THIS IS THE END, MY FRIEND: The TV Critics Association convened this weekend, and the first big question posed by the hacks to the producers of their favorite shows was when they planned to make themselves unemployed. (Writers, you see, like to imagine that other people are as close to financial distress as they are, despite the superior magnitudes of the paycheques everyone they cover takes home.)
Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse was reported in Variety saying that the show’s producers and writers are already talking about the end, if only to help map their way out of the show’s morass of plotlines, mysteries and red herrings.
"It's time for us to find an endpoint to the show," said Cuse,. "It's a struggle for us, because we don't know if we have three years, four years or more to go. If we had an endpoint, then we could figure out where everything goes."
The key, especially for a show such as Lost, is keeping viewers engaged with a plot built on the idea that anything can happen, be it supernatural events or the death of key cast members. "The worst point is when a show ends and no one cares." said Cuse. "We don't want that to happen. We want to make the shows good for as long as we do the show."
Cuse invoked the little-known but probably definitive "X-Files Law," describing it as "a great show that probably lasted two seasons too long." Probably?
The end for Lost will be somewhere between five and seven seasons, according to Cuse, while Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry was quoted in the Orlando Sentinel giving his show a definite expiry date, and hoping fervently that he’ll be there for the end.
"ABC can't bulldoze me out of that show," said Cherry. "What's sad is, I want it to run seven years. And the moment seven years is past, I will personally take down the sets. For me, it's like that's how protective I am of this. I'm only going to have one major hit. I'm only going to catch lightning in a bottle once. I wish I had the energy to develop and write at the same time, but I don't. This is going to be on my tombstone. I'll be d----- if I don't protect it."
The deletion at the end of Cherry’s quote has me mystified. Did the Sentinel actually delete the word "damned?" Frankly, I didn’t imagine such quaintness was possible, and I instinctually substituted increasingly arcane – and obscene – words that began with "d" into Cherry’s quote before realizing that, at least in one part of Florida, Clark Gable’s kiss-off line at the end of Gone With The Wind is routinely cut for broadcast, rivers and lakes are contained with "darns," cows aren’t allowed to graze without wearing shapeless sweaters to cover their udders, and Deadwood is a 22-minute show from which Ian McShane’s character is entirely absent.