Television: Counter-Procedural: Attack of the Killer Serials

BACKLASH

At the beginning of this fall season, there were two things everyone in TV knew: 1) the key to success was to develop shows that were as much like CSI as possible, and 2) ABC was deep in the ratings toilet. The alphabet network finished last season in fourth place, without a major hit sitcom or drama or, above all, a big crime franchise.

Little more than a month later, ABC had two brand-new Top 10 dramas--both textbook examples of what viewers in the CSI era supposedly don't want to watch. Lost, an X-Files-like supernatural chiller about plane-crash survivors on a...

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