Friday, September 23, 2005

LOST Opens Hatch, Finds Big Can of Whoop-ass

Despite my headline, I was not the biggest fan of the LOST season 2 opener. I liked it overall, and certainly everything having to do with what was down the hatch and how it might relate to the island was awesome (no mean feat considering the build-up last year), but the rest just felt like filler. Nothing in a given episode of LOST is ever simply filler, and while that was absolutely true Wednesday night, it still felt the show runners were just killing time until the final reveal. Which in turn leaves us dying to see episode two which is where the meat AND the potatoes are. Annoying to say the least, but the show is nothing if not an elaborate tease. I’m a LOST junkie, but I’ve no qualms about calling it out when it does something stupid, or silly, or both.

But regardless of how I felt about the episode overall, ABC literally killed its competition Wednesday night. CNN has posted a story with the details and the other networks are now looking like the boneheads they are for trying to schedule anything against ABC’s new giant. Considering how hard the show hit last year, and the final build-up to opening the hatch, how the hell could any network think that a show might succeed against LOST’s second premier? That the condensing of the first season into an hour as a primer also drew huge numbers, and then the premier of Invasion after LOST also drew huge numbers, means ABC killed everything in its path Wednesday night.

Remember how big a hit the first season of Survivor was? It wasn’t at first, becoming one of the last shows to actually build all season long based solely on word of mouth. It also didn’t have anything in the way of competition during the summer either, and in so doing it let CBS stamp its logo on the heads of a large cross-section of the TV-viewing public, who from that point on would follow the show wherever it went. Hence it has done well on the Thursday night battleground, and when coupled with the right shows it’s proven time and again to be a formidable opponent.

I think the only show that can survive against LOST is Veronica Mars, another cult show in the spirit of Buffy that has inspired a small legion of devoted followers. I’m personally dying to check out the show, but LOST is my first love of the moment and unless it turns really stupid, Veronica will have to wait until I hit it in my NetFlix queue. Looking through the CNN story, FOX in their wisdom killed off “Head Cases” after only the second airing in that time slot. Probably for the best because Chris O’Donnell can’t act, and the Hebrew Hammer is only funny in short bursts at best.

I remain amused at how the networks continually battle each other and always lose, when simple war-time strategy is all it would take to satisfy their egos and the viewing public. Look for vulnerable points in rival networks’ schedules, and exploit them by scheduling high-profile shows there. Do not put a high-profile show against a brand-new juggernaut, because the juggernaut will win time and again. I think LOST is going to reign that time slot through the rest of this year, and possibly into next but that depends on whether JJ Abrahms tanks his show in the third season as he is wont to do. The nets are going to have to wait until next year at the earliest before trying to chink away at LOST’s armor. Just get out of the way, and attack elsewhere. I’ll post my suggestions later for how TV can win both viewers and satisfy egos all at the same time. Hardly scientific, but hopefully Sun Tzu would be proud.

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