Over the past two weeks, primetime television has been a nonstop finale-fest. And three of the biggest (Lost, 24 and Law & Order) were not simply season finales, but the end of the line for a trio of celebrated shows.
Some confused and frustrated viewers; others went out on a high note. Some did both at the same time. (We mean you, Lost.)
In the process, some shows may have boosted their chances to land Emmy nominations, while others lost a little ground. So here's a guide to the three biggest finales -- who delivered, who fizzled, and who might find themselves on the stage of the Nokia Theatre in August.
If any show is going to get a de facto career-achievement Emmy this year, an award designed to recognize not just a television show but something with cultural impact, this'll be the one.
24 may have run for nine years to only six for Lost, but news crews weren't doing live broadcasts from final-episode viewing parties at big theaters in downtown Los Angeles. Law & Order may have aired 456 episodes to 121 for Lost, but it didn't get a supersized two-and-a-half hour finale, preceded by a two-hour curtain raiser to bring viewers up to speed.
And even if the ratings for the Lost finale showed that it is indeed a cult show rather than a mainstream phenomenon, that cult is big and bold and loud.
The finale, long on emotional flashbacks, wasn't universally acclaimed by critics: the New York Times called the episode "shaky on the big picture" and "largely a pleasant, nostalgic wallow for the show's fans," while the Los Angeles Times began this way: "Well, it could have been worse."