Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Finale Solution

Look, it's an enhanced Lost episode.

Remember yesterday when I said that networks are not burdened by an overabundance of brains?  Well, I didn't steal that line for nothing.   For every Lost that makes it on the air (that would be one), there are a million-bazillion stupid decisions made in order to keep everything else bland and boring.  Last night I was witness to a doozy of a decision called the Lost Enhanced Experience.  This was a show designed by a clueless PR department for no one in particular.  I want to thank ABC, because they kept me from staying up too late on Last Lostmas Eve, while also saving me two hours today, because they actually managed to make the Lost pilot, two of the finest hours of television ever produced, all but unwatchable.

How unwatchable?  Click 'read more' and find out...

It was called an enhanced episode, but what it was, was a pop-up video.  It was the Lost pilot, in all its glory, and they aired it with pop-up balloons filled with either too much or too little information, depending upon your perspective.  I had seen a few of these 'enhanced' episodes before, so I knew what I might be getting into.  But something about the promotion this time led me to believe it would be something different from (read: better than) the "This is Jack.  He likes to fix things, as seen in Seasons 1-6, Episodes 1-119" pop-ups they had used before.  Previously, on a Lost enhanced episode, the information was always presented in such a way as to be just distracting enough onscreen to keep you from following what was happening on the show, but non-specific enough so as to actually give you no information at all.  They read like something that had been written by a marketing department intern.   

Well, last night was a little different from those previous pop-up episodes.  It was worse.  What they did this time was give you a whole lot of information you didn't need, as opposed to just a little information you didn't need.  Each pop-up went and on and on (without actually saying anything you didn't already know), and so by the time you finished reading one, whatever scene was playing behind it had moved on.  You couldn't follow the show at all if you were hoping to get something out of the pop-ups, while the pop-ups themselves merely told you things even a casual Lost fan would already know. 

But wait, you say.  What about for those of us who are not Lost fans?  What about those of us who might be a tad bit confused if we plan on checking out the finale on Sunday without having ever really watched the show before?  

Well, for those who have never seen Lost, you just had the experience really ruined for you.  The information you received was basic enough to sound stupid (This is Jack... moments after the crash of flight 815.  Jack fell from the plane... into this bamboo field.  This field is an important location... on the island.  Just beyond the field and over a ridge... lies the heart of the island.) and just detailed enough to ruin certain plot points that you probably don't want to know about before they are actually revealed in the show 118 episodes from now!

And if you have never watched Lost, exactly what are you thinking when right off the bat they start telling you about the 'heart of the island'?  Does that make any sense at all, or are you just rolling your eyes and thanking the gods that you never did try to watch this show before?

Do the ABC marketing whizzes understand that if they convince people to start watching Lost beginning with this Sunday's final episode, then they are going to kill their DVD sales?  You can write all the pop-ups in the world about the heart, liver and kidneys of the island, and that's not going to give anyone near the type of info they would need in order to understand anything going on during the final two and a half hours of the show.  And since the pop-ups are so distracting as to totally overwhelm the action going on behind them, a new watcher is also not going to become remotely absorbed by the most gripping pilot any show has aired in decades.  

It's lose-lose when it comes to new viewers, ABC.  If you wanted to do something moronic, maybe you guys should have saved us all time and just called up Lloyd Braun and fired him all over again.

If you wanted new viewers for Lost, then running the pilot was a good idea.  Maybe someone inundated by all the promotion going on for the finale during the past month might actually have decided to check out the pilot episode last night just to see what the shouting has been about.  That would have worked gangbusters, because I don't know anyone who has ever seen that pilot and not said, "I want to find out what happens next."  

But if you did manage to draw those newbies in, you made it impossible for them to actually watch the show.  And to top if off, you gave them info that, out of context, sounded ridiculous enough to turn them off completely, yet was often from so far down the run of show so as to ruin any number of mysteries that could have kept them interested and buying DVD set after DVD set until they got to the end. ("This is a mystical island that heals people and has smoke monsters and lots of people with daddy issues, and this character and this character and this character are all going to die eventually, and here is the exact season, episode number, and episode title where that happens, so that you never need to watch it.").

So, the enhanced experience was a colossal waste of time if you were a die hard Lost fan, as the above cited pop-up was actually more interesting than any other I saw in the fifteen minutes I watched (typical example: "This is Vincent...Walt's dog... also a survivor of the crash of Oceanic 815."), and they still hit you with the "as seen in Season One, Episode 104, Walkabout" nonsense, as if you were going to rush to your local Blockbuster and rent that exact episode.  And while checking out Walkabout might actually be a good idea for someone, who exactly needs to know that something happened in, say, Season Three, Episode 308, Meet Kevin Johnson?  What does that piece of info do for either a die hard or a newbie? 

And they did all of this after each tidbit of non-information.  They list the season, the episode number, then the episode title.  And by the time you just read that bit of info that you don't need and will never use, Sawyer has already taken his shirt off and put it back on, and you missed it!

Just monumentally disappointing and completely counterproductive.  The info wasn't detailed or interesting enough to do anything but distract a fan of the show, while it had enough info contained within it to sound ridiculous to a newbie, and to also ruin certain major plot points for said newbie, so there was really no reason for him to go out and buy the DVDs and start watching from the beginning.

Yeah, these are the people that fired the guy who developed and green-lit one of the biggest moneymakers in television history.

The more things change...

1 comment:

  1. Nail head meet hammer. You hit this one, Schmoker. I tried to watch and it was worthless. I ended up turning off the tube and sticking in Season One on DVD. I cannot imagine someone new to Lost beginning their experience by watching either that "enhanced" pilot last night or the finale tonight. Completely counterproductive.