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The Magic Box: "Lost" Will Stick Around, But for How Long?

The castaways will make it off the island a little sooner, after all.

I've finally had a chance to digest the news that ABC will be announcing an endgame for Lost in the next week or so... and I think it's a good thing. After all, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have been clamouring for just that for some time now and, well, serialized dramas have been looking mighty anemic of late.

Just look at how far poor, bedeviled 24 has fallen. When he's not getting crushed by those Heroes, Jack Bauer's been getting his ass kicked by D-list celebrities on Dancing with the Stars. But those kids over at Heroes better not get too comfortable either; nearly 3 million less people tuned into NBC's drama when it returned with a fresh batch of sweeps-scented episodes recently. (Not to mention CBS's Jericho, which has been struggling, or the scads of dramas--like The Nine or Day Break or Kidnapped--which didn't even make it to 13 episodes.)


Lost has always been a series that was destined for cult success that, against all odds, found a foothold in the public consciousness. Damon, Carlton, and the entire gang of Lost writers have done a remarkable job of telling a multi-layered, complex story that is the closest thing we have to a modern Dickensian tale. But they've been undone by the fickleness of the TV viewing audience (looking, as they often do, for the instant gratification of a Heroes-sized plot twist rather than the slow burn) as well as poor scheduling decisions.

ABC should never have broken Lost's third season; the six-episode appetizer that aired last fall did nothing to engender the series to anyone and gave us a series of false starts before disappearing again. A January start (while frustrating as all hell, thanks to seven months of anticipation) makes much more sense for the series in terms of momentum. I'd rather have 22 episodes (or even less, as I've heard from several sources) of Lost in a row, even if it means holding out those extra months.

The same holds true for ending the series before it becomes another case of The X-Files. ABC seems to be hinting that Lost will end at the conclusion of Season Five, a perfect time to wrap up the adventures of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. (Shakespearean tragedies all do have five acts, after all.)

Lost
's writers now have time to structure the remaining episodes accordingly, plotting the reveals, new questions, and plot twists ahead of time and plan for a satisfying series finale... and lock in the series' actors to contracts that guarantee their participation accordingly. No John Doggett or Monica Reyes here, thank you very much.

ABC's upfront presentation is scheduled for May 15th, I'll be anxious to see just what the announcement for Season Four of Lost entails, including that possible reduced episode count and a shift to a new timeslot (most likely Wednesdays at 8 or 9 pm ET/PT). Either way, I know that I'll be there next season to find out what happens, just as I will be to see how Lost wraps itself up, even if it is the end of an era.

And if Lost doesn't return to the airwaves until January, I can think of worse launch dates than 1/08. One could imagine that Damon and Carlton--or at the very least, that freaky Dharma Initiative--would be pleased as punch about those lucky numbers.

UPDATE: ABC has announced that it has picked up Lost for 48 additional episodes which will be spread out over the next three seasons (16 episodes, per season) and run without interruption, allowing the series the opportunity to wrap up during the 2009-10 season. Additionally, Damon and Carlton have signed contracts that will keep them on Lost for the duration of the series.

"This is a bold and unprecedented move for ABC," said Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, in a prepared statement. "The show would not be what it is without the vision and support we've received from Steve McPherson, Mark Pedowitz and everyone at ABC and ABC TV Studios. We always envisioned Lost as a show with a beginning, middle and end. By officially announcing exactly when that ending will be, the audience will now have the security of knowing that the story will play out as we've intended."

"Lost" wraps its third season with a two-hour finale on May 23rd.

Comments

Anonymous said…
re: update -

Interesting!

But....starting in september w/16 eps, or January? TBD?
This is very good news. As much as I love "Lost" I think it's best for the show if they have a set end date so they can successfully wrap up storylines and give viewers a satisfying ending. In fact, I wish that more shows would do that.

British television is a master at keeping series short and, therefore, of the highest caliber. No matter how brilliant a show is, it can't go on forever. And I am sick of seeing my favorite shows get run into the ground or fizzle out ("Gilmore Girls," "Buffy," "Alias," cough, cough). It's much better this way and I think the show will only benefit from this decision.

I am surprised, though, that they are doing three short seasons rather than two regular seasons. That is a little odd. But at least Damon and Carlton will be around to see the whole thing through which is a very good thing.
The CineManiac said…
Personally I'm thrilled at this news. I have faith in Damon and Carlton and think that knowing exactly how long they have to do what they want will make the series that much better and each episode that much stronger.
Also as to the 16 episodes a season, Damon said this will allow him and Carlton extra time to make each episode better. It sounds like to me although they are making only 16 episodes a season they will be working the same amount of time as if it were a 22-24 episode season. These means that each episode gets that much more time to make everything perfect. Sounds good to me.
I'm just glad ABC stepped up and made this announcement since, as far as I'm aware, this is unprecedented and does feel more like a move from a British TV Executive.
Danielle I only disagree with you in one area - Buffy, although the 6th season wasn't anything to write home about, it had it's moments (Once More With Feeling & Tabula Rasa spring to mind) and Season 7 was a return to form with a great story arc to close the show, and an amazing two-part finale which brought closure to the show in many aspects while leaving it open to further adventures (like the current Season 8 comic - which is wonderful!)
Anonymous said…
I have seen comments elsewhere that the additional episodes were split over three seasons due to international deals. This seems to imply that money is the reason behind the move meaning ABC will make more selling an extra season...

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