Ratings crash as twists cause fans to get lost
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.
Centre stage: Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim as Jin and Sun in Lost