The sixth and final season of Lost begins next month, but ABC may have plans to extend the series beyond its natural conclusion. Unwilling to let one of their most lucrative franchises go, the network is considering a spin-off.
For ABC and its parent company Disney, this is the only way out of their Catch-22. Part of what made Lost so successful and arguably revived it after a second season creative slump was the decision to set a definitive end date. Without that promise of eventual resolution, the show might never have grown into the eighth highest rated show of the 2008-09 television season.
But that success came with an expiration date, and ABC is reluctant to say goodbye to so successful a show. Although the more immediate plans for continuing Lost involve multimedia expansion, such as comics, games, special edition DVDs, and the much-rumored "Lost: The Ride", ABC executives ultimately see the franchise's future as being on TV.
An ABC executive explains the network's plans:
"We've been talking about this for a couple of years now," says ABC marketing exec VP Mike Benson. "We want to keep it alive but make sure we maintain the integrity of the franchise. We're not about milking this thing for all that it is right now; it's important to see this live for years to come."
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Lost showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have made it clear that they want nothing to do with any spin-offs or continuations, but ABC executives seem to be prepared to move on without them:
"Damon and Carlton laid such groundwork, it's going to be a challenge for us, and we have to rise to the occasion," [executive Marla] Provencio says. "We have to find different, creative and innovative ways to keep the fans happy and to keep the franchise healthy."
Mike Benson compared ABC's plans for the Lost franchise to what Paramount has been able to do with Star Trek. Their goal is to maintain the basic premise and appeal of the show in new locations with a new cast, and this could be realized through both movies and a new TV show.
Honestly, the idea of a Lost spin-off, whether it's called Lost: The Next Generation, AfterLost, or (shudder) Lo2t, sounds like a bad parody of what shameless network executives would come up with, but here we are. Satire, you are once again obsolete.