Balderdash. "Lost" has been a wonderful program and deserves the accolades thrown its way. But the need to register such sweeping claims in conjunction with its farewell -- many brimming with attributed social significance -- says more about us media folk, frankly, than it does about TV.
As fate would have it, "Lost" is one of three long-running, Emmy-winning hits that will say goodbye over the next few days, the others being "24" and (barring a last-minute reprieve) "Law and Order." And while each can rightfully be lionized in various ways -- "24" for its relationship, first unwitting and then periodically intended, to the events of
The producers of "Lost" deserve enormous credit (and, to a lesser extent, so does
In doing so, "Lost" isn't the first series to tell a complete story over a multiyear arc ("The Wire" and "The Sopranos," however infuriating, come to mind), any more than it was a pioneer in primetime fare that spawned rabid Internet fans who speculate wildly about its mythology -- a TV term coined during the heyday of "The X-Files."
Like "Lost," Fox's "24" broke ground with its commitment to intricate serialization as well as a scheduling pattern (which
Finally, there's "Law and Order," whose achievements are many but from a historical perspective primarily boil down to fertility and longevity. The former can be witnessed in the staggering roster of spinoffs the franchise launched -- five in all, including the short-lived "Trial by Jury" and reality-TV incarnation "Arrest and Trial" -- paving the way for
As with "The Simpsons," which happily stumbled into immortality -- hey, animated sitcom kids never age! -- the makers of "Law" found that a steadfast focus on the cases made it possible for the series to weather cast turnover. That template also eliminated contract holdouts by actors (see Sheen, Charlie) that frequently make a veteran show prohibitively expensive -- especially once the ratings start to sag.
The show's ripped-from-the-headlines approach also yielded one unforeseen consequence: speeding the demise of made-for-TV movies that had already come to rely excessively on true crime, the nadir coming when networks offered three competing movies about "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher. Producer
"Law and Order" could also be callous about character departures, occasionally treating them like mere afterthoughts. Yet one reporter actually asked
These shows will understandably be missed, some more fervently than others. But unless you're hungry for a headline, as they say, the beat goes on.
- Television - Can TV News Be Saved?
- Television - Network News Doing Less with Less
- Media Overreaches As 'Lost' and Other TV Series Finish Up
- Television - Chattin' It up With iCarly's Miranda Cosgrove
- Television - Recurring Reality's Faux Sheen
- America Through the Reality Lens
- Television - TV Vets Assess Sitcoms
- Decade of Rapid Change
- TV's Best for 2009: Can't Pick Just 10
- Behind the Scenes at the Food Network
(c) 2010 Variety. Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.