Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thoughts On The New Season Of Lost

Apple iTunesI think Lost is a great show.

Now I'm not going to be so stupid as to say, "Go! Watch it! Right now!"

Because I know it's not a show for everybody.

Take my wife, for example. She wouldn't even watch season 3 with me. After some of the repetition in season 2, where we saw some of the same things we'd already seen, but from a slightly different point of view, well, that was it for her. She's got better things to do with her time than watch the same show twice--if she wanted to see that other episode again, she'd have just put that DVD in again.

But for me--

This show has a "flavor." I know most people call the feel of a show the "vibe" or the "Feel." Writer types call it the "style" or the "voice."

But for me, for this show, it's more like a flavor. And just like I can order my favorite dish at a local restaurant over and over even though I've tasted it before, I like the flavor of this show enough that I could watch the same episodes over and over. So the repetition doesn't bug me.

And the repetition all but stopped in season 3. Around the time they announced a date for their last season, this show took off like a rocket.

And, this season, they're having the good sense to air the remaining episodes back-to-back-to-back, the way 24 does, to eliminate the confusion and gaps that turned so many viewers off the show. Granted, the season will be cut short because of the writer's strike, but it should be a lot easier to stay tuned in to than past seasons have been.

Now I recognize that some people just won't dig Lost. They won't like flavor.

But I guess what I'm trying to do with this post is reassure those of you who ever liked Lost, who did dig the flavor, but gave up on it because the pace was slow or thought they'd never answer the mysteries or you got confused by ABC's random scheduling or whatever--I just want to reassure you the show has got it, ABC has got it, and at this point it looks like it's full steam ahead.

I encourage you to go buy or rent the DVDs and catch up. I think you'll have a good time. Chances are, if you take option 2, you're going to wish you had gone this way when you see all the cool stuff that went on last season.

But if you don't have time for that, they've got a recap episode on iTunes, and some previews for this new season, which looks like it's going to be intense.

Okay, now that's the spoiler-free stuff.

From here on out, spoilers abound!

I warned you!

The producers have already said that the twist at the end of last season is the direction they're going to be going with the whole future of the show. They're going to be playing fast and lose with the story, sometimes doing flash backs, and sometimes doing flash-forwards. It's going to make the whole show read feel like a Vonnegut novel.

I think that's perfect, and exactly fitting with the tone of the show.

And I think it's also going to contribute to a shift towards explaining more mystery.

But it's also going to add to the show's sophistication.

The flashbacks have sometimes served to explain character's actions as much as they've served to explain stuff. Take Hurley, for example. Remember when he tried to blow up the supplies, because he was afraid people would fight over them? That would have been insane, insane, to try without the flashbacks. We would have thought Hurley was out of his curly-haired gourd. It was only by juxtaposing what happened with the money he won in the same episode that his desire to blow up the hatch made even a tiny bit of sense. Otherwise, not only would the decision have seemed stupid, but it would have seemed completely out of character for Hurley to handle the dynamite. As it was, it just made the fact that he had handled the dynamite all the more believable and added depth to Hurley.

I could probably go on like that about things in all kinds of episodes.

It shows a sophistication of writing that you just don't see on TV.

And now, they've raised the bar for themselves. Because things are going to have to get even more sophisticated. The flash-forwards have to tie in with the regular show, in ways that matter to each individual episode. And they have to do it in ways that don't detract from the suspense of the show (they're not going to get any mileage from making us think that Jack or Kate might die on the island now, for example). And they have to do it in ways that don't seem hokey or contrived--eg by hiding information from the audience that people in the scene should know or be talking about.

I've got high hopes for this show. I think there is definitely the potential here to create a near-perfect show that is infinitely rewatchable. I think there's also the chance to crash and burn here in a spectacularly awful splatter of misshapen goo. This is not a show that can end with any mystery unsolved. I can think of few mysteries to this show that are so incidental that they'd be able to end the show in a way that there was room for speculation. There need to be answers.

But I think there will be.

I think there will be a flashback episode with Locke's Dad, explaining how he got on the island.

I think there will be a flashback episode with Rousseau, telling the story of her group of islanders.

The biggest problem the show has right now is Walt. We know from the vision Locke had of him that the actor playing him is growing up, fast. Walt is supposed to be 10, but Malcolm David Kelley was born in 1992, which means he'll be turning 16 this year. 16 playing 10?

The only way to pull it off will be to only reintroduce the character of Walt in the flash-forwards.

We can still get some answers on him--Juliet knows why Michael is special, even though she hasn't said yet--but to have him disappear altogether wouldn't work.

The biggest one of all? The numbers.

The numbers made the show the first season, and the media hype surrounding the number of people who played them in the lottery put the spotlight directly on them. With as big a deal as has been made of the numbers, they need to answer that one, and the answer has got to be good. As in, one of the best answers they've ever come up with on the show.

Anyways, you get the idea.

They've set a high bar for themselves, and I'll be watching anxiously to see if they can clear it.

Fingers crossed.


theFrog said...

I do like Lost - and, embarrassingly, it does have a special place in mine and TPO's hearts because we get a kick out of seeing familiar landmarks and bits of Hawaiiana in an episode (such as, in city "flashback" scenes, I love seeing the Aloha Bus in the background). However, it's a densely packed show that I just can't watch - and can't STAND watching - during the regular season. Every commercial break ticks me off (even with a DVR). Having to wait a week between episodes ticks me off.

So, I'll take your advice that the new season of Lost is good. Like your wife, I almost gave up on Season 3. I'm now that glad I didn't and I can't wait for Season 4 on DVD. Even if that means I have to wait a whole year to see it.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that we have to have all the answers. The flavor is mystery--and answers could ruin that flavor.