'Lost,' 'Law & Order,' '24': finales and the legacy of big-drama TV
The 'Lost' finale Sunday night, followed by the '24' finale and the end of 'Law & Order' after 20 years on Monday have critics assessing the impact of each series.
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The rigid structure, divided by the musical beats, embracing the basic storytelling arc – beginning, middle, end – has proved more potent than shows that toyed with viewers' expectations either in format or content. The great contribution of the Dick Wolf-helmed franchise has been its consistent ability to tell high-quality, well-written dramatic tales about relevant stories everyone can relate to, says Mr. Thompson. Along the way, he adds, the show, with its rotating cast, “has inadvertently stumbled into the value of keeping fresh faces before audiences to maintain audience interest."Skip to next paragraph
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This dependability has educated decades of audiences about the nuts and bolts of legal procedures, says Elizabeth Kelley, a criminal defense lawyer based in Cleveland, not to mention helped a young attorney learn the basic ropes. “On a very rudimentary level, it shows newer attorneys basic lawyering skills,” she says, adding that while the writers took a certain license, the show illustrated the importance of a strong courtroom presence and creativity in legal argument. It also showed how basic court procedures such as an arraignment played out. “I learned how to do an arraignment by watching 'Law & Order,' ” Ms. Kelley recalls with a laugh, remembering that "I was scheduled to do an arraignment and I watched it and it got me through the procedure the very next morning.”
While the ABC serial about a planeful of crash victims on a remote island set a new bar for sheer complexity of storylines, perhaps the biggest legacy of "Lost" in the media landscape is the online component the writers and producers cultivated from the start. “This was not merely a fan page,” notes Mr. Levinson, but a rich community that extended the storytelling world of the show and set a new standard for this kind of creativity across the Internet.
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