I haven’t been watching LOST, but I have it on good authority that the island is really…

As usual, I was watching JEOPARDY! recently, and the show had a whole category devoted to spoilers! In an unJEOPARDYlike fashion, I’ll give you the questions, but NOT the answers, until the end. Planet of the Apes (2001), The Sixth Sense, Chinatown, The Usual Suspects, The Crying Game.

So when is the RIGHT amount of time to give away the “spoiler” ending of a TV show or movie? In early 2005, noted critic Roger Ebert wrote about this regarding Million Dollar Baby when critic Michael Medved and faux critic Rush Limbaugh revealed the crucial plot point because they didn’t LIKE the crucial plot point. (I STILL haven’t seen the movie but learned that plot point at the time. Now I’m feeling the need to rent it.)

With LOST coming to a close, how long can someone recording the program to watch later expect NOT to hear the details? Will it be in the newspaper the next morning? Will it have a spoiler warning, and will that matter? (I haven’t been watching LOST, but I have it on good authority that the island is really little Tommy from St. Elsewhere.)

On a NORMAL show – one that isn’t getting near Super Bowl money for its ads – I think a week is about all one can reasonably expect before its common knowledge. (How long did it take before the greatest ending in history, Newhart, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, become revealed?) Although I recall a critic being taken to task because the viewer was waiting to see the program when it was released on DVD. How does THAT work in the equation?

For movies it’s different. Films have two lives: in the theater, and then on DVD, et al. (There’s a third, on broadcast TV, but that may be years out.) It seems that 13 weeks after the release date of home release might be a standard. Of course, if home release becomes simultaneous with theatrical release, as may be coming to pass, that creates an awfully small window.

But what do YOU think about TV shows and movies? What should be the spoiler expectation, Rosebud?
Those JEOPARDY answers.

Show #5868, aired 2010-03-03 MOVIE SPOILERS $200: There’s a Washington, D.C. memorial to an ape general when Mark Wahlberg returns to Earth in this 2001 film
#5868, aired 2010-03-03 MOVIE SPOILERS $400: Bruce Willis is dead & doesn’t know it in this 1999 thriller
#5868, aired 2010-03-03 MOVIE SPOILERS $600: Faye Dunaway’s daughter is also her sister in this Jack Nicholson classic from 1974
#5868, aired 2010-03-03 MOVIE SPOILERS $800: The disabled Kevin Spacey seems to be the killer Keyser Soze in this 1995 film
#5868, aired 2010-03-03 MOVIE SPOILERS $1000: In this 1992 IRA thriller starring Stephen Rea, the “girl” is really a guy

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