Originally Posted by archiguy
The thing that's so frustrating about LOST is the wasted opportunity to craft a final chapter befitting all the awesomeness that came before. What many fans don't understand is how people that talented and bold for 5 years could have dropped the ball on the 1-yard line. It's not just an artistic frak-up, either.
It was clear to me that the show had great potential to go wrong at the end of the second season. They had us all drawn into the mystery of the hatch. They spent most of season one making us believe that the hatch would be the key to many if not all mysteries of the island. When we got in there we got tons of information. Most incredibly it was consistent and foreshadowed a lot of potential. The numbers. The old computer. The instructional film. And the map! Remember the map? More hatches. Actual history of the island! Frightening Latin phrases! One terrifying question mark in the middle of it! This map was going to lead us through the resolution of the series, no doubt about it.
Then they blew it all up.
Why? I guess some writers felt they had better ideas so they chucked most of what happened in the first two seasons and rebooted. Right there that was a bad sign and I lowered my expectations. Season three set the series into several different directions, dumped a pile of plots on our backs and demanded that we carry them around. Instead of a linear story slowly revealing itself, nearly every episode had another damned twist that we'd have to remember in case it had something to do with anything. Most of them didn't and became distractions and loose ends. It seemed like they were bringing in guest writers for every episode.
Once the time traveling stuff happened, it was mostly for fun and the mystery was put on hold. They thought it would be cute to send of the cast back into the 70's and it was an easy way to clear up some of the many many subplots they had thrown at us. The "and a miracle happened" plane "crash" to bring in more characters was just to have a tear-jerking reunion. That showed how the writers were concentrating on the characters at the expense of the story.
The last season promised something absolutely incredible and just didn't deliver. It was shameless show extender. Frankly, Abrams did a better job with the time traveling plot to extend the last season of Felicity. At least we weren't asked to take that
They've lost zillions in revenue because of it. I was all set to buy the whole series BD set someday, no matter what it cost. But after that finale, I never will since I now have no desire to watch it again, or turn it on to others as I had been doing for the previous 5 years. I don't want them to end up as invested, and disappointed, as I was.
I never bought the last season BD because it had very little to do with the story. They decided that the audience loved the characters so much that they didn't need a believable or understandable mystery to make us watch another season. Abrams already used this trick successfully at the end of Felicity and saved what would have been a dull final season.
As I've said before, no book editor worth his salt would have allowed them to get away with what they did in the literary world - when the readers may have only had a few weeks or months invested in reading the book. In a serialized thriller, people expect resolutions. Why should viewers tolerate something like that in a TV show, especially when we had invested five years in their work?
It's very hard to make anything work for five years on television. Screenwriters are trained to think in five acts that last two hours but they're taught nothing about how to make a television show work, mainly because no one really knows. They have network executives in their faces all the time giving dumb suggestions based on no information (the original Lost concept actually came from ABC executives). Competition within a show is tough. Good writers come up with great ideas that get thrown out for weaker ideas so they give up. There's lots of turnover and everyone expects to be working someplace else in a year so who cares what happens next season? These losers will be stuck on this television show while you're writing screen plays for feature films! That's just how television works.
True Blood has the same pattern. Start with a great idea and great characters and generate two successful seasons. Then in the third season give every character their own subplot so they don't talk to each other and make the plot ever more complicated.
Breaking Bad did the opposite by making the plots less character centric and concentrating more on action and violence, probably because there are no truly likable characters on Breaking Bad.