Lost/Heroes: Finishing Strong
The mid 2000’s were chock full of geeky goodness on TV. The epic LOST premiering in 2004, and Heroes premiering in 2006. These shows had everything going for them. Ridiculously good ratings, firm network backings, and compelling stories. Lost had the return to TV of Matthew Fox, a hobbit fresh out of the Lord Of The Rings movies, and some of the best supporting cast ever. Heroes had a cast of fresh faces but a super ambitious story line, and one of my favorite comic writers ever, Jeph Loeb, guiding the show (this is the guy who did Batman: Hush, The Long Halloween, etc). Loeb is a master of crafting and pacing super hero mysteries, with the added bonus that one of the greatest comic book artists on earth, Tim Sale, was doing all the art/paintings in Heroes. These shows had everything going for them. They had amazing ratings, critical acclaim and a brilliant future to potentially be regarded as some of the greatest shows to ever touch a TV screen.
As both shows ended in 2010, this was not the case though. Lost’s ending was so vague, anti-climactic, and confusing that many people have just abandoned the notion they ever loved the show (I feel like I grasped it pretty well, but I know I’m in the minority). Heroes became so convoluted and poorly executed
that it never even properly ended, people just basically stopped caring. During its initial run I watched up through season 3 and then just never even started season 4 until it was streaming. Now not all of this is their fault. I will attribute at least a hiccup in the process to the writers’ strike of 07-08, but there were still a lot of just poor choices made. Were these shows still great? Absolutely. Lost was an amazing ambitious and innovative concept, Heroes paved the way for the flux of televised heroics we see now across the major networks.
They were not failures, they just ended poorly. Sadly how we end sometimes is all that is remembered regardless of how we began. Look at what we see in the Bible. Judas was handpicked to walk with Jesus. He served with Jesus for 3 years, just like the rest. Yet we all know his name, even if we can’t name the other 11. We know his name because he finished so poorly. Jonah was a renowned profit of God receiving messages from the Most High. He was hand delivered by God from the belly of a large fish and helped bring an entire city to repentance, yet his story ends with him throwing a tantrum because God has mercy. Moses was literally one of the most accomplished men in Biblical history- A hero of the faith. He lead God’s people from slavery, guided them through decades in the wilderness, yet missed out on the Promised Land he was leading the Children of Israel towards because of how he finished.
The pattern doesn’t just hold to prime time television and biblical patriarchs either. Look at the world around us. Every day we see icons, heroes, and public figures fall from grace. Even if they have been considered legend for decades, how they finish will determine how they are remembered. Adrian Peterson, Lance Armstrong, Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mariah Carey, Rob Bell, and a million others: we remember the outcomes, the records, the finishes. So maybe not just in our viewing habits, but in our day to day lives we need to live with the finish in mind.
A good show has the entire series at least roughly planned out at the very beginning so they can try to keep everything moving in the right direction and space it out correctly, but still have room to adjust as necessary. Sometimes shows get to the point they should bow out gracefully and walk away, but they stick around for money and ratings and completely forfeit their chance to end properly because they are so far off course. We’ve all seen shows that look like they never planned to make it to a second or third season as is evidenced by their writing. In our lives, sometimes we make choices this way. We make commitments to do things without considering whether or not we can follow through with them. We enter into relationships we should never be a part of or we waste resources and time we will drastically need later.
Here is what scripture teaches us, Luke 14:28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
If there is a good plan at the beginning, then there a much better chance of finishing well. It’s also important to realize that finishing well needs to be our goal. If we evaluate how situations will end, we may make better choices in what we begin.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
When you have someone in charge of a show that you trust, it’s a lot easier to know how it will be handled. I know that I can watch anything Joss Whedon makes and find amazing characters. I know I can watch something McG makes and it will be at the very least entertaining. Having people produce shows that you know are capable of not only creating good television, but also finishing it well is a big deal. NBC removed Jeph Loeb from Heroes, and I think that is one of their tragic mistakes. I think Loeb would have pulled it out in a fashion that would have lasted in the long run and had a satisfying payoff.
TV aside, I am thankful to have an author/producer/writer/director over our live that we can count on to ensure we will in fact not only finish, but finish well. Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
If Christ is our focus and we make our choices based on the direction we want to finish. Allow God to carry on the work He began in us, then we truly will finish well.