Lost goes pop-up for the finale replay
January 30, 2008 5:22pm CST
I got this in my email today. What do you think? Will the pop-ups help or hinder the show? I plan to watch just to see how they do it. Also, there is nothing else on! January 30, 2008 Tropical Teaser: ‘Lost’ Clues Decoded By BILL CARTER Here is the problem for ABC: In “Lost” it has the show with perhaps the most compelling continuing story line in television history, one whose resumption this week has been hotly anticipated by its devoted fans. But especially because the writers’ strike has stripped ABC of most of its other hit series, the network would love to find a way to restore the still substantial “Lost” audience to near the blockbuster level it reached when the show first became a phenomenon more than three years ago. During the show’s first season it averaged 18.5 million viewers an episode, a figure down to 15 million by the third season. That is “a big challenge, though a fun one,” said Michael Benson, executive vice president for marketing of ABC Entertainment. He added that it was a little like saying, “Let’s ask people to pick up Chapter 13 and start reading.” That is one reason ABC has made this “Lost” week, with four hours dedicated to the show, split between Wednesday and Thursday nights. The four hours include an hourlong clip recap on Thursday night at 8, Eastern time, leading up to the first new episode at 9. The “Lost” onslaught begins on Wednesday night at 9 with a replay of the mind-boggling two-hour May finale of Season 3, which pushed new buttons on the show’s fabled character-flashback technique — chiefly the flash-forward button. Little of what happened in that episode is likely to mean much to those who have not followed the show’s labyrinthine plotline, stuffed as it is with interconnected back stories and sci-fi mind games. Trying to counter that expectation, ABC decided to transform the finale into what may be the first network show with added pop-up context. As Mr. Benson put it, maintaining his literary theme, “I kind of call it the Cliff Notes version of a TV show.” “Lost” follows a group of oddly connected plane crash survivors on a South Pacific island marked by mysterious qualities and populated by possibly malevolent inhabitants. ABC is labeling its revamped finale “Lost, Enhanced,” and it will include explanations of characters and events that will slide up in a bar of text at the bottom of the screen. So if Jack (Matthew Fox) is in the middle of a confrontation with Ben (Michael Emerson), Mr. Benson said, the running text commentary may explain that this is not Jack’s first encounter with Ben, or that Ben was first known as Henry Gale. Citing that name may also inspire references to what Mr. Benson called the “pop culture clues” that abound in “Lost.” The show’s executive producers, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, have always called these references “Easter eggs”: hidden clues planted to add pleasure to the close reading by rabid fans. (One example: Henry Gale is Dorothy’s uncle in “The Wizard of Oz,” and the character in “Lost” said he arrived on the island in a hot-air balloon.) The show’s producers, who zealously guard their central secrets, had no role in enhancing Wednesday’s episode because they were compelled to leave their posts when the Writers Guild of America went on strike in November. (They are also declining to give interviews during the strike.) However, much thought had already gone into finding some way to provide context for viewers who might find themselves lost mid-“Lost.” The show faces an enormous challenge when its production company, ABC Studios, tries to sell the series in syndication. The dense and complex story line does not invite occasional viewing, which is mainly what goes on in syndication. Mr. Benson said that before the strike the studio, the network and the producers discussed how to address that challenge. One idea was inspired by what the G4 cable network has been doing with the original “Star Trek” series. That network has added facts and commentary — usually humorous — along the borders of the screen in each episode. That seemed a potential solution to the “Lost” syndication problem, but it could not be addressed before the strike because time ran out. ABC now seems to have adapted that approach. The network commissioned Met/Hodder, a marketing and production company, to enhance the Wednesday installment of “Lost.” That company has also handled all the previous “Lost” clip shows. “They know more about this show than anyone else on the planet,” Mr. Benson said. He acknowledged that ABC had had to “strike a balance” between feeding the hunger of the acolytes for fresh clues and cluing in the newcomers, or the only casually devoted, to the bare basics. “It can’t be too inside,” he said. However much fans learn about the show on Wednesday, they are likely to be left wanting more. Before the strike the “Lost” producers were preparing 16 fresh episodes, but only 8 were completed. That handful of episodes and whatever new information can be gleaned from ABC’s enhanced effort on Wednesday will have to satisfy the “Lost” legions for the moment.
4 Feb 08
I liked the pop up features. I thought they added in some details that weren't fully covered by the replay of the season three finale (and I needed to refresh my memory since they've been off the air for eight whole months!). But I read pretty quickly, and could focus on the show and the text at the same time. My husband on the other hand found them distracting. He would focus on the text, and miss what the characters were saying, and vice versa. He ended up having to rewind a few scenes to take in all the information!