Ranking the TV shows of JJ Abrams

Feature Rob Kemp 15 Nov 2013 - 07:00

With Almost Human arriving soon, Rob compares the merits of ten JJ Abrams-produced TV shows, from Lost, to Alias, Revolution, and more...

Warning: contains spoilers for Revolution, and Lost.

Most would agree, JJ Abrams has had a successful career which has gone from strength to strength. Undoubtedly, Star Wars now offers an opportunity for him to reach a creative zenith, but represents also his largest risk. His stylistic choices may not be to everyone’s tastes and he himself admits that there are elements over which he has an obsession (lens flares & secrecy) but these are still a matter of personal taste (I’m ambivalent over the former, and truly appreciate the latter). All that aside, outside his burgeoning film directing career, as an executive producer Abrams has been responsible for an incredible amount of television in a very small space of time. To place him into context, other great TV execs like David E Kelly, (L.A Law, Ally McBeal, The Practice, Boston Legal), Donald P. Bellisario, (Airwolf, Magnum P.I, Quantum Leap, JAG and NCIS), Stephen J Cannell, (Rockford Files, The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street) have all had significant hits – but arguably not as many in the relatively short time that Abrams has been going. To be clear, I’m not saying that he’s already the most prolific nor I am saying he’s become the most significant - an honour that surely must go to great Aaron Spelling (Mod Squad, S.W.A.T, Starksy and Hutch, Charlie’s Angels, Fantasy Island, Hart to Hart, T.J Hooker, The Love Boat, Dynasty, Melrose Place, Beverley Hills, 90120 and Charmed).  However, in the relatively short time that Abrams has been producing, he has built an impressive legacy.

With that in mind, let's take a look back at ‘his’ (Abrams-produced) series and - why not? - rank them from one to ten. Why? Because we all like lists, and we all like to be opinionated - but also he has a new series starting shortly, Almost Human, and it’s an appropriate time as any to look back over his past achievements. Criteria for separating the best from the worst comes down to many factors – writing, story, cultural impact, legacy, acting. It certainly won’t be to everybody’s tastes but hopefully the arguments will be compelling, otherwise I’m sure I’ll hear from you on the feedback below! One thing I will point out is that just because a show gets cancelled doesn’t mean that it is of lesser quality than those that get a full run, it’s just because it might be ahead of its time…

10. What About Brian (2006-2007)

Let’s get one thing straight, JJ Abrams has never produced a terrible show. Each of the shows on this list has something, maybe it’s the writing or the acting or even just the concept. None of them are downright unwatchable. That’s important because although What About Brian had a limited run (only two seasons) it still managed to attract a fan following. The story is untypically Abrams in that it focuses on the ordeal of a man who sees his friends find love and move on with their lives. There were no fantastical or unexplained elements, no secret societies and no polar bears. It’s likely that despite his executive producer credit, it was actually Dana Stevens (writer of City of Angels and wife of Michael Apted) who was the primary creative control.  Regardless, the show’s mixed reviews suggested that it was marmite viewing, which also stretched to the criticisms of the actors themselves with some describing the cast as charmless whilst others praised their ability to askew sterotypes. However, the chief reason why it’s rooted at the bottom of this list, is that it’s nothing special. That’s not to say it didn’t receive some critical praise, but its ambition was limited, and despite Abrams' involvement, it is the one on this list that could have been made by anyone - it doesn’t feel like an Abrams production and in many ways is much the poorer for it.

9. Six Degrees (2006-2007)

On the face of it, Six Degrees does at least sound like a JJ Abrams high concept show in that the title refers to the six degrees of separation that supposedly link everyone to everybody else. But when hearing this concept connected with the Abrams we all know and love now – your first assumptions are likely to be along the lines of a government genetic experiment gone wrong, a historical mystery with Indiana Jones overtones or maybe a bodysnatchers-style story that examines the human condition whilst exploiting every bit of tension from the resulting paranoia. No, no and unfortunately no. What we do get is a story that focuses on a bunch of individuals whose immediate connection is not apparent and in a Crash / Magnolia like structure we get to understand the links and chance encounters that impact all of us. Okay – so it's maybe not a ‘popular’ audience-winning concept as some of those mentioned above, but unlike What About Brian, I could see the potential this would have for Abrams to push numerous twists and turns with unexpected reveals and interesting characters.

Unfortunately for Six Degrees, it was played straight, and suffered for it. It received mostly negative reviews and didn’t survive the first season. In fact, so bad was the critical response and the viewing figures, although 13 episodes were made, only 8 were actually aired. Again, JJ Abrams can’t possibly take all the flak for the show, as it wasn’t created by him, that honour went to Raven Metzner and Stuart Zicherman (both of whom were consulting producers on What About Brian although their creative relationship with JJ Abrams seemingly ended there). Why then, does this not come bottom of the list when considering it’s critical mauling? Simple – when you watch the show, you can see the ambition that it had, it just didn’t have a chance to accomplish it. It importantly also portends a reoccurring element in other Abrams shows – most famously in Lost, where the drama brings together a disparate group of strangers through fate/luck. I’m not saying that this was Abrams' intent when he produced Six Degrees, but there was something in that concept, the ambition in narration and character development that stayed with him. And for that, Six Degrees deserves a smidgeon of credit and recognition.

8. Undercovers (2010-2011)

Or the one that isn’t Alias. You can’t deny the resemblances. Over and above its ‘spy’ trapping there’s its central concept of a ‘family’ involvement set against a covert environment that would expectedly have reveals, twists and issues with identity. Maybe it was going for familiarity before branching out into something different - but we’ll never know as it didn’t get beyond its first few episodes (13 episodes were filmed, 11 were aired). Although it met with a mixed critical response the ratings were poor, perhaps due to people expecting and then being disappointed that despite the resemblance this was not Alias. However, unlike Brian and Six Degrees, this was not only executively produced by Abrams but created by him as well, it was also the first TV series since Lost in which he directed the pilot. The two leads, Boris Kodjoe (Resident Evil) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (otherwise known as the sister of Martha Jones in Doctor Who) were also pretty strong – but despite this pedigree it would appear that people simply wanted Alias 2, and in this respect Undercovers, albeit unfairly, disappointed. 

7. Revolution (2012- )

Revolution has the dubious honour of being the lowest-placed currently airing show on this list. This obviously comes with a health warning in that Revolution could, by the end of its run, be the best show Abrams has ever produced. Equally, the end of its run could only be a dozen or so episodes away. The problem with Revolution is that despite a good concept it spent a really, really long time to get going. It’s first season was a 20 episode arc that was crying out to be chopped down to 12. Also, and lets be truthful, does anyone actually care about the characters? They’re not particularly charismatic, even Billy Burke’s anti-hero Miles Matheson, who was rather good at the beginning, imbuing his character with a high level of ambiguity and distrust, was transformed by season’s end by becoming boringly good and wholesome (a change that took some swallowing considering the actions of his past). Also, was I the only one to be disappointed when the reason for the lights being turned off was revealed as nanites? In that one reveal, gone was the cool Lost-like vibe that occurred at the end of the first episode when Grace turned the computer on, gone was the mystery and with it much of the interest that the show had generated til that point. In many ways it was a direct response to Lost’s critics that highlighted the lack of answers and drawn-out plots.

Why then is this better than the others lower down the list? Well, despite its descent into mediocrity there are moments when Revolution shows what it should and still could be. The unknown reason for the slaughter on the mysterious level 12, (and 24 fans everywhere smiled when they realised that Aaron was responsible!), the great Giancarlo Esposito who steals just about every scene he’s in, swords (there are just not enough shows with swords in them!) and its ability to kill off characters that creates both shock and an audience uncertainty over just who will survive are all elements that give me hope that Revolution can improve.  There are glimpses already in the second season that some lessons have been learnt but lets hope Revolution gets a chance to get it right, unlike some other shows...

6. Alcatraz (2012)

When the publicity for Alcatraz first started to emerge it felt like that it was being billed as the natural successor to Lost. In all fairness, the story with its focus on a mysterious unexplained event set against a background of experiments and utilising effective flashbacks did have more than a passing resemblance to Lost, not to mention the presence of Jorge Garcia. Unfortunately Alcatraz shared another Lost trait, it didn’t want to rush explanations and the season seemed to be just question after question which even the final episode failed to answer. You could argue that Lost was no better, but it went on to be the phenomenon it was, while Alcatraz was cancelled just one season in. Alcatraz may have suffered from Lost fatigue (the thought of wading through multiple seasons before there was any satisfactory answers) or even the blacklash from that show’s poorly received conclusion. I think it’s a real pity though, because there were some really good elements within the show; Sam Neill was great, the flashbacks effective and the overall concept interesting enough to want to find out those answers that were only tantalising glimpsed in the final 45 minutes. I wonder if Abrams had waited a few years, giving it greater distance between it and Lost,  that the show may have had a better reception or at least the chance of another season to expand upon the interesting mythology that it had created.

5. Person Of Interest 2011 – 2013

Person of Interest is probably more well known for the name of Nolan (albeit Jonathan rather than Christopher) than JJ Abrams, but it has the latter's fingerprints all over it. Conspiracies – tick,  fast paced action – tick, strong characterisation – tick.  It is also a show that knows exactly what people want, yes there’s mystery but not to the detriment of what makes the show enjoyable, which is largely down to the characterisation and Jim Caviezel’s portrayal of John Reese and the strong relationship he’s developed alongside the brilliant Michael Emmerson. Who’d have thought that Emmerson could so easily banish the memories of Ben Linus with pretty much the very next show he did? That’s not the only element to enjoy, the concept itself has a very 80s ‘help a person down on their luck/need protecting’ vibe and yet also incorporates the now-standard season-long story arcs and expansive sub-plots that make Person of Interest appeal to a broad audience. Nor can we forget the strong supporting talent, especially Taraji Henson (Det. Carter) and Kevin Chapman (Harold Finch) whose banter and interaction with Reese remains a constant highlight.

There is a note of caution about Person of Interest in that despite the multiple narrative devices it uses, I’m not entirely convinced how it can go on indefinitely in its current guise. It might be that a major change to the story or its concept (and we know Abrams is more than capable of that – see both Lost and Fringe’s fifth seasons for show altering changes) may make this drop down the list. However, for now it continues to fly high and must be considered one of the most enjoyable, thrilling and fun hours on television.

4. Alias 2001 – 2006

I would argue that despite successes with Felicity, Alias was the show that truly established Abrams and set him on his path, although I doubt very much that anyone knew that at the time. It was perhaps the first of his shows that established a rabid fan base, which turned out to be crucial because the studio (ABC) had a hard time knowing just what to do with it and frequently changed airing dates in an attempt to tie in with a consistently criticised studio line-up. Its success could be considered even more special when you understand that the protagonist was a woman, and the show’s complicated plots were wrapped in layers of conspiracy with constant twists and turns that created a dense mythology that was simply not for the faint-hearted. Lets face it, Alias was not a show where the audience could casually jump in and out of episodes. It was very much a 'start from the beginning, strap yourself in, and lets see where we end up' deal. The key there is that the central concept and pace kept those early adopters so hooked that that always came back for more, and the show catered for them accordingly, (which sounds eerily like another Abrams show – Fringe). 

Apart from its success, just why is it then that Abrams became so well-known through this show?  Well it may not have been his first, but it’s probably the one that contains what we now come to understand as quintessential Abram stylistic tics. Complicated plots, reoccurring themes (deception, family, identity) macguffins, well staged set-pieces and strong ensemble acting were all in there. Despite the critical and fan acclaim, Alias is much more than a good show. Its fan base also made Abrams a genre show maker. The attention that was suddenly thrust upon him certainly opened doors onto bigger and better things.  The story goes that he was offered Mission Impossible III as a direct result of Tom Cruise becoming an avid fan of Alias, and the rest – as they say – is history. 

3. Felicity 1998 – 2002

Felicity is probably the show that most people forget Abrams produced, especially over here in the UK where it did not the reach the status of ‘phenomenon’ as it did in the States. Similar to Six Degrees, it had no pretension at being anything other that what it was – simply a show about a girl called Felicity, who had just started university in New York. Very much in the coming-of-age mould, it was about how she dealt with love (the constant is she/won’t she go for Ben or Noel), friends and generally growing up. To be honest, that doesn’t exactly sound special – in fact it sounds like one of the many American teenage dramas that are imported on a frequent basis. What made Felicity special was her characterisation. Keri Russell played her with a playfulness,  determination and that all important honesty not typically associated with that type of show. Such an impression was made that Entertainment Weekly voted her as one of the top 100 greatest characters in the last twenty years and Time included the show in its top 100 of all time.

Those still waiting for the catch - won’t be surprised to learn that Abrams' first show did indeed have some of his hallmarks. I would recommend the episode, Help for the Lovelorn in which it ventures into decidedly Twilight Zone territory in that there is a clinic that removes people’s hearts so that they don’t have to feel love. If that isn’t strange enough, the show was given an additional five episodes at the end of its run – okay that not particularly strange but what Abrams did with them was. They had already wrapped up the main storyline with Felicity's lovelife, so JJ saw the additional episodes as an opportunity and decided to go for a sliding doors approach, and opted to send Felicity back in time to see what would happen if Felicity had chosen otherwise. That’s right – time travel in a coming-of-age teen drama. I bet nobody saw that coming.

It’s importance is therefore different to Alias. Alias undoubtedly set Abrams on his way to bigger and better things. Felicity wasn’t exactly a sand box – but it could be argued that it gave Abrams not just his introduction to TV, but also his confidence to be different and for what came later – that’s got to be significant.

2. Fringe 2008-2013

Fringe started life as an Abrams X-Files, and finished as something completely different. Its early seasons, particularly its first, aptly deserve comparisons with The X-Files as the monster-of-the-week nature of the show was unabashedly similar. However, instead of the popular UFO mythology, Fringe went... elsewhere. Alternate dimensions had been done before (Sliders), but not with any degree of seriousness. Yet Fringe is not a serious show despite the many dark and serious matters it covered. I feel that the show knew and understood its audience and that since The X-Files had left the air, there was a significant appetite that needed to be fed. I’ve already mentioned that shows like Alias were a difficult sell for anyone just to jump in half way through a season (or even an episode for that matter). You had to buy in right from the off, but if you did, the rewards were plentiful and this is where Fringe truly shone. The confidence in the storytelling allowed the show and the actors to try new things, episodes like Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (Season 3 Ep. 19) where the characters become animated and Betty Brown (Season 2 Ep. 20) essentially a musical episode made the show special in ways that made its contemporaries look decidedly ordinary (especially those airing on Syfy) .

There was another reason for its confidence, and that came from one of the finest casts ever assembled for a show of this kind. It could have so easily have been the Walter (John Noble) show, but with strong support from Joshua Jackson, Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole as well as Michael Cerveris and Jared Harris as the great David Robert Jones the show had strength in depth. It was needed, as that strength was regularly tested by some challenging and complicated plot arcs that similarly tested the audience in keeping up with the basic who, what, why and in what dimension. What Fringe did that so many shows failed to do (even The X-Files faltered in the end) was in the maintenance of its quality. The show had an interesting, compelling overarching mythology that was as great, or greater than its already excellent monster of the week episodes. In fact many of Fringe’s best episodes are mythology based including, Subject 13, Grey Matters and the masterful Peter to name but a few.

But lets not forget what Fringe did at its close. Saved for another season, the showrunners (and with all credit to the studio, Fox) decided not to extend the mythology running in season four, but to change everything. Absolutely everything. It worked, and although at times it was frustrating – especially the ending that doesn’t entirely satisfy all that’s come before it.  But that’s what Fringe did best, surprise and confound, it made us laugh and at times it made us cry but it’s quality rarely dipped and will be a show that will undoubtedly be a genre standard for years to come.

1. Lost 2004 - 2010

Which leaves the big one, Lost. Lost became a phenomenon that for the most lived up to its hype and then suffered a less-than ceremonious landing. I suppose the real question is that should an entire show be burnt by the way in which it ended. Before I answer that, can we all yet agree that it did end badly? True, it didn’t fade to black, and it did give us a resolution… of sorts. I feel that in Lost’s case the show, its legacy, its narrative, its actors and their performances outweigh the impact of those last few hours and by so doing - can arguably be recognised as the jewel in Abrams' crown.

A lot of words have been written about what made Lost so good, and I won’t go into that level of detail here. But I will point out a few of things that, for me, were the root of its strengths. Firstly, it had a concept that was simple: a bunch of people land on a mysterious island. Then Abrams and co. created a mythology that was interesting, exciting and addictive. Because no one knew exactly what was going on, the audience was always left on the edge of their seat wondering just how it all fit together. The real skill was that the show runners managed to keep this interest for so long, feeding the audience titbits that just whetted their appetite for more.  We can’t forget the actors either – three in particular, Jorge Garcia, Terry O’Quinn and the brilliant Michael Emerson. A reoccurring element in the best of Abrams shows was that he ensured that there was a strong ensemble cast, and Lost was the poster child in how to get ensemble acting right, with Garcia, O’Quinnn and Emerson well derserving in all the accolades and awards that they received. Lastly, and an element that often goes missed is Michael Giacchino’s music for the show. It was iconic and fitted so well with the meaning and intent of the show that it’s become an indelible element of its success - just see the moment when the Hatch lights up or the launching of the raft during Exodus in Season 1.  

Perhaps the real strength of any show is in the journey in which it takes the audience. Those journeys are ultimately punctuated by moments and its these little bits of the whole that we hang onto and upon which ultimately make an impression.  What other show on this list (and any other – but that’s a different article for another day) comes anywhere near the astonishing reveal that Locke was a wheel chair bound factory worker (Season 1, Walkabout) or the indelible moment when the hatch light comes on (Season 1, Deus Ex Machina) or where the showed played its own conventions against itself  and finished a season on a ‘flash forward’, (Season 3, Through the Looking Glass) or the shock when Michael shoots Libby and Ana Lucia (Season 2, Two for the Road) or when we realised that we had just seen perhaps one of the best genre television episodes for this or any other series, (Season 4, The Constant).

 Almost Human is next – and where this will fit on the list no one yet knows. I feel the trailers have yet to convince, and there’s part of me that can’t help but go back to that Friends Episode, The One With Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E. and hopes that as soon as the pilot airs those thoughts and comparisons will be forgotten. It does have Karl Urban and we know that he can be good – so there’s certainly hope. But also, it’s JJ Abrams. I think, looking at the list above, he deserves a great deal of credit for what he’s done and similarly, a lot of attention for what he does next…

Almost Human starts on Fox on Sunday the 17th of November in the US.

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Load of rubbish. POI and Fringe are both better than that overrated tripe Lost.

I've not watched Felicity or the bottomg 2 so I can't comment but I would rate Undercovers over Revolution because the characters were likeable though the latter has a more interesting concept; they did hint at something through the former and especially at the end. I'd probably move it above Alcatraz too: the initial concept is interesting but even after the first couple of episodes (the ones I've watched) it didn't really click or actually feel compelling enough.

I would probably put Fringe above Lost but it's close; the drama and characterisation in the latter was superb making the ride very enjoyable but they did stretch it out and the resolution wasn't completely satisfactory; the former is just more consistently interesting.

I seem to remember a character called Olivia who was central to Fringe and an actress called Anna Torv who was superb in the role. Perhaps this was a different Fringe (or you are just recalling the abomination that was the fifth season).

Yes, no mention of her at all isn't right.

Yes I was just about to say that too. Maybe she only existed in our universe and not the reviewers

agreed. I thought she was fantastic in the role.

Fringe was far superior to lost.

I've watched most of these shows, of which the ones produces later in his career specifically because of them being JJ Abrams shows.
This is immediately my biggest gripe.

Felicity was original because it was different (just like Ally McBeal was for the legal genre) and immediately better than it's contemporaries (e.g. party of five).
Alias was amazing because it had a non-standard episode structure, hard to predict plot twists that made more sense than most other spy drama's (la femme nikita comes to mind).
Lost and Fringe just had the great concepts with a perfect execution through storytelling and acting. I personally felt both endings were mis-handled. However, when you set the bar as high as these shows do - its just hard to do it right.

But after that it went downhill. Undercover was just Alias-Light, Persons of Interest just felt like it didn't use the potential of the premise. Alcatraz did the same: great premise, lousy execution story wise. and revolution.... well that is just a great premise thrown away. (the other two are throw away tuesday evening filler - not worthy of including in the rest).

In conclusion - JJ Abrams has a nack for creating a compelling premise. After that its very dependant on the writing team whether they can deal with it appropriately.

Seeing the work some of the lost/fringe writers dit after those shows (specifically Damon Lindeloff on Prometheus) it shows that it was a group effort and not a one-man-show.

Alltogether, I'd put Alias, Fringe and Lost at the top (as 3, 2, and 1 respectively)

Umm..., why is POI listed as 2011-2013? It's still currently airing new eps on CBS atm. O.o

Yeah, I noticed that too. Also, Kevin Chapman plays Lionel Fusco, not Harold Finch ;)

Lost was the first "proper" sort of TV drama that I ever got into, so it'll always have a very nostalgic place in my heart. Looking back at it now I can see that it wasn't objectively as fantastic as I found it to be at the time, but I'd still say it gets more hate than it deserves. It's issue was that the way it was structured and plotted, right from the word "go", all pointed towards some single, mind-bending revelation that would at once change everything, while making everything else suddenly fit together. It never had this, and instead trickle-fed the audience some explanations and a few other half-explanations that only really sat with one another when you kinda blindly accepted that "THE ISLAND IS A SPECIAL PLACE" without any particular logic. But it still had some fantastic characters, some truly brilliant moments and got more than its fair share of intrigue, excitement and (most importantly) sheer entertainment out of me. The somewhat unsatisfying ending can't take away all those sundays I'd sit down with it, be hooked on every line that was spoken and every twist the plot took, and then be left begging for more when the credits rolled.

It's no all-time-great, but I will remember it fondly!

It might just be me, but I like about everything that J.J. Abrams does, except for LOST. And Cloverfield, but strangely that had also the DARMA logo in it.

How dare you put Lost before Fringe. Lost turned into a mess. Fringe season 5 was also a mess, but not in the way Lost became. I was so angry at the end of Lost I was never again going to watch an Abrams production agani. Well.... 2 Star Trek films later I guess I lied. Still Fringe at least the first two seasons was the best scifi Abrams TV.

POI is listed as 2013... last time I checked it hasn't been cancelled! Its one of JJ Abrams better shows.

I saw the pilot of Almost Human at the NYCC and I really really enjoyed it. Very well made, interesting, fun and bags of potential. Can't wait for the actual series to start.

The ending to Lost still burns...after all the cool images that were shown and never explained...grrrrr....

POI is not an Abrams show though, he has little to nothing to do with it. It was created and is run by Jonathan Nolan, none of Abrams usual lot are anywhere near this which is why it is quality.

Lost's final and final season should put the show in a lower position imho.

Is Olivia an attractive blonde-haired girl who doubles or even triples in attractiveness when she has brown hair and bangs? 'Cos I've been seeing her in reflective surfaces lately and I thought I was going mad, and I was going to lobotomise myself.

You're saying she really exists?!

I agree. She was great and being an introvert myself, it was nice to see an introvert protagonist because most roles like this are written as extroverts. That's why I was able to identify with her easily.

Firstly, Lost wasn't really an Abrams show.
Secondly, Lost was amazing and you're all fools for not understanding the end.

I was looking for Firefly, then remembered that's the other guy. I'm tired :-/

He was huuuuugely influential in the beginning and the original mythology and I'd find it hard to believe he didn't at least have a passing comment about later seasons.

Secondly, you're so right it hurts,

I love the final season, if I was to pick it a bad season it'd season 3 but I'd still watch that happily.

Why is the end of Lost unsatisfying?

Is this the right place to admit that I've never watched a single episode of any of these shows. Ever...?

Lost started off Mysterious Science Island and turned into Gods and Monsters because they could not write there selves out of the narrative they created. Magic plug in the cave of destiny? Your a fool for not understanding there is no message to understand, it was wrote off the cuff.

The base narrative was there from the start, go watch the first Season and it's all there.
As for the message, you missed it.

It isn't, it's actually amazing. The only problem I had was I wanted a better ending for MIB.

POI I love it does need to go some where as an over arch in series to come but its bloody awesome

Alcatraz was pretty awful I mean its something fun on an evening but it was absolutely ridiculous

Lost 1st are you kidding me !? Yeah, probably got the biggest ratings but If i could go back in time and choose NOT to waste my hours watching the most drawn out TV series ever, where after countless episodes and what 4/5 series in, you still don't know what the hell is going on.. and of course the rather crap ending.

Fringe should be numero uno. Brilliant series, and in my opinion there's no contest compared to Lost.

I switched off Lost after a few episodes. The endless flashbacks just annoyed the hell out of me. Is Abrams obsessed with flashbacks? Every episodes of Alias seemed to start with Jennifer Garner in a sticky situation and then we'd get "72 hours earlier..." He even carried this crap over to his disappointing Mission Impossible film.

I love both of those shows, but actually no they're not.

Lost was much better than Fringe...and please let's not forget that Abrams had virtually nothing to do with Lost after the pilot.

YES!! Thank you, Mr_Nin. Lost was brilliant....and the answers were (almost) all there for the people that have seen the show more than once. And, yes, Abrams had nothing to do with it after the Pilot.

You're a fool for not thinking this was going to be a fantasy/sci/fi type show right from the beginning. Obviously you can't write 6 seasons of material ahead of time. You're a massive fool!! You're also an idiot for calling Mr_Nin a fool! You clearly only watched the show once and probably week to week as it was being aired over 6 seasons, so you don't really get it. That's fine, but don't insult other people because they have a higher mental capacity than you do. You go ahead and watch your paint by numbers shows if you'd like; I'll take something that challenges me.

I guess you aren't a fan of good tv. Oh well, your loss. The flashbacks were the best part. That's how we find out about the characters lives before they reached the island. Good grief...it's a good thing you don't write.

Fringe was great, but pretty generic and standard compared to Lost. I'll take something more original any day.

It's only unsatisfying to those that can't wrap their brain around it. It's definitely a show that needs to be rewatched, but there're a lot more answers there than most people seem to think. I always laugh when people say it made no sense and now they hate the whole show....because I know they don't get it...they think they do, but they don't. One day they'll go.....ahhhhhhh...that's what this and this and this mean........right!!

LOST...everything else was a bit rubbish really...and LOST nearly LOST it...but as it gave the allegory for the battle between heaven & hell and it turns out the island WAS some kind of purgatory I forgive it,... and happily own it all on DVD.
PLUS, some of the best acting and best actors of modern times in that show, along of course , often with some of the best writing. At least episode to episode, I'm fairly sure they had little idea of the overall arc story, but episode by episode, the writing was great.

Kevin Chapman plays Lionel Fuscoe, Also other than a producer I don't think Abrams has much to do with it, its Nolans baby. He said himself he has season 4 planned out for the machines journey so I imagine that will bring it in a new direction.

Love the show but I haven't seen half that list so I can't argue about it being higher.

Alternate universes hadn't been done with a degree of seriousness before Fribge?

How soon we forget Charlie Jade.

If you found Lost challenging I think that says alot about your level of intellect, more so than your ridiculous post.

Hey.... Falling Skies is/was JJ Abrams.

What I find the most annoying is how it has become accepted fact that the finale was disappointing based largely on the opinions of people who watched the first two seasons and then the finale out of curiosity.

You can't really say he had nothing to do with it after the Pilot as he and Lindelof laid down most of the groundwork of characters and ideas for the first season. You can't just create characters and then have no ongoing effect, those characters would have progressed throughout out season 1 as he would have mostly envisioned.

It'd be fairer to say he had nothing to do with it after season 1.

I partially agree. Yes Anna Torv was absolutely fantastic. Even outclassing most cable actors. On the other hand in my opinion season five was not an abomination. In fact imo it's the best season of all.

Veyr good read. And contrary to some I agree that Lost is Abrams best show. Fringe beame very good later on but had a fairly weak start. Lost managed to enthrall and entertain for it's full 6 season run, Even though I admit the final two seasons were less good than the first four. (quite liked the finale though)

Lost's final two seson were not as good as the first four imo but the final reveal (which in a brilliant move came in ep4 rather than the series finale) was a very good one and eventually led to a very satifying series finale. Personally I thaught season 5 was the weakest with two little happening in the second half of the season.

I think what people have a problem with is that the big reveal happens in S06E04 rather that the series finale. That's where basically all is explained. Leaving hardly any twists for the finale. I think it was a good move. Lost's plot was just so massive that you had to have the big reveal early on so everyone knew what was at stake while all the story arcs were being finished, Which is exactly what the finale did. I thought it was a fine finale but I get why some were less happy about it.

Actually, yes, they are.

Rob Kemp, how did you 'forget' Anna Torv? I can only believe it was an accidental omission and not deliberate.

No. Spielberg, but not Abrams.

Doesn't Glen Larson deserve a mention as a prolific producer of popular TV series?

I haven't actually watched any of these series other than Lost, which I was a huge fan of. I agree that the way it ended, which personally I didn't like though I know many did, shouldn't spoil the brilliance that came before. But somehow it does. You mention the moment the Hatch lit up - yes, that was a glorious moment of television. But when you remember that, 7 years later, we still didn't know why it happened or what the room beneath the Hatch was really for, it does diminish it.

Nevertheless, I will never forget the utter joy I felt when I realised during Through The Looking Glass that we were witnessing not flashbacks but flashforwards. What a brilliant twist, which gave the show a subtle but entirely new dynamic for the next season. I really wanted to congratulate the writers on that one.

I agree for the most part - when people say that it was all questions and no answers (the polar bear being the most commonly-cited example) I just tell them that they weren't paying attention or didn't stick with it long enough. That said, there definitely were things that weren't explained and I guess I was hoping for a unifying explanation for everything that led to an "AHHHH!!!" moment, which never came. I knew even at the time that it was too much to hope for, though. It was still superb.

The simple truth with Lost is that the first two series were great, then they wrote themselves into a corner they couldn't extract themselves from.

From minute one, the series was set up to make you want answers and that grew to huge levels as questions were piled on questions.

Then failing to provide adequate enough answers that made any sense of events (other than 'uhm, god and stuff, right?') it slid to a rather depressingly pointless conclusion.

It always felt like it should have been 3 series and it was stretched due to popularity. The great performances and well written characters were eventually ruined by the biggist anticlimax in TV history.

Now, scarred for life, I never even pay any interest in these long running shows until they've wrapped up and I can see if they're worth spending time on.

It takes well over 80 hours to watch Lost.

I feel I'm owed.

I remember Charlie Chalk.

He had a funny way of walking and a funny way of talking, I seem to recall.

Watching it turned into Purgatory after S02

You're mostly better off.

The message was:

Don't watch shows that don't know where they're going, and if you do, act all pretentious and pretend they were actually really deep, man.

I found Cloverfield a bit 'meh' in all honesty. Big monster and annoying people that you want to see eaten.

Thanks for the warning!

If they only showed the actual monster in action would have been an improvement. What also bugs me about the movie is that all the background info is on the internet and nothing is in the movie. The web info for instance explains where the heck the millitary with tanks suddenly comes from in midtown Manhatten. The answer by the way is a secret underground military base beneath the Brooklyn Bridge or something, that they build post 9/11.

I never watched Lost, but I feel the same in terms of waiting until a show has wrapped.

While Lost was still ongoing there was a chance it could have all been amazing if they had all the clever answers to the complicated questions...

...but now I know from everyone else that if I were to watch the show, there would be no point in getting excited about unanswered stuff, as I already know it would either not be answered or answered poorly.

Actually, there weren't many "72 (or whatever) hours earlier" gimmicks on Alias. I only remember very few (usually just during "milestone" episodes, like Phase One) and, besides, that kind of thing helps set the plot. It's called non-linear story-telling.

A better example of a show that misused the "[x time] earlier" gimmicks was Nikita, which I hated, because it was used mostly to set-up new characters we knew nothing about. And when they finally showed the character in present time, in the same episode, it was supposed to be "shocking." I stopped watching that show after episode six of the 2nd season.

Those question about the hatch DO have an answer, re-watch the show.

Hi DoG, there is a mistake in this article. Kevin Chapman plays Lionel Fusco in Person of Interest, not Harold Finch.

all the shows from 6-10 are downright terrible, with 3&4 coming really close

What legacy? all shows were cancelled in 1 season except Lost, Who saw that shows? really was a Legacy?

6/10 shows were longer than 1 season and lots of people watched them. The legacy is the type of dramas that companies these days.

longer than 1 season? Fringe, What about Brian? 6 degrees?, etc.. what planet do you live? I´m happy to anounce star wars VII will be a failure, even been "Star Wars", nobody like jewish except jewish, thats why none seen these shows accept it

It seems you can't read? Either the article or my comment. 6 out of 10 shows lasted more than 1 season: (1)Lost 6 seasons, (2)Alias 5 seasons, (3)Fringe 5 seasons, (4)Felicity 4 seasons, (5)Person of Interest 4 seasons and (6)Revolution 2 seasons.

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