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Viewers hot and cold on looming season finales

Summer’s coming, and darn good thing! There’s still a chill in the air for viewers who in years past could count on their favorite dramas heating up as the end of the season approached.But this year? Brrrrrrr!Consider: Is the audience really hot for ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” where on Sunday Lynette (Felicity Huffman) got locked in a freezer (!) with her hunky restaurant employee?So w
/ Source: The Associated Press

Summer’s coming, and darn good thing! There’s still a chill in the air for viewers who in years past could count on their favorite dramas heating up as the end of the season approached.

But this year? Brrrrrrr!

Consider: Is the audience really hot for ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” where on Sunday Lynette (Felicity Huffman) got locked in a freezer (!) with her hunky restaurant employee?

So what if Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) is engaged to marry the town’s new mayor? And was anyone surprised that Susan (Teri Hatcher) is back with Mike the Plumber — after getting herself lost in the wilderness pursuing him?

Can events on Wisteria Lane raise the mercury by the season finale May 20? Or will late frost still be clinging to those manicured lawns?

Jack Bauer’s been busy trying to keep the country from going radioactive. But his crusade has received a cool reception from “24” viewers, who, sensing a familiar routine to this Fox thriller, are maybe wearied by nukes in the clutches of terrorists and the White House in the clutches of knaves.

The sixth season started promisingly, with counter-terrorist go-to guy Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) getting sprung from imprisonment and torture by Chinese officials. But on Monday’s episode, which was 21 hours into Bauer’s current day-from-hell, darned if the Chinese didn’t seize the ultra-secure CTU headquarters — putting Bauer (along with the rest of the free world) in further peril, with his own father playing a key role in the villainy.

Odds are the Chinese (and Dad) will be thwarted by Bauer during the May 21 season finale. But could it leave viewers feeling as burned-out as Jack?

NBC is hyping the May 16 finale for “Crossing Jordan” with an intriguing mishap: Sassy Boston medical examiner Jordan (Jill Hennessy) and her coroner cronies go down in a plane crash.

This would barely be worth noting (“Crossing Jordan” has never generated much sizzle) were it not such a missed opportunity: What if their plane ended up on the mysterious “Lost” island?

Why not? More scattered and elliptical than ever this season, ABC’s “Lost” seems to have an unlimited capacity for taxing its viewers with new characters and new plot twists.

Just recently, yet another intruder dropped in when her helicopter crashed. She brought a disturbing message: The entire wreckage of Oceanic Air Flight 815 had been found at the bottom of the ocean miles away, along with the bodies of all its passengers.

Huh? Many island dwellers on “Lost” from that doomed flight not only survived it, but, after three seasons, remain visibly alive. That is, with the possible exception of Locke (Terry O’Quinn), who, when last seen, wasn’t looking too lively.

Maybe the May 23 finale will shed needed light, if not heat, on the show’s burning issues. But, based on its tepid ratings lately, viewers may have begun to despair of ever finding out the whole truth. (The series’ conclusion, announced this week for 2010, is an awfully long time to wait.)

One series heats up

On the other hand, “Heroes,” in its first season, is cooking, and viewers will be hot to learn what happens on its finale May 21.

The bottom-line question seems simple: Will a large chunk of New York City go out with a bang, blown up by a human nuke?

That might be the only simple thing about “Heroes.” NBC’s mystic saga is packed with characters whose mission, alliances and fate seem in constant flux. These folks seem to have only one thing in common: wildly varying special powers.

A prime example is Claire the Cheerleader (Hayden Panettiere), who is physically indestructible. But can she (or anybody) ward off New York’s devastation?

And who, if anyone, will be the one who goes boom? Bad guy Sylar (Zachary Quinto), who has a habit of leeching powers from all the good guys? Or good guy Peter (Milo Ventimiglia), already haunted by a vision that “I wipe out this whole city” — and whose hands were glowing frightfully when he was last glimpsed?

Like its characters, “Heroes” is unfettered by time, space or other ordinary restraints. Fueled by freshness and imagination, it revels in its own pyrotechnic sense of privilege.

Where does that leave New York? Right now, up for grabs.

Meanwhile, across the river, time is running out for “The Sopranos.”

These days, the main heat associated with this HBO drama is the heat Tony and his fellow Jersey mobsters are packing. But even if, now, in its final season, “The Sopranos” isn’t the phenomenon it once was, the series conclusion should be a towering event.

Why? From the first episode in January 1999, Tony Soprano was a man with no way out. Since then, he’s been a father, husband and criminal living on borrowed time — time shared unforgettably with viewers. On June 10, time is up for this masterpiece. It ought to be a scorcher.