If you didn't enjoy Lost, then you probably didn't enjoy the posts on this site about Lost. And if you didn't enjoy the post on this site about Lost then you REALLY aren't going to enjoy this post about the post-Lost TV landscape. So I would suggest you go elsewhere, or perhaps create your own anti-Lost FanPost that talks about how much you hate Lost and how much you love Two & A Half Men. Cause you do. You love all two and a half of them.
So what makes a good successor to Lost? How bout starting with a show that's not trying to be one. That's why I never bothered with V and didn't last very long on FlashForward. Both of them were trying way too hard to be the nest Lost, right down to casting former members of the show. Has any show trying to be the next anything ever succeeded? I'm guessing not. What makes a great show like Lost is that it's just trying to be. Plain and simple.
And the less we say about Happy Town, the better.
So here's my humble thoughts on where to point your eyeballs. Take them as you will.
Fringe - Every time I tell a Lostie to start watching Fringe, they give me the same response. "Eh, I started watching it when it first came one and it sucked so I stopped." I understand, because that was my reaction as well. Then I started watching them as a late-night filler on Hulu and all of a sudden I got hooked. Now...I will go on record saying this is American TV's best option for Lost fans looking to fill the void. How'd they go from suck-a-duck to kick ass?
Number one, they recognized their issues early and corrected them ASAP. The first couple episodes were plodding and confusing. The characters were muddled. Standalone episodes were kinda boring. The mythology looked too big and we're all so fixated on Lost we don't have time for all this. J.J. and his team realized all this and went to work quickly. They wrote off Olivia's "dead" fiance so she could get on with the will-they-won't-they relationship with Peter. There was really no such thing as a true standalone episode as even the ones that didn't seem related to the overall mythology tangentially tied in somehow.
Most important, they made what could have been a really over-reaching, complicated mythology really easy to grasp. Two Earths. Two parallel universes. One impending war. Let's do this. If you were someone who enjoyed Lost but felt like the mythology was too much to understand or keep track of, Fringe offers you a much tighter mythos that's easy to wrap your head around. Not too bad for a show about parallel worlds.
Fringe just wrapped Season Two and Season Three will begin in the Fall. The season ending was a game-changer (even if it failed to deliver on the long-awaited Walter/Bell showdown. I suggest you start from scratch. It might feel a little tedious at first but stick with it. When the big picture starts to reveal itself, you'll be hooked. Plus, Walter is the best character on network TV right now. Truth.
Person Unknown - It's eh. Seriously, that's really all I can say about it. Which is such a shame given the premise (Oldboy meets a psychological version of Saw). Couple that with Exec Producer Chris McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and you'd expect this to be a taut, emotional thrill-ride with twists and turns abound. Instead it's been a relatively unsurprising, uninspired paint-by-numbers show so far.
The problem seems to be that most everything about the show...the writing, the acting, the direction, the cinematography is all mediocre. When I watched it, I know I'm watching a TV show. When I watched Lost, I felt like I was watching something more. Something grander. PU doesn't seem to aspire to be what it can be.
That said, I think the format bodes well for American TV. The show is a thirteen-episode deal. That's it. By episode thirteen, we have been promised that we'll know everything and the mystery will be solved. That's probably what's keeping me watching. As much as I enjoyed Lost and accept the many unanswered questions that remain, I kinda like the idea of jumping into another show in which I know I'll get all the answers at a pre-determined date. The post-Lost Sci-Fi world will likely demand that kind of storytelling for a while. As much as there is something to be said for not explaining everything, there's too many people out there who want everything wrapped up for the foreseeable future and I'm fine with that.
Plus, I LOVE the idea of shorter, tighter TV seasons. Even a great show like Lost could get plodding at times en route to filling out 20+ episodes a season. That's what killed FlashForward for me...it took too long to get where it's going. It somehow took this amazing concept and made it boring. If FlashForward had been a ten-episode, close-ended series, I would have gladly tuned in the whole way through. But because we have to keep doing things the way we've always done it, great concepts will get stretched beyond their means and lose all their flair. Sometimes, more is less.
Which brings me to...
Survivors - Please note the s- at the end of the show name. I'm not talking about that reality show on CBS. I'm talking about the BBC series that you might not have ever heard of. Survivors is pretty much The Stand but without any of the sci-fi/religious stuff. A virus wipes out 99% of the world's population and those left behind have to come together to start life over...or die fighting each other for the scraps.
The show just finished it's second season (or "series" as they call it over there) and there have been a grand total of 12 episodes. That's it. That's less than half of some American TV seasons. And yet, it's probably packed more into those 12 episodes than most American TV shows do in three seasons. They have no choice. If you've only got six episodes a season to work with, there's no time to dick around. Every scene must count. And that's a good thing.
The show focuses on seven people who have banded together and are trying to, well, just survive. For Lost fans, there's a lot of similarities in the characters. Abby and Greg are the Kate and Jack of the series, though you can consider the roles reversed. Abby is the leader and Greg is the stubborn 2nd in command who always seems to get shot and/or kidnapped. Tom is like Sawyer if Sawyer didn't have funny nicknames for everyone and was a lot more trigger-happy. Al is the opposite of Hurley (skinny, rich, gets laid a lot) but has the same kind of along-for-the-ride mentality while Najid is like Walt without all the psychokinesis.
The one thing I especially appreciate about the show is that although characters in the show are a broad range of ethnic backgrounds, that is never discussed or becomes an issue of any kind. The will-they-or-won't-they couple is a white woman and a black man. Al and Najid are Muslim. And yet at no point does any of that matter. If this were an American show, there would be entire episodes dedicated to dissecting these issues. Even Lost was prone to these kinds of arguments and discussions. Why? Because the English don't care. They aren't warped about race issues like Americans are. It's refreshing.
Sadly the show was canceled after the second series, which is doubly-crappy because it ends with a cliffhanger. All they would need to wrap things up is a 2-hour (or even 1-hour) special but it doesn't look likely. Still, I think both seasons are worth a look for anyone interested in some good old-fashion apocalyptic TV. You might find yourself complaining that the characters seem to move on from catastrophic events way-too-quickly and move on from life-altering happenings with too much ease, but then again, isnt that what we always complained about on Lost as well?
I would never condone watching TV shows illegally on the Internet but if you did happen to ever go to CastTV, you could do such a thing. If you're a monster.
Rubicon - AMC is the perfect home for this upcoming show because it's absolutely what I would expect as AMC's take on the mythology show. Strip away the sci-fi elements of Lost and boil it down to the nitty-gritty, real-world mysteries like "what do the numbers mean" and you'll get something like Rubicon.
Will Travers is your mild-mannered intelligence analyst who cracks codes for a living. He seems to uncover something in the crossword puzzles of all the major newspapers one day but his boss writes it off. Then his boss dies. And as happens in these situations, Will starts down the rabbit hole which leads...well...we have no idea yet. All we do know is there's a secret society out there doing...something.
The pilot is up on Hulu and I recommend it. It's not action-packed and leaves you wanting more, but I guess that's the point. My only concern at this point is that the main baddie seems to be David Rasche (a.k.a. Sledge Hammer!). He doesn't exactly inspire dread (or fantastic acting). I'd much rather have seen Will get pitted against Harris Yulin (a.k.a. The Judge from Ghostbusters II), who shot himself in the opening scene of the show (don't worry, not spoiling anything). Then again, this is the kind of show where the dead have a very good chance to returning, so...we'll see.