Saturday, February 2, 2008

This Uncharted Desert Isle

A quick history of me and "Lost:"

In 2004, I tried to watch the pilot episode and it put me to sleep.

That quick enough for you?

Honestly, it wasn't entirely the show's fault. Life in 2004 wasn't the best for me (boo hoo), and I'm sure I didn't give the show the look-see it deserved. Having missed the start, however, and given how complicated things grew on that mysterious island, I wrote the show off, figuring I'd never be able to catch up.

I must not be the only one. ABC has bent over backwards this past Wednesday and Thursday to bring new viewers up to speed with Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly and company. As one of the targeted new viewers, and intrigued by the positive write-ups the show received towards the end of its previous season ("a resurgence," I heard), I decided to play along.

Who am I to resist when a multi-billion dollar corporation makes a gesture?

It all started on Wednesday with a rebroadcast of the Season Three closer, "Through the Looking Glass." But this wasn't just any old rerun. ABC generously included a series of captions at the bottom of the picture to let newbies like me know who's who, who likes whom, who doesn't like whom, and strangely, who likes The Who.

But who doesn't like The Who?

I kid. But the captions were, for the most part, quite helpful getting caught up with and comprehending a very complex episode. Some were a bit less helpful than others ("The survivors seem agitated." Thanks!). Most were exactly what a novice like myself required.

Then, in case the captions Wednesday weren't enough, on Thursday, just before the Season Four debut, ABC ran "Lost: Past Present and Future," a clip show review of the past three seasons. Aside from being a mite too heavy on information about the episode that aired just the previous night, it too was full of useful factual tidbits covering three years worth of island doings.

Then it was time to kick off the aforementioned Season Four. In "The Beginning of the End," the survivors seem agitated.

Ahem.

The survivors debate whether or not to contact a freighter that might mean salvation or destruction. New alliances are formed. At least, I think they were new. The episode also continued the flash-forward structure begun (I think) in "Through the Looking Glass." The Season Three finale featured glimpses into Jack's (Matthew Fox) life after rescue. "The Beginning of the End" focused on the future life of Hurley (Jorge Garcia). Neither seems to be adjusting well to life off the island.

So did ABC's experiment work? Well, the Wednesday night repeat did pretty good ratings-wise for a rerun; it garnered a 5.0 rating and an 8 share (or about 6 million households tuned in, and about 8% of televisions in use at the time).

Thursday's opener drew solid numbers, winning the night for ABC with an 8.3/13 (a shade under ten million households tuning in). Significantly, the clip show before it did almost as well.

So it looks like ABC will benefit from their efforts. Finally, the Disney Corporation will start making a little cash.

As for me, I was suitably intrigued and will indeed be along for the ride, at least until the striking writers come back. I even ventured out to my local Circuit City and plunked down a couple bucks for the Season One DVD set.

Now, if I can just stay awake through the pilot ...

"Through the Looking Glass" (newbie rating) 3 1/2 stars

"The Beginning of the End" (ditto) 3 stars

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