Tag Archive | NBC

I Once Was LOST…

While watching TV last night, I realized exactly how much Lost, most notably the end of Lost, has changed television forever.

While watching my guilty pleasure reality competition show America’s Got Talent, NBC was running a commercial which, as a defunct Lost devotee, caught my interest.

The show is called Persons Unknown and immediately puts off the mystery/thriller show vibe. It seems to be something like The Real World meets Saw; a bunch of people are kidnapped and put in a house full of cameras. More than likely they will be forced to make some sort of insane moral choices to save that which they hold dear. Notable example in the trailer was forcing one woman to shoot her “neighbor” in the room next door in order to save her daughter’s life, tears streaking down her face as she holds the gun on an innocent man.
Surely, this will be another compartmentalized character-driven drama involving strangers getting to know each other and either effecting escape or survival.
Of course, they give you no hint as to who these people are or why they’ve been collected or even where they really are.

Has Lost influenced this show? It’s painfully apparent. However, the influence of one show on another doesn’t really say that it changed television forever.

Within the first few moments of the promo, after a few mysterious images are shown, the voice-over announcer graciously makes a promise to the viewer on behalf of the network:

“By the end of the summer, there will be answers!”

This is how Lost has changed television forever.

I’m sure that many of we former Losties, coming off the ending of a show which we happily donated our time, speculation, and anticipation to, were afraid to put our feet back into the water to another mystery show. A comforting statement, assuring us there will be answers, is the only real way to get the largely disenchanted target audience to invest in such a show so soon after feeling duped and disappointed by an ending so unsatisfactory for everything the show had built around itself.

Was I disappointed in the Lost ending? A week and a few days after watching it, I’m here to tell you that I absolutely was.
It took that long to actually let the feelings sink in; to allow my mind to navigate around the emotional traps set for devoted viewers by the writers. It was the old bait and switch routine. They thought that by giving us every heart-pumping, tear-jerking, impossible-due-to-death reunion that we would forget about all of the questions we really wanted to see answered within the two-and-a-half hour damn near feature length finale.
Tugging on my heartstrings did work for the first few days. I was telling people that I was satisfied. This was largely based in reality. The finality for the characters was somewhat pleasing. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that the whole two-point-five hour affair was just to pull the wool over my eyes. It was distracting me from one painful fact which, it seemed, all Lost fans didn’t want to admit: the writers sucked.
Argue with me if you will about the sanctity of your precious Darlton (that’s the celeb-couple name for head writers Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse to the uninitiated), they were handed the show by a disenchanted J.J. Abrams and had no freaking clue as to what to do. This had been painfully apparent since season three and still we watched. We watched and kept telling ourselves that it would all make sense in the end. We kept making ourselves believe that, someday, all of our questions would be answered.
When they announced that season six would be the last of it, we all thought that every show would be answer after answer until the big shocking (completely satisfying) conclusion. What we got was a bag full of wet farts and a kick in the ass for being suckers.

The necessity of the promise of answers is how Lost has changed television.

How Lost should change television I will detail in the following letter.

Dear Television Writers,


No one on the internet knows better than you do what the story should be.
If you happen to write something which establishes a fandom, there will obviously be people who think they can do your job better than you. They will gather other people, like-minded, via forums and form movements. If they think the two new characters you (seemingly) randomly introduced in the middle of season two who happened to be on the beach but never really surfaced before suck balls, they’re going to tell you that those characters suck balls. They’re going to launch a movement and force you to write those two characters off the show. And, you’re going to do it, aren’t you? You’re going to do it for fear of alienating the viewers involved in that movement because they may make up a large portion of a particular money-making demographic. You’re going to do it because pressure will be on the network to keep the show performing or else.
You are going to sacrifice the integrity of the overall story because a bunch of wanna-be slash-fic writers within your fandom can raise a virtual army to rail against the direction you feel your tale needs to go. They can protest and threaten to boycott if things don’t change to their preference. They probably won’t, but it’s the threat that counts.
It doesn’t matter to any of them if they would have played some sort of master role in your magnum opus because they can’t see the big picture like you can. They only think that they’re seeing through some sort of sham to keep people interested in the show by bringing new blood into the cast.

Of course, that may have really been a sham, but that’s not the point.

I’m just using Nikki and Paulo on Lost as an example here.
Another Lost example might be the explanation of the Smoke Monster.
Could it have been nanites, Darlton? Would that have been a satisfactory explanation? Sure. Up until possibly season four, it would have been perfectly valid and acceptable. Some DHARMA experiment gone haywire would have been a great way to keep things, pardon the expression, more real.
Instead, you listened to the fans. A bunch of them came to you at press conferences and asked if it was nanites. You said maybe. They said: “Well, if it’s nanites, then that’s a stupid bullshit answer.” So, you said: “Oh, then it’s not nanites.”
So, what did we get instead of a plausible pseudo-scientific explanation? We got a dude in a black shirt getting chucked down a shiny hole in some two-digit year AD. Do you tell us what, precisely, the fuck was going on there? No. So, rather than appease all of your fans with a solid answer, you slide around the point and try to appease a portion of the fans who would have been upset with what was probably your original explanation.
Does this work? No. You wound up pissing off all of your fans rather than the small portion who cried bullshit back in the day by giving us a non-explanation.

I can understand the pressure you feel. As a fiction writer, I’m always looking for feedback from my few loyal readers. I always want to hear what they’d like to see done differently. I like to know which characters they’re fans of so that I can put more time and effort into their development.
There is one key difference between your body of work and mine, and it’s not just the fact that you’re on network and I’m on nothing: My story isn’t finished yet.
I know, yours may not have been, either, when you ended the first season, and that’s fine. But, you’re in the public eye. You’ve got one of the most watched television dramas of the last 25 years. Try to at least make it look like you know what you’re doing instead of catering to portions of your fanbase by essentially making things up as you go along. They’re devoted. They’re not going to go anywhere, no matter how much they posture. Your ratings would have stayed intact if you’d have at least thrown us a bone back in season one. Instead, you present us with questions which would go unanswered for the entire distance of the show. Questions which weren’t hard to answer in the first place, but you made them hard to answer. You made it so that there would be no plausible, simple, one-line explanation for everything and you thought that every reveal, no matter how big or small, deserved its own episode.

I am disappointed in you.

But, you have changed TV forever.

Now, they HAVE to give us answers. They have to promise us answers to get us to watch because we don’t want to invest six years of our time in a bunch of bullshit mysteries again.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

The Peacock, the Ginger, and the Chin

Jay Leno is officially destroying network television. And not just for NBC, I’m talking for everyone.

Thanks to the epic hissy fit he threw at the moment of his ousting from the Tonight Show throne and his subsequent takeover of the 10 PM one-hour spot on NBC, the network world has begun to implode.

In case you don’t know the story, Jay Leno was practically forced into retirement by NBC who wanted a younger demographic tuning in to their late night lineup. They know, as I know, that Leno’s jokes and bits were too tired and safe for the younger crowd. They know that Leno’s interview skills are absolutely horrible and completely sterile – that he strives to avoid controversy and will shut down at any instant of conflict with his guest.
Did I watch Leno? Yes. My wife liked Leno on the Tonight Show and I didn’t mind him all that much.
When the announcement was made that Conan would be taking over, however, we were both overjoyed. We loved watching Late Night with Conan O’Brien and we knew that Conan would continue to deliver his brand of humor (albeit slightly toned down) when he began his reign from the big chair. We found ourselves more excited for the emergence of Conan than disappointed for Leno’s departure. It was only in his latter days that I may have gotten my wife to crack a bit and admit that Jay’s stuff was getting lame. I won’t quote her on that, though.

When it came to pass that Leno was not being fired but rather rescheduled for the 10PM slot, I was outraged. NBC was so afraid that a disenfranchised Leno would leave for another network (citing mainly the empty Fox late slot or even axing Jimmy Kimmel out of his spot on ABC) and “take his audience with him” that they had to offer him something.
It is for this sin that NBC has suffered. A daily talk show at 10PM on a network is a horrible idea and everyone in the broadcasting community knew that it was a massive mistake. I called it when the announcement was made: NBC is going to hit the skids. No one is going to watch Leno. The other networks could run shots of a flaming pile of crap leading into the local 11PM news and they would probably pull better ratings (especially CBS, as long as they titled the show CSI: Piece of Flaming Crap. … Wait, isn’t that a show already? YEEEAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!)

The reality of the fallout was something very interesting, indeed. For once, people who were network junkies were clicking the remotes on those digital boxes and checking out shows like Sons of Anarchy and Men of a Certain Age. And, the people who were watching something else on another network are getting told by friends that they should be watching some cable show instead. Friends are heeding this advice and cable is reaping the rewards, and not just from the wounded and lame NBC time slot as it limps on down the road.
The problem was, the bullet in the thigh that is Leno hasn’t killed the network yet, but the bleeding is affecting the local NBC affiliates 11PM News. People who are tuning out from Leno aren’t tuning back in to the same channel to get their news where they would have previously stuck with whatever program they were watching on NBC (or other networks) into the 11 o’clock hour.
This is where things really get me because Leno, in this fashion, is hurting the little guy. The affiliate stations are suffering losses in ad revenue for their 11 o’clock news. Ad revenue from local programming and slots offered in some network shows is really how they make their scratch. Taking away the revenue of that half-hour’s worth of that programming due to crap ratings could very well cost someone (if not multiple people) their job. And, I don’t mean the people who sold the ad time. I mean loss in revenue = loss of jobs. Across the board.
In essence, Jay Leno’s rich stubborn ass might cause a check-to-check cameraman or production assistant to lose their income. He’ll probably just use the proceeds to buy another car.

Now, news hits that NBC has had enough of Leno dragging their ratings deep into an unrecoverable quicksand of death. It dropped last night that, after their Winter Olympic coverage ends, the 10PM Jay Leno Show will be no more.
I honestly squealed with joy as I read the headline, “Leno’s Future Up in the Air”. I was excited when I read about the looming cancellation.

I almost choked when I read that NBC may be moving him back to his original 11:35 time slot.

The deal would be thus: Leno at 11:35 in a half-hour program, then Conan with the Tonight Show at 12:05, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 1:05. At least, that’s the latest rumor courtesy of the AP Wire.

Note to NBC: This is not going to right the ship. If you continue to force Jay Leno on your viewers, you will lose them. The audience is finally starting to get used to the flow of the new late night lineup and you are going to shake things up again. People, especially your traditional late night audience, despise change.
I would like you to know that, if you do put Leno back on at 11:35, my wife and I have both agreed that we would be much better served watching the Colbert Report live rather than on the replay. Will we tune back in for Conan? Who knows. We’re both up early in the mornings and most of the time fall asleep before Conan’s second guest. We were giving you that extra half-hour of ratings. I’m sure that most people who actually watch network late night will probably feel the same.

Leno, at this point, seems to be the albatross around NBC’s neck. Rather than buck up some nuts and fire his sorry ass (preferably out of a cannon), the pussies/morons at 30 Rock would rather coddle him so that he doesn’t “take his audience with him” when he goes away.

NBC, you’re a respected news provider. It should not be a flash that LENO’S RATINGS SUCK. What exact audience will he be taking with him if he goes? A small piece of the Tonight Show pie? Hangers-on who are as-yet unsure of Conan’s awesomeness? Trifles. He’s not going to upset the balance of the universe. He’s going to go to another network, have the exact same lame-ass tired show he has now, and tank there. Why not pass the bomb off to someone else and save yourselves the trouble?

I’m sure you won’t. You’ll drag Conan down for the sake of a billionaire has-been stand-up comedian who you think has you by the short-and-curlys.
I say call his bluff. I say let the bastard go. Give Conan his due. And, remember how much this is hurting your local affiliates. Leno is essentially costing people their livelihood. Don’t be one of those companies.

Down with Leno.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—