Sci-Fi Fodder

Is "Lost" Losing Fans With Reruns?

The Boston Globe reported this week that fans of ABC's hit show "Lost" are losing interest in the show due to the number of repeats the network airs.

Since September, ABC has broadcast 10 repeats and 19 original episodes. Next week, the show will be preempted for ''Alias," and on April 26th ABC will broadcast yet another recap of the entire ''Lost" season. In May, however, the network will run original episodes the entire month (it's sweeps time) with the season finale airing on May 24th.

The Globe's article included interviews with "former" fans who have switched to other shows as a result of what they feel is an attempt by the network to stretch out the season with reruns. One former devotee said ABC "ruined" his birthday when he ushered away a surprise party so he could watch the show, not realizing the episode that night was a rerun. Another woman planned a "Lost"-themed costume party which fizzled when an episode from last season aired instead of a new one.

Don't these people have TiVo? If they are such big fans, they should at least set up a VCR to tape the show in case they miss something. Honestly, I can't imagine watching the show - with all its subtle details and twists - without the ability to rewind. Even if they don't tape it, they should check a TV schedule sometime - especially if they are planning a party around the show that week.

Jeff Bader, ABC's executive vice president of programming, planning, and scheduling explained why the show extends its season with reruns instead of airing originals the entire 36-week season. "It takes eight days to shoot an episode," he said. When the producers factor in writing scripts and the post-production editing process, then the equation is six to seven weeks to create a single episode. ''There are only so many weeks in the year," he concluded.

The numbers quoted by The Globe aren't very convincing. There has been a slight drop in the ratings - an average of 15.3 million viewers compared with 16 million last year. However, in the key demographic of 18- to 49-year-olds, viewership is up 9 percent to an average of 8.3 million viewers.

If the show is losing viewers, I think it's because this season seems more like the second act of a play - where foundations are laid that will lead to a climactic third act. The second act is always a bit slower-paced than the first or third. While a lot has happened this season, it hasn't felt quite as powerful as last season. "Lost" fans are impatient for more because the show is just that good. Besides, any show in its softmore season is likely to lose some viewers. Slower paced or not, I'm still riveted and can't wait to see what happens in the weeks to come.

For an excellent analysis of "Lost" each week, tune in to Film Fodder's Lost Blog. It's a great read with more tips and hidden bits than you could possibly catch just viewing the show on your own. -- Shannon Nolley

Shannon -- I totally agree with your conclusions.

Full Disclosure: I'm very biased about "Lost" because I write about it all the time (thanks for the Lost Blog shout-out!), but even with my clear bias firmly in place, I think what we're seeing is two things:

1. A story about nothing. 15.3 million viewers is DAMN GOOD. When it gets down to 10 million, I think they might be on to something, otherwise, "Lost" still counts as a blockbuster.

2. Your point about the "second act" is dead-on. In the Lost Blog, I'm constantly harping on the need for slower episodes. Not all the time, mind you. I love me some hatch revelations and all the twists and turns are phenomenal, but people need to understand there's just no way that stuff can persist week after week. The writers can't do it. The actors can't do it. And -- and this is the big one -- the audience really doens't WANT that. If you get big twists every single week you'll fall into M. Night Shyamalan territory: "Hey look, another twist! Wow, never saw that one coming ..."

Finally, the thing I love about "Lost" is that all involved seem to inherently understand that they have a unique opportunity to build something fantastic. Television is, in the right hands, a truly amazing medium. No other format lets writers/actors/producers develop a long-running, serialized story. In the past, the only producer who seemed to understand this was Joss Whedon, but now that we're blessed with "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica," I contend we're in a TV Golden Age.

One last thing: BUY A FRIGGIN' TIVO.

-- Mac

-- Posted by: mac at April 14, 2006 12:15 PM

I am not as much of a nerd as Mac -- I am still working on the first season (I love it!)...

But, I'd have to say that this article really confirms my assumption that there are a lot of losers in this world.

Good post!

-- Posted by: Rachel at April 14, 2006 12:27 PM

I agree all the vitriole is overblown. I think however it has mostly to do with alot of viewers who got turned onto the show from the DVD's. There were plenty of season 1 episodes that meandered about (in fact i would argue that season 1 had far less intrigue and was paced a heck of alot slower than season 2.. just look at episodes 5-8 during season 1 for evidence of that), but people were able to gloss over the slow episode with one right after that. Watching the show in it's serialized format doesn't afford them that opportunity, and they get frustrated.. but i'm sure they'll buy the season 2 dvd's... simple as that...

-- Posted by: JJ at April 17, 2006 4:57 PM