Friday, March 26, 2010

Lost in LOST

As I have made mention before, I am a big fan of the show Lost. This is largely due to reasons that I do not fully understand. Think about it for a second. If I pitched a show to you that met the following criteria, would you want to watch it for 6 seasons?

1) The show will be full of mysterious intrigue.
2) Many questions will be raised, often supernatural.
3) It will take multiple seasons to answer these questions. All the while posing new, more confusing questions.
4) The show will follow no logical train of thought and will jump around from innumerable characters, locations, dates, times and universes.
5) The show will be fraught with symbolism and metaphors, less than a third of which will be important.
5) There will be polar bears on a tropical island, and you'll be asked accept this as normal.
6) Often times, your favorite characters will be killed off because of off screen issues (see, Mr. Echo) and your least favorite characters will keep reappearing even after they've died multiple times (see, Claire, Michael, etc).
7) If the show gets too confusing or too far away from any sensible story line, (say, when the characters begin time travelling or you find out you can literally move the island through time and space) the writers will just distract you instead of providing a useful explanation.
8) There will be 6 seasons. Seasons 2-5 will have two pertinent episodes each. The season premier and the season finale. The rest will be filler.
9) So many characters will be introduced in so many time zones (I wish I meant Eastern or Pacific. Instead I mean Present, Parallell, 30 years prior, 8 weeks ago, Future, etc) that you'll spend half of each episode trying to figure out who is who and why it matters.
10) In the final season, the show will inexplicably attempt to tie things together by adding supernatural characters replete with religious allegory which, again, will only distract you from the previous 5 seasons instead of explaining anything.

Does that show interest you? NO! Unless you suffer from severe ADHD, you would not want to watch this show. (I'd worry about making fun of people with ADHD, but they've already forgotten what I said). The show is clearly setting you up for disappointment and will drag you along like American Idol's results show. Right after this break....

That said, we still have a few more episodes and I can't wait to watch!

What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment. As are all of you who watch Lost. You may say, "This show is so frustrating and the final season isn't going anywhere. I'm bailing on this show." but you're pot committed. You're in too deep. You can't quit now! You're like Matt Damon in The Departed, at some point you're just going to end up shooting everyone and hope it works out for the best.

The show has garnered intrigued from a vast fan base and has had unprecedented success. Think about it, this is a show that can't rely on gaining viewers the longer its on the air. Once they started season 3 there wasn't a whole lot they could do to get new fans. Either you were going to buy seasons 1 and 2 and catch up, or you weren't. Lost is not a show you just watch from time to time. You marry it. For better or for worse. You put up with the Dharma Initiative and deal with Mr. Widmore, in the hopes of more Jack, Sawyer and Hugo. You look past the fact that Cheech is playing Hurley's dad and focus on Said's transformation. And now, all you want is more Jacob, Richard and the Man in Black.

And that's the key to the show's success. You wrangle in all these early viewers with the premise of a show about people surviving a plane crash and living on a desert island, like Survivor minus all the annoying parts. You know, when Jeff Probst is on camera. And then they throw a curveball at you. What kind of monster do they hear in the jungle? Who kills the pilots and how do they end up at the top of a tree? WHY ARE THERE POLAR BEARS?!?!

That's all it takes. Now, if you have any common sense you're one of those people saying, "See!? That's exactly why I never got into that show. I'm much too smart and well educated to waste my time with it." If you're honest, you're saying, "I watched an episode and nothing made sense so I turned it off."

I'm just worried what will happen when its off the air. Will someone pick it up and air re-runs? Can you even pull that off? What will the actors do? Most will forever be seen as their Lost characters. C'mon, if you saw Ben Linus in any other role you wouldn't be able to get past that smarmy little manipulator with a bloodied up face. What will happen to the thousands of bloggers and message board posters? The show will be over. There will be nothing left to speculate. It will just dissolve in the recesses of our minds.

Or will it?

If I've been convinced of one thing this entire season of Lost its this: I will be supremely let down by the final episode. If you watched The Sopranos (which I didn't, but go with me here), you know that the season finale was awful. Most people thought their cable cut out. It just went to black. There was no finality to it. I have a similar feeling for Lost.

This is a show that has made itself famous by offering fantastic twists and turns. Each season something outrageous happens that changes everyone forever. There are so many possible outcomes. I imagine the end of the series to have one of those classic Lost moments. The Man in Black will make a claim, Jacob will cock his head slightly sideways then glance over to Jack. He'll look back at the Man in Black and say something like, "But isn't that always how it was forever going to be?" The camera will cut to a close up of the Man in Black, eyes wide in surprise. Jacob will smirk. Then, boom. Creepy Lost music. Logo will fade up and you'll be left with this expression on your face:

Thinking, did I seriously just waste the past 6 years of my life accomplishing nothing?! Which, coincidentally is what the guy in this randomly selected photo is probably thinking. I kid.

All political riling up aside. I know we'll be let down by the finale of Lost. I know J.J. Abrahms is too smart to answer all of our questions, leaving us satisfied. He needs his name to be remembered! He needs Lost to go down as one of the greatest shows of all time and that is only accomplished by leaving us with hundreds of unanswered questions. The speculation is what makes the show great.

If you knew the Lost was going to have a smoke monster that could throw people around but was actually a person and that the island was actually a supernatural battleground for Good v. Evil and that everything you're watching isn't actually what you're watching. That no one on the island actually dies unless the writers have a problem with the actor, and that most of the show is practically meaningless. You'd never watch it! It sounds annoying and slightly cheesy on paper. The speculation it arouses, however....oh, you're a crafty one J.J. Very crafty.

Here's is an actual description of the show Lost, "There are several recurring elements and motifs on Lost, which generally have no direct effect on the story itself, but expand the show's literary and philosophical subtext." This is why we're addicted! Finally a show has come along that doesn't force feed us clich├ęd metaphors and blatant symbolism. Well, until they have to wrap things up in season 6 and pretty much beat you over the head with Jacob as Jesus and the Man in Black as the devil. Jacob, the symbol of "good" has been holding evil captive on the island and has died as part of his effort to find a replacement to carry on his mission? That metaphor stands out worse than a white guy in a dunk competition.

But for the most part the show had our intrigue and caused us to discuss everything with fellow viewers. It kept us talking about it all week until a new installment arrived each Tuesday. There's nothing that can explain the show other than to succeed it needed to make no sense and keep us guessing.

I don't think we'll ever know where J.J. Abrams gets his crazy from.

Oh, nevermind. I see it now.

1 comment:

  1. Because I have not now, nor will I ever, watch Lost. I connected mostly to the photograph of Obama, and your comments about his inability to accomplish anything. That's just not true. He's managed to piss off millions. For some, that's quite the accomplishment.