Columnist lost without Lost

Tony Gorder

Tony Gorder

On May 23, television critics and fans alike will feel a disturbance in their programming schedule, “as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”

I’m talking, of course, about the series finale of one of television’s greatest shows: Lost.

Yes, after six years, the hair-pulling mysteries wrapped in a metaphysical, philosophic and religious subtext will come to an end, and while I am sad to see the show go, I am happy it’s ending on a high note.

Lost premiered in the fall of 2004 and was an instant success, gaining a cult following of loyal fans sometimes referred to as “Losties.”

For those who have not had the privilege of watching Lost (and I suggest you do. All episodes are available free at and, the show centers around a large group of people crash-landed on an island. While it seemed like an action-drama version of Gilligan’s Island at first, the show quickly proved to be more than a simple castaway story and is really a complicated science-fiction fantasy, a character-driven epic touching on themes of science versus faith, good versus evil, reality versus perception and chaos versus order, complete with smoke monsters, polar bears, mysterious whispers, The Others, “miracles”, electromagnetism and enough mysteries and symbolism to keep views analyzing in agony.

Now that’s good television.

The show ran for three seasons before producers and writers sat down and did something unheard of in television. They canceled themselves.

Well, sort of.

The producers of the show realized they would be able to make a better, planned-out story if they had a set end date, and ABC, the network Lost airs on, complied.

“Among fans there was an unease that they were making an investment in a show that’s complicated without any sense of where that’s going to lead them,” co-creator Damon Lindelof said in an 2007 interview with USA Today. “From the very beginning, fans and even critics have been saying, ‘Are you making it up as you go along?'” These sentiments led to the decision to set an end date.

If only more television had this kind of foresight. I applaud both the producers and ABC for this unprecedented and prudent decision. Rather than limp along, like that old dog you know is in pain but don’t have the heart to put down, only to watch it die a slow, painful death