Lost on Thursdays. It doesn’t feel right, does it? With ABC’s announcement that Lost would be taking over Grey’s Anatomy’s vaunted Thursday 9pm time slot when it returns on the final day of January, comes a clear message from ABC: with the writers’ strike wreaking significant havoc on the every networks’ ’08 programming, Lost is ABC’s marquee series. Or, at least it’s the best it has to offer in early 2008. Thursday’s have historically been the biggest TV night of the week and, even in the recent heyday of reality programming, a night dominated by scripted television. ABC’s placement of Lost in the Thursday 9pm time slot is both a vote of confidence in the series from ABC and a reaction to the harsh realities of the upcoming strike-hampered Spring season.
The truth is that ABC lucked into having this opportunity. The Thursday 9pm slot was the logical place for Lost because a) it’s the night with the most potential viewers and, b) all the usual Thursday night heavyweights will be in re-runs thanks to the strike. CSI: will be out of new episodes by Lost’s January 31 premiere. NBC will offer The Apprentice: Celebrity Edition instead of The Office. Supernatural will be in re-runs. The only new episodes Lost will be competing against are installments of FOX’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics. Whenever you’re toughest competition on Thursday is Wayne Brady, you’re in good shape.
ABC, as a result, is likely expecting season one-type ratings out of Lost and will relentlessly hype the new episodes as the premiere approaches. In terms of buzz, there’s not going to be much else to discuss while Lost is airing its eight new episodes. American Idol will engulf Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but Thursdays will belong solely to Lost. A return to top ten in the Nielsens is not impossible, especially if the episodes are as good as ABC is purporting them to be.
Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have let it be known that, if they had their druthers, ABC would hold onto the new episodes until the strike is resolved and the sixteen season four episodes are able to run in succession. But, since that’s not going to happen, the best case scenario is that the strike gets resolved in first few weeks of ’08 and the Lost team is able to produce the final eight episodes of the fourth season ready to air in Fall 2008, followed by a full fifth season in Spring 2009. That’s the best case scenario. Unfortunately, the strike will probably last too long for that. I wonder if Cuse and Lindelof would be willing to restructure the final three seasons with eight episodes in Spring 2008, 16 episodes in Spring 2009, and 24 episodes over Fall 2009 and Spring 2010. Lost’s interesting predicament comes from its prescribed finishing point, now 48 episodes away. The writers’ strike may force the Lost team to get creative in their dissemination of the final 48 episodes. Knowing the quality of the Lost brain trust, fans should rest easy – they’ll figure something out.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of ABC)