As the return of LOST approaches, I'd like to write about something near and dear to all of our hearts: The Constant. Though I'm sure we've all analyzed (to death) who or what our constant is in our own lives -- not to mention its many implications on the program -- it's interesting to think about constants withinTV shows.
With Simon's recently-announced departure from American Idol, many viewers wonder whether the show will last. Can it succeed without Simon? My prediction -- based on the science of the constant -- is yes. Because of Ryan Seacrest's (awesome and) continuing presence on the show, fans will still be in their comfort zone watching and it won't feel like their whole world was turned upside down.
A similar example is found in shows like Survivor. How is it that fans have kept the show going for 20 seasons when (usually) none of the cast is recycled? Two words: Jeff Probst. Without Jeff Probst -- Survivor's constant -- the show wouldn't stand a chance.
For those of you who are about to object/stop reading because of my reliance on reality TV examples, The Constant Theory works for scripted shows as well. Something tells me, for example, that no one would be getting behind the Dillon Panthers for J.D. McCoy; but for Coach Taylor, our loyalty never dies. Friday Night Lights has had to filter out some of its central characters because of the whole graduating from high school thing, but with Coach, Tammy, and Buddy around, the show still feels like home.
So my advice to writers and producers would be this: make sure that, from Episode 1, you have a constant. Someone who won't quit, graduate, or decide he wants to make the move back to 11:35pm.
P.S. If you didn't click on the link above, now's the time. It is absolutely worth it, probably even more if you're not a LOST fan.