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Opinion: "Lost" End Date = Great Idea

My respect for "Lost" producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse just went up a few notches. According to multiple media sources, the dynamic duo told an audience of television critics that an "end point" for "Lost" is in the works.

"It's time for us now to find an end point for this show," Cuse announced during Television Critics Association's annual press event.

Of course, Lindelof and Cuse didn't say when "Lost" would end, nor is this announcement set in stone. ABC could opt to keep the show going for years, and there's no guarantee that Lindelof, Cuse or other Losties would stick around for the sad, feeble conclusion. There's no guarantee the audience would stick around either ...

Ideally, the end date needs to occur within the next three seasons. Lindelof tells SCI FI Wire that the 100-episode mark could be a good time to stop (Variety notes the crew is currently shooting episode No. 62), and I couldn't agree more. Most successful shows -- and "Lost" is still quite successful -- wouldn't dream of setting an end date, but "Lost" would certainly benefit from a definitive schedule. Unlike procedurals, "Lost's" serialized format requires cohesiveness from episode to episode, season to season and, ultimately, throughout the entire series. Knowing when the show is going to end lets the producers and writers build and conclude storylines in a natural manner (i.e. no more Nikkis and Paulos popping up in the regular cast -- damn you Nikki/Paulo!).

An end date also helps "Lost" maintain its creative credibility. Lindelof and Cuse have both pointed to the lackluster final seasons of "The X-Files" as an example of what not to do, and they deserve credit for paying attention. A definitive end date (and plan) would have allowed "The X-Files" to resonate for decades to come, but desperation and economics forced "The X-Files" to hang around far too long (Doggett and Reyes? What?). Now all "philes" have got are fleeting thoughts about what might have been and half-hearted assurances that "X-Files 2" is just around the corner. If -- and it's a big "if" -- Lindelof and Cuse can set and stick to a firm end date, "Lost" has an opportunity to succeed where "The X-Files" failed: its sum can be as good as its parts. -- mac

Thanks to everyone who sent me the assorted links on this story!


Posted by Mac Slocum on January 16, 2007 6:05 PM |




There's an indepth transcripts, with some nice spoilers at the end at this Chicago Tribune link: http://tinyurl.com/24shk9

Tick, tick...

#1. Posted by: lost chao at January 16, 2007 7:05 PM

Big Mac (I can't possibly be the first to write that, can I?),

I agree with you wholeheartedly. I would much rather see this show come to an end too soon than hang around for an extra season in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

I also believe that this is the beginning of a sort of a trend...that more shows will be aired with the express purpose of telling a certain story and no more, whether it requires 12 episodes or 112 episodes.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that this is the death knell of series television, but much like reality TV that many people (including myself) swore would never last, I think we're seeing the birth of a new format.

#2. Posted by: ransomjackson at January 16, 2007 7:42 PM

I couldn't agree more. Too many shows have gone on for too long, and some were canceled before the story was finished. I would love nothing more for Lost than to see the story completed and a definitive end in place. It goes out on top, and DVD sales will be better as well.

#3. Posted by: James at January 17, 2007 12:43 AM

Brilliant idea. Would greatly enhance the storytelling to be building toward a definitive and climactic climax.

It would also help to keep all of the regular actors on board for the duration of the series. Those who were thinking of jumping ship after a few seasons might choose to stay until the end knowing there's an actual end in sight.

As far as the network is concerned...they're probably already planning a spin-off or two, so shouldn't be too worried about losing their Lost cash-cow before milking it dry, ala the X-Files.

#4. Posted by: JoePike at January 17, 2007 10:19 AM

5 seasons would certainly be a disaster. Lost has lost a lot of its popularity in the course of season 3's initial episodes -- a lot sooner and faster than Alias lost most of its viewers.

I'm still not convinced if Lost would be able to keep most of its audience watching for 4 seasons.

In my opinion, season 3 should bring an end to Lost. We all want to know who Dave is, and also why Libby was in the mental hospital with Hurley. I'm quite interested how Cuse/Lindelof will puzzle all the open questions together.

Afterwards, Cuse/Lindelof could write a new show about English grammar. Nobody has done this before, but I'm sure Mac's Lost blog community would love it ;)

#5. Posted by: Margot at January 17, 2007 10:25 AM

@ JoePike: Your comment about the regulars sticking around is an excellent one. I imagine the lead actors would be willing to see the show to its conclusion because, like films, there *would* be a conclusion.

@ransomjackson: I think you're on to something. As a fan of serialized television, I lament the inevitable whimper that most of these shows go out on. But if producers built them to only last for a predetermined number of episodes, I imagine serialized shows could thrive. I've always viewed serialized drama as the visual manifestation of a book (or book series). The best of these series know where they're going, and each episode (i.e. "chapter") builds toward the conclusion. At its core, TV provides the means to tell these types of stories, but there *has* to be an end point for them to work. -- mac

#6. Posted by: mac at January 17, 2007 10:28 AM

All I have to say is Harry Potter! One of the best Serialized books in a long time.

Take note that this series will end right on time and not a moment sooner.

Cuse and Lindelof are smart...

#7. Posted by: K. at January 17, 2007 11:45 AM

@Margot I agree that many loose ends need to be tied up this season, but I don't think I am ready yet for it to be over. This season is surely when the show reaches one of its many climaxes, but I would like to see it through one more.

It would be nice to see the characters back to some sort of "ending" if you will. Whether they ever go home, or if they simply replace the dharma drones for the next group to come - hey, there's the spinoff.

#8. Posted by: meg at January 17, 2007 11:48 AM

Well, I agree with all that has been said. It will be interesting to see how the ratings (viewership) pan out when the season continues. Sadly, the end will come only when the Almighty $ says so.

#9. Posted by: JT at January 17, 2007 12:06 PM

I think that most of the viewership would come back if Lost set a final date. One of the biggest complaints I've heard from people leaving is that it seems like the show is adding storylines with no end in site, that it is a huge goosechase with only a ugly sad ending to finish it. I think that the idea of ending it at a certain time, although sad, is the best idea they could have. Seeing it end with a bang is muuuuuch better than ending it with a whimper.

#10. Posted by: psycho1jau at January 17, 2007 12:41 PM

I have a spin off idea.
The the end of season five have a conclusion for the Losties and continue the show from the view of the Others. Just like the first scene of season three. We can learn about the Others motivation for their actions and they can you clips from the original lost to parallel the stories.

#11. Posted by: fowleball at January 18, 2007 9:23 AM

@lost chao -- thanks for the Chicago Trib link. Great article! Very comprehensive -- appreciate it!

#12. Posted by: GatorGal at January 18, 2007 9:51 AM

@chao

>There's an indepth transcripts, with some nice spoilers at the end at this Chicago Tribune link: http://tinyurl.com/24shk9

Thanks for the link. My own take on this story, whcih appeared in the local paper yesterday, was that the producers were worried about the declining ratings and didn't want what was supposed to be a closed-ended show to stop suddenly in the middle of the story, so were asking for advance warning to allow them to wrap up the story line. Rare for TV drama, but not without precedent, such as "The Fugitive" which they cite, or "Babylon V", where Joe Strazcinski had a definite 5 year story arc in mind for his show (which he wrote 90% of himself) and moved heaven and earth to see the whole thing got made, even changing networks, from broadcast to cable, to a different cable network.

The heartless networks, of course, are completely profit driven, and could not care less about finishing a story for the fans. In the old days they frequently cancelled series after a season was in the can, leaving no chance of making a "wrap up" show, even for dramas with a continuinng story line.

Nowadays, it's even worse, for instance the mid-season cancellations of story-arc dramas "Kidnapped" (NBC), and "Day Break" (ABC, the "Lost" interim replacement), which was widely advertised to have a definite beginning-middle-end story that would tie in an explanation for all the mysteries.

NBC at least, 'did the right thing' and presented all the missing "Kidnapped" eps on the web.

ABC promised to do the same for "Day Break", but that's all we've seen, so far, promises.

We've all been trusting the creative authors of "Lost" to explain the mysteries of the island to us. Let's hope the network gives them the time to do so.

#13. Posted by: Cecil Rose at January 18, 2007 11:04 AM

I should also have added the example of Deadwoods's last season. HBO decided to wrap it up a whole season earlier than it really should have.

Despite the writers having time to write a wrap-up to the story line, it felt forced and unsatisfying to all the show's fans, because there really wasn't time to bring all the threads to a satisfactory conclusion.

Better than nothing, but not a whole lot better.

#14. Posted by: Cecil Rose at January 18, 2007 11:37 AM

I can't even mention LOST and The X-Files in the same sentence besides now.
X-Files pales in comparison....

"we're gonna need a bigger boat"

#15. Posted by: thinng at January 20, 2007 5:23 AM

It will be sad to see Lost end, but it would be even sadder to see Lost end without knowing for sure the answers to all the major questions


oh btw, we arer going to see a lot more of the hated paulikki, including backstories.
nooooooooo!

also was i the only one to see that key hanging fromthat weird arm thing on the preview?

i guess that preview is proof that Hurly in fact, did NOT eat the dog...

#16. Posted by: kaseygirl at January 20, 2007 3:35 PM

kaseygirl - which preview would that be? Can you give us a pointer?

#17. Posted by: Cecil Rose at January 22, 2007 11:54 AM

Re: lost chao

Great article. When I was reading the "Spoilers" I think the major shake up is going to be a tsunami. That happened in Dec 2004. I can't wait until Feb 7th.
15 days...

#18. Posted by: Jon is FOUND at January 22, 2007 2:50 PM

@Cecil Rose
- Let's not forget about "Reunion." There's another one that had great momentum/buzz out of the gate and then got dropped mid-season with no conclusions about "Who Done it" for those of us hapless viewers! And, I don't think they ever put the remianing episodes (or even synopsis) on the web!

So....Who dies?????????????
Kristin with E! is reporting that someone dies in the upcoming "Not from Portland" episode. And, that someone is NOT someone we will be sorry to see go! Guesses anyone?

#19. Posted by: GatorGal at January 23, 2007 4:08 PM

POTENTIAL SPOILER ... WARNING WARNING WARNING ...

Okay, with that out of they way, here's who I think bites it in the next episode:

Pickett.

#20. Posted by: mac at January 23, 2007 4:12 PM

EQUALLY SPOILERIFFIC
....POTENTIAL SPOILER ... WARNING WARNING WARNING ...

@MAC
>Okay, with that out of they way, here's who I think bites it in the next episode:

>Pickett.

By Julie, on the work detail, to keep him from shooting Sawyer.

Or was that Col. Mustard, in the drawing room, with the lead pipe?

#21. Posted by: Cecil Rose at January 24, 2007 1:30 PM

At last! The "Lost" writers writing process has been revealed, at:

http://darkufo.blogspot.com/2007/01/lost-writers-praody.html

#22. Posted by: Cecil Rose at January 24, 2007 1:55 PM

Hello Friends - davidrh here.

It has been some time since I’ve had a moment to chime in on all the news here at MAC’s place. Congratulations to our Grand Poobah on the birth of your child. Now you know what the term “unconditional love” REALLY means!


To the matter immediately at hand: Certainly the news of a planned conclusion to this series is good news. I have several blogs on my homepage “favorites” list that deal with this show - of course, Mac’s is at the top of the list and seems to have collected, certainly the most aggressive, and observant writers by far. However, one of the blogs ran the complete interview with Linderlof and Cuse, and it was heartening to know that the writers are, indeed, very aware of the blogging world and it’s comments. And DO take note.


The writers indicate in that interview that they look to a 100 episode closure and since we are at about 53 episodes now, this should mean that at least one infuriating aspect of this show might start changing - and that is, that we stop getting bombarded with new questions and perplexing situations and begin to see some answers that will eventually draw us to the appropriate and satisfying end.


It is interesting to note, that there is some suggestion that Penny will reemerge soon and by the end of this season, the Arctic Station will play a pivotal role in the future of the series.


After the exciting, yet disappointing opening six episodes this year, I look forward to the approaching “second season” debut. The televised “LOST moments” have been un-satisfying for the most part - however the 60 second promo that ran this week was pretty blood-pumping good. It got me on the edge of my seat! And full of anticipation for February.


The only downer for me is that when the show reappears, I shall unfortunately be on an airplane heading for a concert engagement in Pittsburgh. So it will be Sunday before I can get back to catch the recorded episode. By that time, MAC and ALL OF YOU will have already chimed in . . . If you don’t mind, I’ll probably not read the blog before seeing the show. Nothing personal, you understand?


So there’s hope for the future. But I’ve said it before . . . If on the 100th episode, Matthew Fox wakes up in a bed with Suzanne Pheshette and Bob Newhart after getting beaned on the head by a golf ball hit by Evangeline Lilly . . . I may hurt myself - or worst. Watch repeats of “Murder She Wrote” hour after hour until I become so addled that I wander off into the desert naked . . .


Or not.

#23. Posted by: Davidrh at January 27, 2007 4:45 PM

Let me tell you how my husband and I got hooked: Before Suncoast went out of business at the local mall, we had a membership there, gaining lots of "points" that became gift certificates...at one point, we had over $200 worth, and even though at that point we knew nothing about Lost (we had not had TV in FOUR years...didn't miss it either...hundreds of channels, nothing on...LOL) we figured, hey, with the gift certificates it's free, so we bought Season 1, and got hooked. Then we went and bought an antenna (we weren't gonna pay tons of money for cable for one little show)...and we still can't get LOST (LOL)...we get CBS, FOX, a spanish station, and 2 local stations ( and we only bought the dumb antenna so we could watch LOST on ABC...BUMMER). We have since bought Season 2. We will buy Season 3 and any other seasons that come around. We agree that there should be a definite end date.

Just a little f.y.i though: Lost wasn't the first----The Fugitive (from the 60's) starring David Janssen, was the first...they started the series with David's character seeing his wife murdered by the one-armed man, then he gets blamed, and becomes "The Fugitive"...the ENTIRE show was him searching for the one-armed man...and if LOST continues to "copy" The Fugitive, then they will have a definite end date (The Fugitive producers knew when they wanted to end the series, and that's when they did).

#24. Posted by: films_r_me at January 29, 2007 12:46 AM

@films_r_me

>Just a little f.y.i though: Lost wasn't the first----The Fugitive (from the 60's) starring David Janssen, was the first...
>(The Fugitive producers knew when they wanted to end the series, and that's when they did).

Tell me about it. I was in an Air Force officer-trainee boot camp in August of 1967 - can you young folks believe that's when a major network series like "The Fugitive" ended? And they refused a petition to let us stay up past lights-out to see that final episode.

That was long before the days of VCR's and video tape, so it was more than thirty years later when my brother bought me a video of the final fugitive episode for a Christmas present and I finally got to see it.

And "Lost" is certainly a series that inspires a similar passion. You are aware that, if you have a fast enough connection you can watch the recent shows on the ABC website, right?

#25. Posted by: Cecil Rose at January 29, 2007 10:00 AM

How can you think it's an "excellent" idea for the excutive producers of Lost to set a date for when they should end the show? Let me tell you: It's not a good idea. Why do they want to get people (including myself) worked up over it? I personally don't want to know when my favorite show is going to end. They've made plenty of mistakes (e.g- The new time slot, the HUGE break) and I don't want to hear about another bad one! Give me some good news, sheesh!

#26. Posted by: Destynee at January 30, 2007 6:37 PM

@Destynee: I think you're missing the point. If "Lost" continues on without a firm end date, the show will travel the same worn and weary path of other serialized dramas. It won't end well because, rather than concluding in a way that works *with* the story, it'll trudge along to a weak whimper (if it makes it that far -- when the ratings decline, ABC might opt to yank it entirely).

Knowing when a show is going to end is the equivalent to knowing how a movie is going to turn out. You have a sense of where you're going, but the fun is seeing how you get there. Without an ending, Lost won't have any "there" to get to.

#27. Posted by: mac at January 30, 2007 7:43 PM

Love the idea of a Lost end date- something to work toward to focus the series writing and keep the actors on board until the end.

But while I initially thought this episode break thing was a good idea, I'm not so sure anymore. My new opinion is that the show should go the '24' route and start much later in the season and then go re-run and break free. It feels like it's just been too long and the show has lost some momentum now. Don't get me wrong- it'll be very easy for me to get back into the show, I'm just not sure how many other fair-weather fans will stick around.

If they decide to keep this format next season, I think they should cut it right down the middle- do half of the shows, then take a break, then do the second half of the shows. Just my 2 cents!

#28. Posted by: JoePike at January 31, 2007 8:45 AM

I agree with JoePike. Don't get me wrong, I am a die-hard lost fan. I just feel that it has lost its momentum now. This, combined with the later time slot, leads the way to losing many of the fans. What I mean is, it's a huge commitment for many people to stay up until 10pm waiting for a show. Especially in the older age group this show seems to pull its fans from. I for one will dvr it, but many people simply will let it go by the wayside because they have lost the commitment it takes to watch a drama like this. Also, like my parents, they may not own or know how to operate a dvr. I am looking forward to next week, but not not nearly as much as I was with the real season opener. Especially since I must wait an extra day now.

Don't throw eggs at me! I'm still obsessing over it with the rest of us. :)

#29. Posted by: meg at February 2, 2007 11:31 AM

I recently read that next year, Lost will be broadcast in one fell swoop, with no breaks or interuptions, like 24. I just wonder if it will air in the Fall or the Spring. With both American Idol and 24 being Spring shows, I hope Lost opts for the Fall.
I'm also not crazy about the 10PM time slot, but I will deal with it, and stay up to watch the show. I would be mortified if I taped/tivoed/DVRed it and heard about something that heppened before I got a chance to watch it. I'd rather spend my Thursday mornings bleary-eyed and sleepy than miss an original airing of an episode, but that is just me : )
Only 5 days to go!

#30. Posted by: sarah c at February 2, 2007 2:29 PM

I caught up with all the hype and am HOOKED like all of you. Problem is, I missed the first six episodes of season three and can't find them for sale. I want to watch the newest episodes live. Any suggestions??

#31. Posted by: rookie loster at February 2, 2007 7:31 PM

I hadn't heard that Lost may be going '24-style' next year. Hope it's true. If so, then it couldn't start in the Fall- it would have to start no earlier than January since they just wouldn't have time to film all of the shows and keep up with the no re-run schedule if they started in the Fall.

#32. Posted by: JoePike at February 5, 2007 10:12 AM

Darn, JoePike, I never thought of that. I guess we would have to wait until January.

And Rookie Loster- you can buy the episodes for $1 a piece on iTunes (I think) and you can also watch them for free on ABC.com, I believe.

I myself just finished watching all of seasons 1 and 2 on DVD and the first 6 eps of Season 3, which I taped. I am totally psyched for Wednesday!!

#33. Posted by: sarah c at February 5, 2007 11:25 AM

Woo Hoo!

1 Day to Lost!

2 Days to Mac!

Check out my "Rome" blog, too. (Click TV drama, above)

#34. Posted by: Cecil at February 6, 2007 2:08 PM

In 24 hours we'll all be watching LOST again!!! I've missed you, Mac! Missed reading your reviews!:)

#35. Posted by: Trinity at February 6, 2007 10:35 PM

yikes! T minus 13 hours!!

#36. Posted by: meg at February 7, 2007 9:12 AM

Just saw the 'Juliet' actress (Elizabeth Mitchell) in a really creepy role as as the female half of a couple making child pornography in "Running Scared". Just remembering that role makes Juliet creepier.

#37. Posted by: Cecil at February 7, 2007 12:11 PM

Not sure if this is the correct place to put this comment but here goes....

I know Mac was referring to the newbies as Nikki/Paulo since they haven't added much of anything yet. I believe there were a couple other ideas, but I've got one. How about:

PIKKO

Anybody? No? Anybody? Bueller?

#38. Posted by: Mhausen11 at February 7, 2007 1:46 PM

Ha! Pikko, I like that.
From miscellaneous stuff I've read, they will play a pivotal part in a mid-season episode. I hope 'pivotal' refers to them sacrificing themselves to save a Lostie more near and dear to us : )

#39. Posted by: sarah c at February 7, 2007 3:33 PM

We had Paulikki...

i agree with sarah c

I heard that were going to get to know paulikki/pikko
Nooooooooo!

#40. Posted by: Kaseygirl at February 7, 2007 4:28 PM

Man...I missed you guys! See you tomorrow....only 5 hours or so to go....

#41. Posted by: Vikki at February 7, 2007 4:42 PM

When Kate and Sawyer returns to Sayeed and Hurley etc. they will surely tell how they were helped off the other island. The name of Alex will be heard, and as you know Sayeed in his time spent with Danielle will remember that Danielle had a daughter she named Alex. This will now bring Danielle further into the story. Then there is the case of Juliette who is related to Ben in one way or the other, like she may be his sister. Then let's not forget another part of this story: were are Walt and Mike?

#42. Posted by: Joseph at February 22, 2007 9:18 AM

4 + 8 + 15 + 16 + 23 + 42 = 108 episodes

#43. Posted by: bas at April 6, 2007 9:28 AM

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