One of my favorite television shows has announced today that it is coming to an end. But in the spirit of Jay Leno announcing he won't be hosting the Tonight Show after 2009 (as in, making the announcement of the ending of an era years in advance), while ABC's hit show Lost announced it was ending its brilliant but often frustrating series, we still have plenty of time to figure out what the numbers mean and just where the castaways are. That's because according to Variety, the show will run for three more seasons (Until 2010) with 16 episodes a year, each starting in the winter, each running repeat free.
"In considering the powerful storytelling of 'Lost,' we felt this was the only way to give it a proper creative conclusion," ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson said.
"I always said that we would allow the series to grow and give viewers the most compelling hour possible," he added. "And, due to the unique nature of the series, we knew it would require an end date to keep the integrity and strength of the show consistent throughout, and to give the audience the payoff they deserve. "
"I think for story-based shows like 'Lost,' as opposed to franchise-based shows like 'ER' or 'CSI,' the audience wants to know when the story is going to be over," Cuse wrote. "When J.K. Rowling announced that there would be seven 'Harry Potter' books, it gave the readers a clear sense of exactly what their investment would be. We want our audience to do the same."
Cuse confirmed that devising an exit strategy for "Lost" was key to reupping with ABC Television Studio.
"In making this deal, Damon and I had two priorities: defining an end point for the show and keeping the quality bar high," Cuse said. "To do that we are both fully committed to the day-to-day running of the show right up until the very end. It's also why the 16 episodes per year was key for us. Because our show is so mythological, and because, unlike '24,' we can't reset each season, we need the extra time fewer episodes affords us to really plan out the specifics of our storytelling."
Even more interesting is what Kristen from E-Online said about why the show picked 48 episodes as how many more they will produce after this season.
I'm told that when we see the "game-changer," which the show's writing team is calling "the snake in the mailbox," at the end of the May 23 season finale, we will understand why the show can not go longer than 48 more episodes.
What on earth can that mean? This is why I love Lost.
As for the decision to announce an end-point, I think it is a great one for a number of reasons. As Carlton Cuse says, setting an endpoint for the show sends a message to the audience that if they continue to invest their time into the show, there will be a payoff at the end. No need to worry that Lost will be canceled after a giant cliffhanger or that the producers don't know exactaly when they have to wrap up all their stories by. We now know how long the show will last for and how long the writers and producers have to tell the fans what the monster is and what Dharma really is.
And even though waiting until February every year to have more Lost episode is going to be frustrating, I can live with it. 24 does the same thing and it is very successful (well, usually, unlike this season where 24 is just boring) and it allows the show to go forward without repeats. And without the horrendous "mini-season" in the fall which all but ruined this season. A lot of people gave up on Lost after that arc of episodes this fall, but if they did abandon ship, they've missed out on some of the best episodes of the year in the past two months.
Hopefully setting a firm end-date for the series will get some of those fans, who left, back on board, because as a big fan of the show I can tell you, things are really starting to get good.