Friday, 01 Feb, 2008 Offbeat

"LOST" Finds a New Beginning


"The strike screwewd things up a bit but at least it wasn't a complete 180. Of course I say that, but as soo as episode eight airs, I'll probably freak out".
Sasha Wolff, 34, addicted to "Lost", New York

Tonight, on the last day of January at 9 PM, ABC broadcasting network will air the first episode of the fourth season of "Lost" - presumably the most mysterious and intriguing TV series of recent times. The first episode of season four comes after eight months of waiting, expectations and theories on the possible outcome of the game. Despite the endless joy of the "Lost" fans there is still one thing to make the joy not that endless - the writers' strike, which made the fourth season of "Lost" twice shorter than it was supposed to be, and now it is only 8 episodes long.

The fourth season had an important initial role to start the 48-episode advance to the climax of the series, planned for 2010 by the producers of the show, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

Carlton Cuse said in May 2007 that he admitted the right of the audience to expect the story to finish and that a certain date of the last episode would enable him and Lindelof to "take the remaining mythology" and blend it into the ending as smoothly as possible, minding the details. Yet now, with the writers' strike and the network's decision to make the season shorter, the audience starts asking some reasonable questions, as for example, "what can 8 episodes of such a complex and mysterious series clarify and to what degree?".

"Lost" has been criticized for spreading the episodes over seasons, for making the seasons too short (as for the number of episodes) and for making the break between seasons too long. Most of these are actually decisions of the network and not the producers, as the latter had something else in mind, described above. Another reason for criticism were the twists and turns in the plot (ABC), such as the season three ending, which left the fans wondering if the flash-backs along the three seasons were actually flash-backs and not something entirely different.

The size of the "Lost" audience is huge. Ben Grossman, Los Angeles bureau chief of Broadcasting & Cable, said that the very first episodes of "Lost" have set the bar for all the ratings and criticism so high that now ABC has to live with that and make everything possible to keep up with this level during the following seasons.

When "Lost" was in the season one period, its audience averaged 18.5 million for an episode and the figure sunk during the third season to 15 million. 15 million is also a good index for a TV series, yet ABC is still trying to keep up with the 18 million viewers per episode. For this the network aired a special episode on Wednesday and will air a one hour recap episode for all the previous seasons on Thursday one hour before the premiere of season four.

There is also a bright side though: critics say that ABS still has a chance to get viewers back for "Lost" by airing new episodes in a complex TV series in a period of writers' strike, i.e. a period of reality shows and numerous repeats.

However, there are people, who don't really care about what critics say, because they say that an 8 episodes' season of "Lost" is better than no "Lost" at all. These people are the devoted and "Lost" fans. They are variously aged, of different races and religions, of both sexes but they are lost in "Lost": they try to find hidden signs in every episode and each scene to discuss afterwards various theories about the mysterious island that has the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 trapped during over 50 episodes.

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