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How Will Viewers Find "Lost" - If They Do?
January 31, 2008  | By David Bianculli
The fourth season of ABC's Lost begins - finally - tonight at 9 ET, eight months after the previous first-run episode. It's a strong season premiere, introducing new characters, dilemmas and mysteries, but the biggest question of all regarding Lost is this: Now that ABC has built it, who will come?

By the time the previous Writers Guild of America strike ended, overall TV viewership fell about 10 percent, and never recovered. Now that the current strike is about to enter its fourth month, signs are everywhere suggesting viewer fatigue - or worse, viewer apathy.

Last week's double helping of fresh episodes of Chuck on NBC? Good episodes, but even against Thursday reruns of Grey's Anatomy and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, their audience levels were series lows. The strike-finale episodes of Criminal Minds and CSI: NY last Wednesday? Set or tied season lows. ABC's fresh Ugly Betty? Except for holidays, another season low.

In other words, just being fresh isn't enough. The return of Lost is the biggest series event of the February ratings sweeps - so if it can't draw as many viewers as it did for its season premiere (or, at least, its season average) last season, it's a strong indication that this strike already may have had a draining effect on viewership.

What's Lost, at this point, may be more than just a TV show.


As for the show itself: ABC is asking for such a veil of secrecy, critics are requested not to discuss plot details of things revealed even before the opening credits. That's really pushing it: What happens in the opening minute of a show ought to be considered fair game for a review.

But I'll behave, for now. It's fair to say that we see more of the flash-forwards that stunned us in last season's finale, and learn that Kate and Jack were not the only ones to make it off the island. We learn, in fact, the identity of another, as well as the total number of those who returned.

We also spend time in the present, as the would-be rescuers - the ones, Charlie warned in his handwritten final act, from "not Penny's boat" - get closer to the island, and the survivors. The show, in short, is a reminder of how much fun a thought-provoking fantasy series can be.

If, that is, people bother to tune in to watch. Right now, that's as big a mystery as anything involving black smoke, polar bears or vanishing cabins.




Phillip R. Crabb said:

Well, if we're talking "flash-forwards", then by definition the "flash-forward" must be the 'present', or closer to the 'present' than what is being shown on the island......I think.

I've always opined that the Island may be the 'flashback' in all of this...

Which might help to explain why some people, like Desmond, know what's about to happen, before it happens........I think...

Somehow, somewhere, Einstein's theory is being brought to play here....alot of time-hopping going on to confuse the continuity...

...I think...

Comment posted on January 31, 2008 11:40 AM

dom said:

david... lost last night did around 8.5 million viewers for the hastily scheduled rerun of last year finale. i was surprised at those numbers. seems pretty good. i had doubts that viewers would find it tonight in it's 4th times slot in 4 years... especially with the amazingly low numbers ABC has been getting for all their shows so there's been no way to really promote it on high rated shows... but now i'm thinking maybe it can hit 14-15 million. it's not the 20 million plus it used to get but with all the reruns and american idol competition and pre-emtptions over the last 3 seasons... it's amazing it still gets an audience.

something also to know is that lost sold about 50 million dollars worth of dvd's for season 3. so some people catch up with it that way too.

Comment posted on January 31, 2008 2:33 PM

John said:

Gonna be gone month of Feb. and wanna tape Lost. Can someone tell me what time and what day of the week ABC plans to show it for this the 4th season?
(That's easy enough: Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET -- David B)

Comment posted on January 31, 2008 8:00 PM

dom said:

i guess they found lost. 16.1 million watched. dvr playback should pop it up to 18 million. not bad.

Comment posted on February 1, 2008 12:45 PM

Bart said:

What! Me and link missed our favorite show, if we flash forward minus 2 days can we watch it live?
(Hi, cousin! Just look for it in the "Lost" and found... -- David B)

Comment posted on February 1, 2008 6:27 PM

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