Lost, for better or worse, was a phenomenon that changed the television. In 2004, when it premiered, shows were predominately drop-in-drop-out, where missing an episode didn’t mean you were lost (heh) next week. Serialized shows were nothing new, with many cable shows like The Sopranos or The Shield dominating ratings. For network stations (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox), it was, for the most part (again, always exceptions). After Lost‘s success, there was a bevy of clones, trying to duplicate the same formula, but failing. Let’s look back on a couple.
First, let’s define a Lost clone. Any hour long drama with a central mystery or mysteries featuring an expansive cast who gradually become connected. Any added storytelling mechanics, flashbacks, flashfowards, etc., are also a bonus. In all fairness, given the time it takes to develop a show, anything debuting in 2005, like Prison Break or Invasion, isn’t considered. Good to go?
The year after Lost premiered (2006 in this case), and once it entered its final season (2010), saw the debut of the most clones (that I can remember at least). The first half was trying to steal a slice of the pie before failing while the latter was trying to establish themselves Lost exited.
In 2006, ABC (home of Lost), debuted The Nine. The pilot showed 9 people held hostage in a bank heist, with the remaining 12 episodes showing, via flashbacks, what brought them to the bank that day. Engaging, no? Even with Lost as a lead in, The Nine failed, pulled from the air in November. On the plus side, this had Tim Daly (Superman – Superman: TAS) and Chi McBride. Fox’s answer was Vanished, dealing with the sudden disappearance of the wife of a Georgia Senator. Aside from outraging fans by changing leads mid stream, the major death note was going against a new, popular show (we’ll get to it in a minute). The show was pulled, with the last four episodes airing on MySpace. The disappearance mystery was solved, but all other plots were left dangling.
NBC had not one, but two attempts at the Lost crown in 2006. First was Heroes (the competitor mentioned a moment ago). The first season of Heroes was amazing, bringing superheroes to mainstream audiences before the 2008 Iron Man boom. People with powers were springing up across the world (think X-Men), slowly connecting. Even now, I still recommend watching the first season. Too afraid to pull the trigger in the finale, the show quickly went down hill, limping to a slow death after four seasons. NBC also had Kidnapped, which was essentially an episode of Law & Order spread across a season. The show tanked after 3 episodes, being yanked from air. This failure had another Superman: TAS alum, Dana Delany (Lois Lane).
Next, we have the failed successors. ABC launched two shows in 2009, knowing their cash cow was ending in 2010. First was FlashForward, which if this wasn’t a direct ripoff of Lost, I don’t know what is. Everyone, the world over, simultaneously blacked out for 137 seconds, given a vision of their lives six months from then. This had Dominic Monaghan from Lost, so that’s a bonus, right? Eventually the show was cancelled, but was at least allowed to finish the full 22 episode season, reaching the point of the flashforward date. People protested the cancellation by laying down in front of ABC HQ. They probably didn’t know there’s a book.
ABC’s other attempt was V, a remake of the 1983 show. This had aliens visiting Earth peacefully before it was discovered they had hidden ulterior motives. Not only was V anchored by Lost alum, the gorgeous Elizabeth Mitchell, but featured two members from Firefly, the equally beautiful Morena Baccarin and always entertaining Alan Tudyk. V had a delay in production, airing 4 episodes in November, remaining off the air for 4 months, killing its momentum. Ultimately, it was cancelled after 2 seasons.
Finally, there’s The Event from NBC. With a name as pretentious as The Event, how could it not fail? This garbage also had something about aliens and conspiracies, Area 51 type stuff. Wow was it terrible.
Despite how I, and many, feel about Lost‘s ending, it certainly left its mark, inspiring a bunch of crap imitators. Honestly, this is why I rarely watch a new show when it premiers. I don’t have time to waste on this nonsense. Yes, I know, I’m part of the problem. But in these cases, I was part of the solution.
What was your favorite Lost clone? Any I missed? Comment below!
The Constant is one of the best episodes of television, ever.