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ABC bugs 'Lost' fans

Posted by Matthew Gilbert  March 31, 2010 07:45 AM

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There was something obscene about "Lost" last night, namely ABC's promotion of "V" almost continuously throughout the episode. In the lower righthand corner of the screen, the network positioned a little advertising bug -- a digital onscreen graphic -- that had a big red "V" logo, the words "They Return," and a timeclock counting down the minutes until "V" came back from hiatus.

How wrong is that? Very wrong. For one thing, "Lost" fans are "Lost" fans -- that is, we are focused intensely on our complicated show, which we've been waiting a week to see, and which is in its final stretch, and we don't tend to want interruption or distraction. If I had been watching, say, "CSI," I might have been annoyed, but not quite offended. But don't mess with the "Lost." Indeed, I have to wonder if the relentless, ticking "V" clock last night actually stirred resistance and resentment toward "V" in "Lost" viewers. A few times, the bug even got in the way of what was happening in the episode, or the subtitling of Jin and Sun. 

Also, this kind of tacky approach probably works against the networks' ratings goals, in that it only makes watching a TV series online or on DVD even more desirable. OK, most "Lost" fans aren't going to wait until the next day to catch up at abc.com or wherever, but still, bugging a show such as "Lost" is a good way to subconsciously push away real-time and DVR TV viewers. Not so well-played, ABC. I bet the ABC executives were at home congratulating themselves for the last-minute promotional push, while real viewers were cringing and recoiling.

Phew. That feels a little better. Did the bug bug you? It definitely bugged "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof.

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