The new season of "Lost" has been energized with new castmembers, such as Ken Leung, left, joining regulars Evangeline Lilly and Naveen Andrews.
Creative twist puts ‘Lost’ back in Top 10
The writers strike might have gouged the television industry to the tune of billions of dollars, but "Lost" is faring quite well, thanks to strong writing and a fortuitous season beginning in February. Ratings soared for the premiere, and the next week the ABC show again landed solidly in the Top 10, when Nielsen Media Research reported 15.2 million viewers.
And who wouldn't want to watch, now that the stories have become even more rich and layered? Executive producer and director Jack Bender, speaking from Los Angeles, acknowledged that the show took a few hits from critics last year, but now it's back, better than ever.
Key to that has been the flash-forward -- telling the stories of characters once they supposedly get off the island. The concept "was one of those great creative left turns, when suddenly the right turn doesn't become possible," said Bender, who credited Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse with constructing the tale. "They were going another way for the finale at the end of Season 3, and for various reasons it didn't work out. ... But we never wanted 'Lost' to get locked into one storytelling device."
It was flashbacks -- telling the back-stories of main characters -- that helped set the show apart in its first two years. Ironically, that notion for a network show lacked support. "The idea that we were going to have flashbacks become an essential part of the storytelling of 'Lost' was a gamble," he said, "but obviously it was a gamble that paid off big time."
Written like a novel and profoundly character-driven, the show focuses on a group of people more lost in their previous lives than they are on this dangerous island. "It's basically about how we get along in the world and how we survive," Bender said.
It also helps that a distinct end is in sight, two years hence -- an unprecedented declaration for a hit television show.
Eight out of 16 shows for this season have been completed, and Bender said shooting should begin again on March 10. The story arc will be squeezed into five more episodes before the hiatus -- necessary for actors with feature film commitments -- begins in early May. Since producers contracted with ABC for three more seasons of 16 episodes, including this one, Bender said the deficit will be made up in subsequent years.
Aside from the challenge of gathering equipment and props released during the strike (for instance, will the freighter be available?), Bender said, "our team is reassembling, and everybody's incredibly fired up and excited."