Wednesday, May 09, 2007

'Lost' Is Finishing, Not Ending

By now you've heard the announcement from ABC that "Lost" will conclude in the 2009-10 season.

Some fans of the show are in a panic, and some critics point to declining ratings as a reason for the announcement. But the truth is, the show's creative staff have always said the show would end with a natural conclusion after roughly five seasons.

I see the announcement as good news. As much as I don't want to see the show leave, knowing how many episodes are left gives the writers a way to outline exactly how they will finish telling their story. There won't be any sort of "X-Files" dragging it out for yet another season, never answering the questions the show puts out there.

The only downside to the announcement is that ABC is giving the show an order of 16 episodes for the next three years, not the usual 22. The upside is that the network will air the episodes consecutively, so we won't have sit through a six-week gap while the network foists another "Daybreak" on us.

Meanwhile, rumors of "Lost's" demise have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, the show's ratings are down, but the Nielsens have found it's one of the most recorded shows on the air, which significantly alters the so-called audience loss that has been reported much of the year. Many of those viewers are simply recording the show on DVRs or VCRs and watching at their convenience.

Tonight's episode, entitled "The Man Behind The Curtain" (ABC, 10 p.m.) gives the origin story of Ben Linus (Michael Emerson), leader of The Others. For Emerson's thoughts on being part of the series, you can click on my interview with him, cleverly entitled Interview With Michael Emerson, on the right hand side of the page. Emerson's real-life wife, Macon actress Carrie Preston, appears in the flashback sequence as Emily, Ben's mother.

Speaking of renewals, NBC announced it is renewing "Medium" (NBC, 10 p.m.) for another year. Seriously, has anyone met anyone else who actually watches "Medium?" Just curious.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Perhaps "Lost's" ratings would be better if ABC didn't air sitcoms the likes of "According To Jim" and "Notes From The Underbelly" ahead of it. But hey, they're all new as well.

CBS counters with its all-new episodes of the ratings-challenged "Jericho" at 8 p.m., followed by "Criminal Minds" (another head-scratcher of a hit) and "CSI: NY," in which John McEnroe is supposedly a suspect, in case you believe the ads. I'm going out on a limb and guess he didn't do it.

NBC offers "Thank God You're Here" and "Crossing Jordan"; the former is a likely renewal candidate, the latter, not so much.

"Bones" continues a strong second half of its sophomore season with an episode that allows viewers to follow tonight's case online for clues. Check out "Bones" precedes the "American Idol" voting results show.

"Hustle" (AMC, 10 p.m.) is also all-new.


zodin2008 said...

I have 2 major problems with your post today, phillip, and it isn't even related to "24", though this past Monday was maybe one of my favorite episodes of the year...Milo bites it and Jack goes Bruce Willis on the Chinese. Ridiculous...fine. Completely entertaining for an hour? Check.

My first problem is your complete falsehood that the writers planned "all along" for the show to end after 5 years. Phillip, that is patently untrue and I will argue this until i am blue in the face.

It's only been within the last several months, less then 1 year, that this became a news item in entertainment sites. This has not been the plan since 2004 like you are wildly claiming. I don't mind your opinions, but please don't claim things that simply aren't true. And I know your incapable of admitting you're ever wrong so I expect you to retort. As usual.

My second problem with this post is that you have made a nasty remark about "Notes from the Underbelly", a show I know for a fact you have NEVER watched, and it's a show my wife & I have really enjoyed, and some critics in fact like.

The show's problem is definitely not writing or acting and it even has perpetual comedic scene stealer Rachel Harris in the supporting cast (like a blonde, caucasian Wanda Sykes) and the insanely gorgeous and likeable jessica Westfeldt ("Kissing Jessica Stein") in the lead role, the problem with the show is the network.

ABC simply can't launch good sitcoms (i.e. the brilliant "Sons & Daighters" which failed admirably last year) and to be completely fair, I don't think its ABC's fault.

They have actually made some solid sitcoms (though I stoppeed liking "Knights of Prosperity" after 1 episode) such as "Underbelly" and "Daughters" in 2006, but they are far & few between, and the ABC audience is patently unwilling to glom onto half hour shows on this channel. Basically, NBC has one successful night, CBS has one successful night and that's it for half hour comedies.

Sure, there is successful 1 hour Dramedies like "Betty", "Grey's" and "Housewives", but half hour shows simply do not have the environment or audience to grow for ABC. Had "Underbelly" gone to NBC or CBS, it would have had a better chance of survival.

Plus, as someone who's half of a married couple in the same situation as the main couple on "Underbelly", it's especially funny to my wife & I. Sometimes, things are funnier to some of us then others who are actually in those situations we can relate to for a particular show.

I would go a step further and argue some of the best, most underrated and ignored Television has been airing at 8 PM on Wednesdays this year. "Friday Night Lights" on NBC, "Bones" on FOX, "Jericho" on CBS and now "Underbelly" on ABC...they are all really good, entertaining and solid shows, none have great ratings.

In fact, of those 4 series, the only one safely renewed for next year is "Bones". Though I am at least hopeful that "Lights" has earned it's 2nd year stripes.

zodin2008 said...

One small correction:

I meant to say Jennifer Westfeldt as opposed to Jessica.

Phillip Ramati said...

If you enjoy Underbelly, more power to you. It's been ripped by plenty of critics and doesn't have much chance for renewal. I'd probably have given it more of a chance if it had been on another network, since ABC has a dismal record with sitcoms.

I've read since the show first started that Lost would have a definite end point. Maybe not exactly five years, but the producers have always stated they wouldn't keep dragging it out a' la The X-Files, so I don't know what your problem is. I'm sure I could find an article from that time that says so if I were so inclined.

And I never even mentioned 24 in today's post.

Jonathan said...

I back you up Phil. I remember reading from the beginning when Abrams was still heavily involved that they had at least a blueprint for "Lost", and I think I even remember them saying five years. It makes since that they would have at least had an initial five year plan because that's what most shows do due to syndication sales if and when you can reach that magical point.

Phillip Ramati said...

You are correct, Jonathan, most shows have a five year plan because it puts them past the magic number of 100 episodes, needed to have syndication success.

Obviously, the greatest challenge for a show is simply surviving, since most shows burn out and are yanked before their first season is over. When you have a major hit like Lost, the tendency by the network is to milk it to death, but the producers were pretty clear in the beginning that there was a definite finite number of episodes they were shooting for. Five years at 22 episodes per = 110 episodes, a perfect number for syndication. I believe the current plan has Lost ending at 108.

Anonymous said...

I remember hearing Lost would have a five season story line on a special feature of the season one DVD.

zodin2008 said...

I gladly take the minority position here and if that's what everyone heard, no problem. I am not necessarily saying they didn't have an idea it would end some day, but noweher in the midst of 2004 and 2005 was it ever talked about that "Lost" was definitely only going 5 years.

That aside, last night's episode was shocking and very entertaining though 'young' Ben sure looked a ton like a certain magical boy wizard...young Ben even had his Hermine on the Island.

I won't mention the 'Oh my God' moment at the end of the episode as it appears that the "Lost" producers are killing off one of the biggest characters and arguably their best.

While the fact that this particular character (and again, I won't say who it is to save anyone who hasn't watched it and has chosen to watch tonight) appears to have been killed off last night, I think it would be an enormous, enormous mistake to get rid of this actor from the show.

The character they appear to have killed off last night is possibly my favorite and many other people's favorite on the show and if "Lost" should learn anything from "24", don't kill off too many favorite characters in the middle of your run as it will bite you in the butt.

Phillip Ramati said...

A, The character you mention is dying, but not dead. In TV-world, a big difference. B, I never said it was definitely five years, I said the producers had a plan to end the show within five or six years - they definitely had an ending point in mind and weren't going to drag the show out just because ABC wanted them to.

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