Since the beginning of this blog back in December (and what took you so long to find it?!) I haven't written one word about the one TV show that I watch every week.
Last fall, ABC's Lost had finished up an uneven, mediocre six week run. After two seasons of building up the respective back stories of roughly a dozen of the castaways, the first part of the third season force fed viewers almost entire hours on the overexposed trio of "Jack", "Kate" and "Sawyer".
The hardcore Lost lemmings defended the direction, like they do with everything on the show, but when it returned this past winter it was with slightly lower ratings and a sense that the once-runaway hit show had (insert obvious pun) its way.
Flash forward (HA!) to last month's season three finale and you'd think that the show had reclaimed its crown as the most unpredictable, can't miss program in prime time.
And, I'm inclined to agree.
That's not to say the show is anywhere near the vicinity of "perfect", but the last six months have been a fascinating exercise in manipulation, damage control and how to save a show that's adrift:
The EW Non-Apology - A couple of months ago, Lost Executive Producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly in which they essentially owned up to several of the primary gripes from fans (glacial plot pacing, the avalanche of still-unanswered questions and inconsistent character development, for example). The pair publicly pronounced that things would improve and cited episodic examples that "proved" they took the criticism seriously. Of course, the whole orchestrated tête-à-tête was a reactive attempt to recover the show's slight dip in ratings, instead of a proactive apology, but it kept the core fan base satiated until the show could regain momentum.
Paolo and Nikki - The "Exposé" episode where these two despised, newly-introduced characters met their demise was brilliant. On the other hand, their very introduction to the storyline was bilious and essentially forced the writers' hands to offer up a one-shot show to get rid of them. (The best part of all of this was watching all the Lost fans who can't constructively criticize anything on the show trying to retroactively admit that they never liked Paolo and Nikki in the first place.)
The Sycophantic Celebrity Blogs - TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly are two of the more popular media outlets that post weekly blogs on Lost. The authors LOVE every episode and watch breathlessly each week with all the emotional maturity of a room full of children. (Anyone over the age of 11 who still uses "OMG" should be shot. OK, flogged.) But, the Lost producers have used these bloggy blow jobs to manufacture a steady stream of positive press (bought n' paid for with the occasional "exclusive interview") even as viewers were jumping ship. No integrity in the media? Why are we just now learning this?!
The Leak - If you're reading this, then you probably know that the big "game changing" twist ending to the season finale was leaked about a week before the show actually aired. In a hilariously paranoid and self-righteous rant, Lost Executive Producer Damon Lindelof accused those who essentially "read ahead" of ruining the integrity of his work, "crossing a line" and, I think, for masterminding 9/11. Call me cynical, but this show has kept its cards close to the vest for almost its entire run and, all of a sudden, something this big gets out? Sorry, but not without help from the highest levels of the show. Can you think of a better way to get viewers back than to give up the reveal ahead of time? Insincere public denouncements notwithstanding, I'll always believe that ABC intentionally pulled back the curtain on this one, if only for a moment.
The Death - So, the "Charlie" character is killed off in the season finale. The producers have stated in subsequent interviews that Charlie's death is "proof" that even the "A-list" characters are vulnerable. Of course, it's a lie, but most Lost fans have blindly bought into it. First off, Charlie, at NO point in the show's three year run, was ever an "A-list" character. Here's your A-list: Jack, Kate, Sawyer and sometimes Locke. Charlie was part of the 3-man B-team (alongside Sayid and Hurley). Everyone else can be charitably described as C-teamers. Secondly, unless the writers get cute with the "flash forward" segments, there's NO way that Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Locke don't make it until the end. None. I guess I'm the only Lost fan who was pleased by Charlie's death solely on the basis that he's always been an annoying, one-note cliché who added little to the show.
Here's hoping the final three seasons are as entertainingly divisive as the first three.