Not Surprised at all

Flash Forward is being canceled:

I think ABC is taking notice of how Darlton has treated the viewers with LOST. They must be watching the polls and understand the viewers are not willing to get involved in a long drawn out build up of a show that cannot close the deal at the end. They are proving this by canceling Flash Forward. This show seems to be running in the same manner as LOST with no real direction yet but just an idea for a story to begin with. They are probably afraid that the writers will get a lead foot like Darlton and lose control of the car so to speak and fans will be a little faster to jump ship because they will be able to recognize they are being taken in by a bunch of mysteries that can never make any sense when put together at the ending. In the case of LOST, the questions will not be answered at all.

Article I would like to share - The one time ABC ratings giant, Lost, has reached the home stretch with only two episodes left in the series. Questions have been answered, but so many more remain that many long time fans are crying foul. Ever since the Sopranos, fans asked to follow series' painfully slow pace, picking up bread crumbs all along the way, have become wary. They have almost been trained to confront inevitable disappointment. The problem seems to be this type of drama's formula. Television Mysteries Follow Formulas

At Lost's core is the theme: good vs. evil in this case. Then comes the setting: a mysterious, remote island. Then a plane crash delivers the cast. Next, a rough outline is produced. Notice that each episode reveals only one or two important bits of information that generally present themselves at about the same time every episode. The outline is then filled out from there, again, macro to micro; big events down to small details. This outline could indeed make for a very interesting and fast paced two hour movie, but in an effort to construct hours upon hours of episodic television, these new and exciting plot points, full of mystery and dynamic conflict must be surrounded by tangential minutiae, all the while, keeping viewers on the string.

Soon, the entire heart of a series moves away from events of consequence, that thing that brought fans to the series in the first place, and becomes replaced with painstakingly arduous explorations into character history and motivation. Basically, the series becomes a novel put to video. The problem here becomes structure. Screen and teleplays must have a carefully constructed blueprint. Reasons for this range from episode time constraints and the three-act system. Novels do not intrinsically need to adhere to either time consideration or the traditional three-act structure, and this is why series like Lost ultimately fail to impress.

Writer Changes Often Spell Disaster

Of course there are other considerations that keep series like Lost, The Sopranos, Rome, Deadwood, and countless other riffs on the formula, unsatisfactory in the end. Some of these factors include writer changes, network narrative direction input, and the all important ratings factor. Oftentimes these progressive mystery-dramas start to peter out as episodes take on and eliminate writers. The tone of the series changes; the character dialogue devolves and becomes less authentic. Because the macro event outline has already been completed (though sometimes this claim by creators is proven false such as in the case of Lost), a change in writer does not bring in fresh events, but only the execution of them and the details. In other words, there are too many cooks in the kitchen, and the narrative mutates into a parody of its original course.

Successful novels do not work this way, and that is exactly why they ultimately please readers and series such as Lost often do not in the end. Novels are generally written by one author who controls the created world and its characters exclusively, free from network intrusion, and writer substitution. A novel is completely written and produced before it is printed. The plot has a well-defined beginning, middle, and end. Off the evaluation of the completed product, the novel is sold and a first printing is agreed upon. The novel is then offered to consumers who either buy up the stock or do not and send it to the bargain bins. A successful novel can always get a second printing, or a third, or fourth etc. But a progressive mystery drama television series gets one shot, one printing. It is neither completed in full before airing on television, nor is it controlled solely by the creator. Novels are free from budgetary constraints like actor pay retention or exploding set piece costs ala HBO's Rome and Deadwood.

Only Audiences Lose When cost gets out of hand or ratings drop, this taped novel on television is simply and often unceremoniously dropped altogether leaving devoted fans in the dust, feeling cheated that their time and emotional investment has been wasted. If a series of this ilk is allowed to continue, it devolves into the afore mentioned stagnation of backstory and character development. The series either loses steam and evaporates, the cooks in the kitchen try to ignite renewed interest by going back on their original outline and inject new, often inconsistent story arcs. This or the network allows them to complete the final episodes, in which time the thousands of questions inorganically must be met with an abrupt end. Any of these spell disappointment to fans. Lost stands as perhaps the most interesting case because it succumbs to all of these pitfalls. Watch for Lost to go by way of The Sopranos finale; generally panned by audiences, but worse. Lost's finale must be linear and focused on generic plot-points. Due to how they've decided to string viewers along for six years with questions upon impossibly answerable questions, the virtual house of cards will undeniably collapse upon the staggering weight of itself.

A note to networks: Please offer viewers new and interesting self-contained series that already have a beginning, middle and end. Try the BBC model. Have the entire story told in a single season. Plan and film the whole twelve episodes before airing a single one. Off the ratings and narrative strength of that completed story arc, only then decide whether to do a sequel with the same characters and tone, but an all new self-contained story arc. This is the only way to keep prospective audiences interested in these series without inevitably disappointing and jading them. Leave the novels on the page, or at least learn how and why they succeed before attempting to bastardize them for commercial television

Read more at Suite101: Lost Finale Certain to Disappoint

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