Friday, November 10, 2006

Lost by the Network

After tonight, Lost will vanish from ABC for three months, appearing in February and running for an uninterrupted 17 weeks. If you add together the six episodes from the Fall (including tonight's) and the 17 in the spring, you see part of why the show seemed to be in reruns so often. With 23 episodes total trying to fill 52 weeks, something has to give. If you also figure in that they only ran the last few episodes once, you see why fans grew upset with ABC over the number of reruns.

ABC heard the complaints but got the wrong message. They now have an policy that says that only new episodes of Lost will be played. If you missed it or there are details you forgot, tough. You can buy the DVD or download it and play it on your PC.

This is not my ideal way of handling Lost. With heavy continuity and foreshadowing, some episodes gain from being shown more than once. The complaint comes when they show more reruns than new episodes or show an episode for the third time.

I am aware that Lost reruns do not have the same ratings as new episodes but they were never handled right.

My ideal season would be to run new episodes from late September or early October through mid-December with a possible break at Thanksgiving. After some preemptions for holiday specials, bowl games, etc. they would start up again in mid-January and show the rest of the season. Then they would play the season again, in order with the season-ending cliff-hanger playing just before the new season starts.

NBC gets it - at least so far. They have run Heroes unbroken since September. This is important with shows featuring heavy continuity like Lost and Heroes. If you play a half dozen episodes followed by eight reruns, people lose track of what is going on. It hurts the show.

On the other hand, if you have huge gaps between episodes then people lose interest.

I hope that ABC doesn't end up hurting Lost.

Something else that may hurt Lost is the focus on Kate, Sawyer, and Jack. Kate was edgy in the first season as the sweet-faced fugitive. That went nowhere in the second season. Sawyer is best as a supporting character. he is too annoying to be a lead, week after week.

So far we have not learned much about the Others. we learned more about them before the opening credits in the first episode of the season than we have learned since. In the meantime, the more interesting characters have gone starved for screen time.

Then there is the clumsy introduction of the new castaways. They were just suddenly there. We are supposed to think that they were always there, we just overlooked. them. This would be fine if they had emerged from some crowd scenes. Instead, they are hanging around with a small group of regulars. The producers could have spent less time on Sawyer and more time introducing the new folks.

Tonight's episode is supposed to change everything. We will see.

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