Wow, that was some thrilling season finale to

The Hills

, huh, kids?

On MTV's zeitgeisty reality show, Lauren cried (or maybe her contacts were giving her trouble), and Heidi left her boss in the lurch to flee Las Vegas with Spencer. (Did you see Heidi skulking down the casino escalator? Who takes that much luggage on a day trip?)

All that bad fake drama, plus you get The Hills' trademark sparkling dialogue, like Audrina complaining to Lauren, "I just . . . honestly, I've been just doing my own thing lately. I know sometimes when I'm talking to you, like, you'll ignore me. And I just feel, like, you're ignoring me because . . . whoa! So, I'm, like, you know."

I'm telling you, these kids are the new Algonquin Round Table.

Having interviewed The Hills' star Lauren Conrad, I can tell you, she's a lot sharper in real life. On the show, she's playing a role. All of them are - trying to act like grownups. And they have no idea how to go about it. So they posture and pout. (In Lauren's case, being an adult apparently involves walking around in a haze as if you've taken too much allergy medicine.)

After three seasons they still don't seem to get that the reason they get into all the fashionable L.A. clubs, the reason people want so desperately to be their friends, the reason they keep landing these cushy make-busy jobs isn't because they are God's chosen creatures. It's because of the MTV cameras that follow them everywhere.

I can't watch The Hills without thinking of the T.S. Eliot poem that begins: "We are the hollow men / We are the stuffed men / Leaning together / Headpiece filled with straw."

The fact that these superficial, spoiled, self-involved kids have become generational icons is really distressing. On to season four, like, you know?

Deeper meanings. If you find yourself longing for a pedantic analysis of The Sopranos, boy, has your ship come in.

This week, Fordham University is hosting an academic symposium, "The Sopranos: A Wake."

Among the topics: "Meadow Soprano and the Question of Familial Determinism in The Sopranos" and "Epistemology and Class Relations in The Sopranos".

Afterward, Paulie Walnuts will read selected passages from the work of Jacques Derrida.

In tune. Why do songs always resonate more powerfully on a soundtrack? Maybe the film or TV show adds emotional context.

Whatever the reason, the season finale of ABC's Brothers & Sisters had a sensational musical coda: a cover of Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home" by Canadian-based slide-guitar wizard Ellen McIlwaine.

The mixture of the song and the closing footage was absolutely haunting.

Bad boy. My favorite prime-time character is Chuck Bass (actor Ed Westwick), the nasty ne'er-do-well on the CW's Gossip Girl. He's like an Oscar Wilde fop transported to modern Manhattan.

They don't give Chuck nearly enough lines, but even when he's lounging in the background, he steals the show, suggesting a cross between Montgomery Clift and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy.

Talking a good game. Why do I watch SportsCenter on ESPN? It's not the highlights.

On a show this week, while narrating a meaningless game between Tampa Bay and the Angels, coanchor John Buccigross declared, "What Richard Butler is to Psychedelic Furs, Carl Crawford is to the Rays." Brilliant.

Later in the show, during footage of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo painfully bleating "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" over the PA system at Wrigley Field, Buccigross made a knowing joke about the difference in singing styles between sisters Jessica and Ashlee Simpson.

Game, set, match.

Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand at dhiltbrand@ phillynews.com or 215-854-4552. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/ daveondemand.