Good news everyone! Ain’t It Cool News is reporting that ABC is ordering 18 episodes for Season 6, up from 17.
As you may recall, the final 3 seasons of Lost were originally scheduled to run 16 episodes each. Although, the actual number of hours is unknown since Season 4 of Lost, which had 13 episodes, ended up making 14 hours of television due to the 2 hour season finale. The writer’s strike forced Season 4 to be cut down to 13 episodes/14 hours, so the agreement became that the two missing hours would be attached to the remaining seasons, making Season 5 and Season 6 17 episodes each.
The news that ABC wants 18 episodes of Season 6 is good news to us fans. We get another hour of our favorite TV show. On the other hand, the story was reported somewhat ambiguous as to which direction the request to increase the episode order came from. While in traditional television, it’s somewhat unheard of that showrunners negotiate the number of episodes/seasons to make. The studio funds the pilot, orders the Back 9, and then the rest of the season. So normally, my gut would tell me that ABC just wants to milk the final season of Lost for more money in ad revenue.
However, Lost is no traditional show and neither has been it’s television-making process. We all know that Darlton are more than comfortable negotiating episodes and seasons with ABC. They did so with the final 3 season agreement. So instead of ABC just wanting to market the heck out of Lost’s grand finale, I’m thinking Damon and Carlton went to ABC and said, “We need another hour.” They did it with the Season 4 finale, which was supposed to be one hour and they stretched it to two.
I recall near the end of Season 3, when the show-endgame agreement came about, a podcast where Damon and Carlton discussed how they always imagined Lost only having 5 22-episode seasons. However, ABC wanted at least 3 more seasons. Thus, the final 3 16-episode season agreement came about.
Now, if you go off that comment and apply what we know story-wise of the end of Season 5, if they imagined only 2 remaining seasons, when do you think the atomic bomb was meant to go off? That seems pretty big to me, so I’d imagine that was the Hypothetical Season 4 finale, right in the middle of what they imagined were the 2 remaining seasons. Thus, all the events after the atomic blast, in the hypothetical Season 5, were planned to take place in 22 episodes, the standard television episode number. So they were facing the same story to tell but in 5 less episodes than originally planned.
Where am I going with all this? My point is that I’m leaning towards the theory that Damon and Carlton went to ABC to ask for an extra episode in Season 6 to tell the story with the proper breadth they want it to have. Why did I go through all the trouble to point out what is easily assumed? Well, it’s the off-season and I don’t have anything else to speculate about.