“If people like it, why finish it?” Asked the executives.
Producer Damon Lindelof recently delved deep into the tug-of-war with ABC on the ideal extension for the Lost series.
Originally, the showrunner came up with the idea for a narrative that could be resolved in two seasons. However, the company became reluctant to such a plan, as they did not understand why a successful program should say goodbye to television so soon. Finally, the show consisted of six seasons (released between 2004 and 2010) and, as we well know, the final reception was extremely lukewarm, compared to the praise dedicated to its first installments.
In an interview with Collider, Lindelof listed several of the mysteries that abounded in the science fiction series, in addition to the stress that all such puzzles would ideally be solved over the course of two seasons. But ABC did not even remotely think that this was an option.
“There were all these irresistible mysteries and then we’d say, ‘We want these things answered at the end of season one. These things, answered at the end of season two, and the show basically ends after about three years, ‘” said the American. “That was the initial pitch, and they [ABC] didn’t even listen to it. They looked at me in a particular way and said ‘ Do you understand how difficult it is to make a series that people want to see? And if people like it, why end it? You don’t finish the shows that people are watching. ‘
At the end of season two, both Lindelof and Carlton Cuse – both showrunners – approached the chain’s top management again, in order to discuss the renewal of their respective contracts. However, what was really going to be debated was the future of Lost, where the creatives’ stance was still to complete it as soon as possible.
“They [ABC] thought they were in a monetary negotiation, where it was as if we were trying to get more money, and all we were trying to do was get them to agree to end the show,” Lindelof said. “Neither side blinked, so Carlton and I agreed to sign a one-year extension, with the understanding that we would be leaving at the end of the third season and someone else would take command of the series.”
According to the future creator of the Watchmen show, problems were already coming in the matter of flashbacks. These had the function of exposing the origins of each character, but when they were overexploited they became mere ballast. On the other hand, the third season clarified the complications of keeping shipwrecked on the island, under the simple pretext of stretching the story. So for the first time, ABC took the initiative.
“They finally came to the table and we had a real conversation,” said Lindelof. “They said, ‘We agreed to allow them to end the program.’ So I said to Steve McPherson [ABC president] ‘Thank you. This is the best for the show, ‘and he said,’ We were thinking about 10 seasons. ‘ Imagine, we were halfway through the third season, so first: How do you think we will get to ten? It is the same as saying that we will not let you finish the program.”