Thursday, September 23, 2004


"I just read the Daily News and swear by every word."
- Becker/Fagen

And that's especially true when it comes to David Bianculli, their TV critic/essayist.

Here's what he had to say about ABC's scheduling of the premiere of 'Lost':

Just when you thought ABC had found its way by developing "Lost," one of the best series of the new season, the network shoots itself in the foot by scheduling it all wrong.

"Lost," premiering tonight at 8, stars Matthew Fox of "Party of Five" in a tightly wound, fabulously filmed drama about a group of survivors stranded on a remote island after their passenger jet crashed several time zones off course.

The version sent to critics for preview was a tautly structured two-hour pilot, a superb movie-length thriller that generated momentum, mystery and importance as it went along.

It's the sort of program ABC should have premiered as a two-hour Sunday movie, or at least televised on any other night in one complete sitting. The beginning hour of "Lost" gives you first impressions of the characters and the island; the second hour shreds most of those first impressions, and makes you look at almost every person, and everything else, in a different way.

So what does ABC do with this brilliant new series premiere, written by series co-creators J.J. Abrams (of "Alias") and Damon Lindelof and directed by Abrams? It chops the premiere into two one-hour chunks, spacing them a week apart. The first half, including its brilliant opening nine-minute sequence of the immediate aftermath of the crash, is shown tonight. The second half, which looks at everyone and everything through a much darker prism, will be shown next Wednesday.

This may end up being the dumbest ABC scheduling move, and the biggest waste of a valuable TV asset, since the same network oversaturated its airwaves years ago with endless editions of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
I can't wait to see what the overnights were because I believe ABC screwed up big. They got greedy.
If they wanted to premiere 'The Bachelor' with a two-hour opening, then fine. But they should have then bumped the premiere for 'Lost' to another week. Or vice versa.

Perhaps it just goes to show what a craftsman JJ Abrams is; perhaps every hour of this series will feel like it's ended way too soon for the week. But in this case, the premiere was made with a rhythm for a two hour TV-movie.

From the description of that second hour, for which we now have to wait a full week, I think people just joining the series for the first time (after great word of mouth from their friends) may end up confused and alienated by who these people are. Especially since we will apparently be now seeing totally different sides to their characters.
If the rest of the viewing audience was anything like me and the group of friends with whom I watched tonight, ABC was lost to them as soon as 'Lost' was over. We switched back to the Yankee game (Hooray, Toronto! Go Red Sox!) and then checked out Veronica Mars, a smidgeon of the 'Law & Order' season opener, and then mostly 'Dr. 90210' for the gross factor before finally settling down to the season premiere of 'CSI:NY'.

'The Bachelor' never stood a chance.

So that's why I'm waiting to see how the ratings turn out. How could 'The Bachelor' possibly merit a two-hour grand opening and yet 'Lost', one of the most eagerly awaited series - by one of the most talented creators in the business today, - gets chopped in two and treated so cavalierly?

I used to agree with the maxim that TV network programmers should be nibbled to death by ducks.

Now I think they should be marooned in the jungle on the island of 'Lost' with whatever those monsters may be.

Here's one last thing Bianculli had to say:

"But if 'Lost' crashes because of ABC's off-course scheduling, everyone involved in "Lost" should walk away proud."

A great show, ill-served.


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