Shorter Lost

by Peter Suderman

The most important result of the end of the $2.5 billion WGA strike is that Battlestar Galactica will not, in fact, be cancelled before the end of its four-year runwhich had been a serious possibility. The second most important result is that we will see, if not a full season, at least a fully-developed storyline for the fourth season of Lost. Here's the story from Variety:

As for Lost, exec producer Carlton Cuse said he and fellow showrunner Damon Lindelof would meet with ABC brass … to hammer out the plan for the rest of the season. They won't be able to finish the remaining eight segs of the show's planned 16-episode season -- five is a more likely number -- but they will be able to craft a completed storyline for the remainder of this season, Cuse said.

And whatever segs are not produced this season will be picked up down the road in the show's remaining two seasons, Cuse said.

"We're going to try to make as many as we can and do a good job of finishing out this season," he said. "We'll have to compress some of the storytelling we planned for this season, and that may not be a bad thing.

A compressed season may not have been a good thing for The Wire (although, hey, it's still not bad), but I think it stands a good chance of improving the prospects for Lost. One of The Wire's strengths has always been its expert pacing, balancing the various needs for character moments, plot development, and plain old suspense. The true scope and complexity of each arc usually took five or six episodes to develop and another five or six to unravel before the last two episodes provided closure.

Lost, on the other hand, has had the opposite problem; it's been positively spastic with its pacing, usually too slow, and always too heavy on laying the groundwork for intrigue without providing nearly enough follow up. The creators are expertsperhaps the best on TVat sucking viewers in. But they don't know exactly what to do with you once you're on the hook. A slightly compressed schedule could potentially force its writers to focus on what's truly integral to their story rather than on what's merely tantalizing.