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Things I Hate About TV: ABC's Lost previews

by Erin Martell, posted Feb 26th 2007 11:42AM

Elizabeth Mitchell, LostWhoever creates the promos for Lost needs to start coordinating things with the show's writers, or at least start watching the show. The last few Lost previews have made so many empty promises that I am considering hitting the Mute button on my remote when the ads come on. It should not be possible to over-dramatize the events on a show about plane crash survivors on a bizarre island, but ABC has achieved that feat.

Consider the commercials for last week's episode, "Stranger in a Strange Land." Viewers were told (in all caps and bold lettering, no less) that three big mysteries would be revealed during the episode. Did the show deliver on ABC's promise? Sure, if the meaning behind Jack's tattoos is a big mystery. If kinda, sorta finding out what happened the Cindy and the kids is a big mystery. I am not even sure if there was a third mystery; that's how inaccurate the promo was.

This week, the promo for "Tricia Tanaka is Dead" has amped up the dramatic language. Idle threats like "If you miss this episode, you won't know what everyone is talking about" are featured throughout. I genuinely wish that TV commercials would stop telling me not to miss the first (or last) few minutes of an episode. Creating a lot of buildup towards one scene or event results in an unfair amount of anticipation. Should viewers be sitting through a show waiting for the "good" part of an episode? Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but the most memorable episodes for me have contained total surprises. Whenever I've been lured into having certain expectations of an episode, I have almost always been disappointed.

I also wish that the promos would stop speaking for "everyone." On Thursday mornings, "everyone" is most likely talking about American Idol. The jig is up. The Lost commercials are almost never right about what "everyone" cares about. For example, the "Tricia Tanaka" promo promises "the reunion everyone has waited for." Quite frankly, I am not that jazzed to see Kate and Sawyer catch up with Sayid and the gang. It's great that the show is shifting back to island goings-on, but the reunion is the last thing on my mind.

There is something seriously wrong with a promo department that cannot find the inherent drama of a show like Lost. With elements like brainwashing, kidnapping, and scientific experimentation, is there really a need for hyperbole? I can see having to create fake dramatic tension for shows about everyday life, but Lost? There are a bunch of ridiculously hot people fighting for their lives, dealing with mysterious threats, and battling personal demons. If ABC cannot make a decent commercial about that, they need to throw in the towel.

As a fan, I would rather see a straight scene from next week's episode, without any of the ABC trappings. Perhaps I might join in the fun, however. "This week, on TV Squad: the Lost recap everyone is commenting on! And don't miss the last paragraph!"

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The commercials are supposed to do one thing:

Get you to watch the show. And you watched, right?

The people who produce the commercials pretty much suck though, because they very often try to promise greater things than the episode delivers. Which then lead to a level of disappointment in the consumer, feeding into lower ratings.

If the commercial producers were smart, they'd find a better way pf promoting the show without over-hyping it.

February 27 2007 at 12:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan Buckley

The best LOST one was the Five Answers Will Be Revealed. And on the LOST podcast the executive producers basically tried playing along with the promo department and tell us what those answers were. And of course they couldn't really figure out what the five were. That was pretty funny. They aren't big fans of the promo department, they promise to much. If the two executive producers can't answer the promo questions then something is wrong here.

February 26 2007 at 7:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I noticed that too, about the "three burning questions" last week.

my post about it ... http://bluemag.com/2007/02/22/why-marketing-is-evil-part-239/

February 26 2007 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is like the promos for "ER" -- if the promos are to be believed, every episode is a "very special" one; which of course makes none of them very special.
I'm also quite annoyed by the new "Stay tuned for a special bonus scene from this week's Battlestar Galactica." They show scenes that were supposedly cut for time; but by showing them they've negated the point of cutting them in the first place -- and now they're out of sequence. Why not just show the damned scene in place during the show? Ugh.

February 26 2007 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would tend to agree. It isn't just ABC doing it though NBC is getting pretty bad with Hereos. I would rather see not any promos between episodes show us one small clip or nothing at all.

You are wrong though everyone is on the edge of their seats for the Kate, Sawyer and Mr Echo reunion.

Oh wait :P


February 26 2007 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toby OB

I agree with Malvegil that NBC is the worst with its "Stay tuned for more 'Earl'" or 'Studio 60', 'The Office', whatever.

You know all you're going to get are the credits. You don't even get a closing scene with those credits; not even a promo for the next week's episode, but instead a promo for some other show altogether!

The people who make the promos fall under the same curse as the network suits who make insane scheduling decisions - may they be nibbled to death by ducks!

February 26 2007 at 2:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Something that's been bugging me in recent years for just about every drama (hell, it's not even contained to action shows) is how they tell you when someone's going to die. "Next week: One of these people will die!" Usually, if you're listening to buzz, you hear about who's not signed on for next year and you can figure out who's going to die, or it just totally takes away the shock of a character's death. The writers of shows talk about how they kill characters off for the "realism" or to get the audience emotionally or because they want some "big thing" to happen. Honestly--a death is no longer a "big thing" in a TV show. It seems like you can't get through a season without killing off at least one character per show! And we all know about it beforehand.
The death that probably had the greatest effect on me in TV in the last few years was when Joyce Summers died on Buffy. It was a whole goofy episode about a robot girlfriend and then in the last few minutes Buffy got home and her mom was dead on the couch--totally didn't see it coming. The next episode was the one all about her death, so there was no reason to advertise it for the robot ep. But that's the only one I can remember in the last 7 years that surprised me at all.
All the Lost/Heroes deaths you find out about the week before and if you haven't read too much about it you spend the week trying to figure out which of the most-likely 3 choices will be offed--and you're usually right or disappointed.

February 26 2007 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i took lost off my season pass list, to my season past list. i'll show them! lost is staying out of the top 20 tivo!
i will manually record each week. when i forget to record it because i am that disinterested (i predict 2-3 weeks) it will be fate that i dont watch it anymore.

February 26 2007 at 1:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Save the cheerleader.
Save the world.

It was never really one sentence. They touched on it a little bit in a later episode in a conversation between Hiro and Ando. They need the cheerleader (or Peter needed to absorb her powers) in order to save the world later on.

February 26 2007 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What is worse the writing for the Lost ads or the writing on Lost? hmmm....

February 26 2007 at 12:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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