Rat­ings crash as twists cause fans to get lost

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

THE sur­vivors of Oceanic Flight 815 aren’t the only folk who are lost. A large sec­tion of this show’s au­di­ence also ap­pears to be MIA.

In its first sea­son, Lost was one of the year’s most pop­u­lar shows, but now it’s not even among the 15 most watched shows on the night it airs.

While it isn’t rea­son­able to ex­pect that a show could main­tain such re­mark­able fig­ures for three years, it’s easy to see why so many reg­u­lar view­ers have left.

Back then, the day- to- day sur­vival of plane crash vic­tims stranded on an is­land, and their un­fold­ing back sto­ries, was en­gross­ing and pro­vided tan­ta­lis­ing hints that the char­ac­ters’ ar­rival on this strange is­land was not ac­ci­den­tal.

Now we’re in the fourth sea­son and we still don’t re­ally know why they are there. Sure, we know what caused the plane to crash, we have seen the mon­ster ( ummm, smoke?) and we know that the is­land is home to a sci­en­tific re­search project, but none of th­ese rev­e­la­tions ex­plains any­thing.

Too of­ten this show an­swers one ques­tion by dis­tract­ing with an­other and the leap of faith that we will even­tu­ally know all has be­come too dif­fi­cult. For this sea­son ( which has only 13 episodes be­cause of the US writ­ers strike) the for­mat has been shaken up some­what as we flash for­ward, not back. See­ing the fu­tures of the six char­ac­ters who ev­i­dently make it off the is­land is in­trigu­ing, but only to a cer­tain de­gree.

The slo­gan ‘‘ ex­pect the un­ex­pected’’ may be cute, but Lost demon­strates that in do­ing so, you also lose the abil­ity to be sur­prised by any­thing.

So a big reve­la­tion, such as that Fu­ture Kate is ap­par­ently rais­ing Claire’s son Aaron as her own, tends to fall with the thud of ‘‘ so what?’’. It doesn’t help that for a show that’s about peo­ple stranded on an is­land, new char­ac­ters are con­stantly in­tro­duced. Not even Gilligan’s Is­land was this busy, and it was once vis­ited by the Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters.

There are the tail- sec­tion sur­vivors, a ship­wreck vic­tim, ‘‘ the oth­ers’’ ( and their var­i­ous splin­ter groups) and, now, a mys­te­ri­ous ship. That’s a lot of back sto­ries and each new char­ac­ter takes air­time from those who were fun or in­ter­est­ing, such as Hur­ley, Sawyer and Sayid.

That said, the show still can pull off a great episode, such as the pre- hia­tus one deal­ing with a time- trav­el­ling Des­mond. And tonight’s re­turn not only fea­tures Grant Bowler but also fo­cuses on some long- ne­glected char­ac­ters, Sun and Jin, and un­veils the fate of an­other, al­beit in a way that raises more ques­tions.

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers Da­mon Lin­de­lof and Carl­ton Cuse an­nounced last year that the show would con­clude af­ter two more sea­sons and all ques­tions would be an­swered. Sus­tain­ing in­ter­est that long as well as pro­vid­ing a sat­is­fac­tory con­clu­sion is a big ask. Let’s hope there are still enough peo­ple watch­ing.

Ker­rie Mur­phy

Cen­tre stage: Daniel Dae Kim and Yun­jin Kim as Jin and Sun in Lost

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