disambiguation is in order. (Yes, just like Wikipedia.) As far as I can tell, television shows end in one of three ways: 1. They go out on their own terms (e.g. “The Sopranos”). 2. They’re forced out but are able to wrap up the show in some way (e.g. “Freaks and Geeks”). 3. The show is abruptly canned (e.g. “Undeclared”). I’m not particularly interested in options two and three because even in case two, it’s generally some kind of haphazard ending that no one really intended. (I’m not going to write a thesis on “Let It Be” either.) But the proper finale is important because there’s really nothing like it in contemporary entertainment. A band’s last album isn’t always deemed so in advance, and even when it is, that sort of proclamation has to be taken with a grain of salt — especially if said artist happens to share a bed with Beyoncé. And film and book franchises can’t compare because the “finale” of even a substantial series is rarely more than one third of its totality, so those are basically non-entities as far as this column is concerned.

The problem with TV finales is that they’re rarely very good. Finales almost never capture a show at its peak; even shows that go out earlier than they had to generally wrap up a little too late, typically having acquired some bad habits. “Seinfeld” started relying on outlandish plotlines that weren’t true to the show’s original conception. “Arrested Development” was drowned in an insane amount of in-jokes, etc. It’s kind of like this column (I cannot give an adequate explanation for the proliferation of this parenthetical bullshit).

Which is why I’m not especially interested in finales that have already happened. (Well, almost. I need to touch on “The Seinfeld” finale. In short, it’s significantly better than it’s given credit for. It’s not easy to end a show where each episode was almost inconsequential to the entirety of the series. It was almost a cartoon in that sense. The most significant plot moment in the series was probably Susan’s death in season seven, and that was basically a non-event. But they found a way to actually end the show in a manner that made sense given the characters, and it was probably a better way to go than killing George off in a wreck. Plus they brought back Babu, which was nice.) But I am intrigued by two current shows, the finales of which will absolutely not live up to my expectations; although, only one of the conclusions actually matters.

I’ve heard “The Simpsons” is going to end one day, though I’m not sure I believe this. I don’t really care for the new episodes, but the day Groening and Co. close shop will be a rough day for me. I assume it will be kind of like losing the loyal pet that was around your whole life and finally passed away. (R.I.P. Mittens and Tiger.) But as far as I can tell, this show will not end until it has to, and Fox isn’t going to cancel “The Simpsons.” Ever. This is pretty morbid, but the series could very well continue until one of the voice actors dies. That’s kind of unheard of in television, but Groening has shown no signs of letting up, and Fox canceling “The Simpsons” would be like Disney deciding it’s tired of this whole Mickey Mouse business. And considering the show has been on the decline for at least 10 years, I’m not looking forward to having to internally review the last episode of “The Simpsons.” Maybe this 2012 apocalypse thing has legs.

Thankfully, a bad “Simpsons” finale will not tarnish the series for me and the show’s diehards. Actually, it’ll probably be kind of a bittersweet moment, and I’ll most likely have to fly across the country to watch it with my “Simpsons” buddies. We’ll sit shiva afterward. There will be a deli tray. It’ll be nice.

And the inconsequentiality of “The Simpsons” finale is not unusual in television. A terrible ending of a movie can ruin it, but anyone who thought six seasons of “The Sopranos” was ruined by a crappy finale is out of their mind. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to be able to say the same for “Lost.”

I always assumed “Lost” was a dumb show. Having watched four seasons of it in roughly three weeks, I can confidently say it is not dumb, but I don’t think I, or anyone else, is in a position to say whether or not it is smart. Essentially, the draw of the show is that the audience has very little idea of what’s going on. The downside is that when we do find out what’s been happening, it’s entirely likely that the explanation for what took place over the course of the previous six seasons will be wholly unsatisfying and make the entire show seem like a roundabout way of telling a bad story. It could make the series seem like a terrible waste of time. This kind of worries me.

But the “Lost” finale could also enhance the story, and really, this is what makes television a relevant and occasionally excellent form of entertainment. There’s nothing like the conclusion of a show you care about, whether it ended well or not. If you closely followed “Seinfeld,” “The Sopranos” or any other series that resonated with you, you absolutely remember where you were during the final episode. The ability of DVRs to shift time by offering shows around the clock may have chipped away at the communal nature of watching a finale or any show live, but the buildup to an anticipated program is unlike anything else in entertainment — except maybe a new “Star Wars” film or “Harry Potter” book, but those fanboys aren’t real people anyway. TV can be dumb and insulting and disappointing, but it can also be special. And pulling off a damn good ending is about as good as it gets.

I’m just glad this column didn’t have to satiate that kind of anticipation. Killing off George wasn’t even on the table for me.

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