Lost returns even more fragmented than ever

by Paul William Tenny

lost.jpgSo the TV writers are starting to get all in a tizzy over the return of Lost next month on ABC. Can't say I agree, I missed the first season, watched the first quarter of the second season and was turned off by stagnant writing that really never rose above my own preconception of a boring drama set in a jungle. The flashbacks that everyone seemed so enthralled with were devistating to the narrative and did nothing but yank me out of the show and make me wish they'd pick one or the other.

They really did feel like cheats.

Anyway, when ABC decided to stop making full seasons, I figured it was a sign they had lost faith in the once massive hit, and that they were going to start winding it down once they realized it wasn't possible to keep their audience -- half of which they had lost by the third year. Fewer episodes per season, split across more years than it really should have been.

Sounds a lot like how they screwed up Battlestar Galactica, no?
I could probably like Lost if they weren't so hackish about it. I really did used to enjoy Battlestar, until it fell into the depression hole like Farscape did. Both series were outstanding and could have run so much longer, but the creators lost sight of moving the show forward and giving people something to love rather than something to mourn over every week.

Perhaps the Stargate franchise isn't of the same quality as either Lost or BSG, but across two series (two DVD movies and a rumored third series coming) and 11 straight years of being on the air, it brings something to the table these other two series could learn a thing or two about.

I happen to think Stargate could stand to explore its darker side more than it has, but not if it's going to cross the line to drama-for-dramas sake.

As you can tell I wasn't terribly impressed with Lost's huge ratings decline -- the second season premier brought in nearly 24 million viewers while the third seasons middle sagged to 11 million, allow even upstart Heroes to top it --
and thought it was probably time to give it one season to wrap things up and ship it off to DVD land. ABC seemingly agreed when they announced Lost was going to have a finite life of just three more years with a reduced run of sixteen episodes per season.

Though (predictably) many Lost fans disagree with me when I say it, this is really a result of Lost fading from the spotlight and ABC deciding to cancel it, albeit with some style.

Let's be completely clear on this -- TV shows that get good ratings do not go off the air regardless of what the series creator wants. The creator has no say in the matter, if the ratings are good, then the network is making money and it stays on the air even if the creator, writing staff, and entire cast walk away.

Don't believe it? Try watching E.R. sometime.

Lost is wrapping up because it has no future, and ABC knows it. I only wish Fox had half the good sense ABC does so they'd kill off Prison Break while I still have a few fond memories from the first season that haven't been completely wiped out by the two follow-up nightmares.

And for those who think a guaranteed order of there more "seasons" means you'll actually get three more "seasons" -- a typical season of television runs 22-24 episodes, not 16. Across its final three years, Lost will only have produced a number of episodes equal to that of practically any other drama in a span of two years time.

A fixed cancellation date and a 27% drop in episodes per year is not what I'd call faith or respect. Either renew it one season at a time based on ratings or cancel it, but don't play games.

That goes for Sci Fi and BSG as well.

Lost returns to ABC on January 31st with 8 new episodes.
in Television


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