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LOST Ratings preview with minor spoilers

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January 17th, 2009

The long wait is almost over. LOST returns this Wednesday at 9pm with a two-hour season premiere.

The key numbers to focus on are probably last year's season premiere and season finale. I've noted them below with both the final live plus same day DVR numbers and live plus seven days worth of DVR viewing.

LOST Live+SD (000) Live+7 (000)
Season four premiere 16,137 17,766
Season four finale 12,303 13,991

As you can see, LOST continued to bleed away viewers last season, and really by about 5 episodes in it had bled off to the level of the finale (a bit less, actually). But during its run LOST was typically the most-watched show via DVR outside of American Idol.

There's really nothing to make of the numbers one way or the other because there is already a course plotted to the end of LOST - it will run another season after this year. It would take a series of events even more unlikely than what actually occurs on the show LOST for that not to work out, so fans of the show don't need to fret about the ratings, whatever they are. It would probably have to fall below a 3.0 rating among 18-49 year olds, and I see no chance of that. Last year's finale had a 4.9 rating among 18-49 year olds, though that was off significantly from the 6.7 rating among 18-49 year olds for the premiere.

But, regardless of whether the ratings are particularly important in the case of LOST, it's fun for some of us to speculate about them anyway. My guess is that the season premiere will draw in a few more viewers than last season's finale with close to a 5.0 rating with the 18-49 year old crowd. But, things are a bit different this year. There is no writer's strike and last year LOST aired on Thursdays, against reruns for a good portion of its run.

This year it's on Wednesdays and will Face Off against Criminal Minds on CBS, Lie To Me on Fox, and Law & Order: SVU on NBC. Lie To Me will have the huge lead-in from American Idol, so it should be interesting to see how that shakes out.

Update: Lie To Me will run at 9pm for the premiere and at least an episode after that, once Idol is back in its in-studio competition phase, Lie To Me will move to 8pm and American Idol will be air against LOST at 9pm. It still should be interesting...

I watched the screener for the two hour season five premiere of LOST on Christmas Eve, and I'll watch it again in HD on the big screen this week. I enjoyed the premiere, though if you're looking for some more OMFG moments, you might be disappointed. The premiere seemed to serve as more of a set-up than a vehicle to reveal much that you didn't already know. But to the degree you wish to avoid any spoilers whatsoever, now is your last chance to look away!

If you already concluded that when the island was moved in last year's finale, it wasn't an issue of where it moved, but when it moved, then there are no spoilers here. If all the focus on time-travel, last year, particularly the wonderful well-done episode, "The Constant" didn't tip you off to the fact that time travel plays a central role in LOST, than the premiere will certainly reveal that much.

Mostly, I think LOST is just a show about the human struggle, and it captures it marvelously. All the preposterous stuff is just a backdrop to develop how different people handle difficult circumstances differently. Overall, I think they've done a brilliant job of that. I'm not one who believes in the tooth fairy, or time travel, or faster than light travel. The tooth fairy doesn't interest me much, but I love fictional treatment of time travel and faster-than-light travel.

While time travel seems to be at least theoretically scientifically possible, even if it is, it seems like it would require more energy than we'll ever figure out how to harness. Still, I love the fictional treatment of time travel whether it's Back to the Future or Star Trek.

With time travel as a backdrop, who knows what twists and turns the show will take? I hope they won't abuse the ability to play around with timelines. If last season's "The Constant" was any indication, I'd rate the handling of it as artistic.

 
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