"Lost" marks 100 episodes as an unlikely hit

Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:54pm EDT
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By Todd Longwell

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It was four-and-a-half years ago that Oceanic Flight 815 went off course over the South Pacific and crashed onto a seemingly deserted beach.

Forty-eight people (and a dog) stumbled from the smoking wreckage to discover an otherworldly tropical isle inhabited by polar bears, smoke monsters and a mysterious band of human natives known as the "Others." The ever-evolving mystery made ABC's "Lost" the water-cooler show of the 2004-05 television season, helped revive the flagging fortunes of its parent network, and turned its cast -- all of whom were virtual unknowns, save for Matthew Fox (previously star of Fox's "Party of Five") and Dominic Monaghan (Merry in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy) -- into internationally recognizable figures.

With the 100th episode airing Wednesday, the survivors still haven't figured out exactly where they are and why, but executive producer Carlton Cuse has a theory as to how they got there, creatively speaking.

"The fact that no one believed 'Lost' was going to be successful in the beginning was enormously liberating," Cuse says. "So we set out to make 12 episodes of what we thought was the coolest TV show we could come up with and in so doing we violated a lot of the traditional rules of television narrative. We had characters who were murderers and had done very bad things. We had incredibly complex serialized storytelling. We had lots of intentional ambiguity, leaving the audience lots of room for interpretation and those things that sort of violated the rules of television were the very things that the audience ended up responding to."


But nothing lasts forever. In May 2007, it was announced that "Lost" would wrap in May 2010 at the end of Season 6. The reason was not the ratings, which have declined over the years as show has shifted time slots five times and taken long midseason hiatuses like the three-week break between Episodes 6 and 7 in Season 3.

It wasn't the high price tag of $4 million per episode. The decision was purely creative.

"We're fairly certain that, had we not been given an end date, the show might have been canceled by now, because we would've had to continue spinning our wheels and stalling," executive producer/ co-creator Damon Lindelof says. "It's a finite idea. Once Carlton and I had gotten through the first 30 or 40 hours of it, it became very clear to us that we were ready to take the show out of question/mystery mode and into resolution mode. And we couldn't do that until we knew when the show was going to end."   Continued...

<p>A backdrop of the Disney/ABC series "Lost" is shown at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 8, 2007. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>