I generally don’t consider myself much of a “follower”. But occasionally a phenomenon will arise in pop culture that will make me wonder, “Gee, what’s the big deal? What’s the fascination with X” In this case, the TV Show ‘Lost‘ was one of the fascinations. I’m not really much of a TV person anymore. I get lost (no pun intended) in all of the choices that 800 channels of digital cable can offer. The obsessive compulsive in me just hates to think that I’m watching one TV show, but there’s something significantly better on another channel. Anyhow, I kept hearing about this ‘Lost’ show. I remember the huge following it had during the first season. And I waited, as I thought it would only last for a season. But it kept going. After awhile, it seemed as if everyone was watching except me. And hey — I’m not on the cutting edge of everything — especially when it comes to TV. If Lost was, in fact, a gem and I’d missed it, this wouldn’t be the first time I was late to the party. I didn’t start watching the Sopranos until Big Pussy disappeared (Season 2).
Generally when I don’t start watching a show from its inception, I just figure that there’s no way I’ll ever feel at one with the community. Truthfully, a big part of my not watching was because I just didn’t want to add yet another show to the Tivo. I mean, I’m having a hard time watching the stuff that’s queued up on it now. But something lingering in my spirit kept asking, “Is all this fascination with ‘Lost’ over nothing….or is there something there?” I mean, how good can a show about ‘getting stuck on an island’ be? To make things less enticing, I’d heard the there were all of these subtle details that you’d miss if you weren’t watching closely. But for some strange reason, the urge remained. And I had to act on it. Just to satisfy my own curiosity.
And with that, I fired up iTunes on a lazy Saturday and bought the first show. Small investment — $1.99. (My real intent was to watch it as it was meant to be seen on DVD, but I didn’t figure it would take, so $1.99 was enough to give it a try.) I watched the first episode with the eyes of skeptic, hoping with all that I had that this wouldn’t be something else to chip away at my time. It started off interesting. Hmm. Lots of strong characters. Can’t stop with that one show — let me check out the next episode. By the time I made it to episode 3, I just said what the hell and bought the season.
So you may be wondering, what was the verdict? Well, after 2 weeks of intense viewing of 44 minute episodes — one after the other after the other….until I bought season 2 and again watched….one after the other….after the other….. I’m here to tell you — this might be one of the best shows I’ve watched in quite some time.
You might be asking, “Well, what is the big deal?” Without giving away any spoilers about the storyline (because I believe in this case it would absolutely ruin your appreciation for the experience), here’s why I’m enamored with the show.
Probably the best thing about the show are the extremely well cast and well written personalities. As great as the writing and the storylines are, the characters are so well represented that in just two seasons, I feel as if I’ve been introduced to characters that are as colorful and deep as any others that I’ve watched for eight or nine seasons. The team that was responsible for the casting did an incredible job. And sadly for the actors, perhaps too good a job. The personalities on Lost are so strong that I’m sure these actors are going to really need to work hard to avoid the Seinfeld and X-Files-like association with their on screen personas. With many shows, I find myself either completely disliking a few characters or really appreciating some characters and simply being indifferent about others. In Lost, there’s no in-between (at least not for me.) I either really like a character, or I really dislike a character…..or I reserve judgement because there’s something about them that I can’t quite put my finger on. But there’s no doubting that this is a show with an incredible cast and incredible personalities.
Having watched as many programs on television as I have, writers really have to work hard to hook me. (Especially being a writer myself.) Well, these folks have have managed to capture my interest in a big way. The writing is just that good. It’s unbelievably good. It’s the kind of good that makes you say, “Gee, they aren’t just making this stuff up as they go — this show was probably planned out for a few seasons before they shot the first scene.” And about those rumors of a show riddled with nerdy cult-like details? Well, they’re all true. As strong as the ‘drama’ aspect of ‘Lost’ is, the science fiction aspect of it is equally as strong. At times I wonder whether the show should be on ABC or on the Sci-Fi Channel. But the great quality of Lost is that for viewers that only want to focus on the drama aspects of the show, you can totally just focus on the drama and not pay as much attention to the sci-fi detail — and the show still works. At the same time, if you’re truly psychotic, you can cut these episodes up and dissect details that will keep you speculating theories for weeks. And as much as I’m making the show sound like a confusing mess, there are other angles to the plot. There are some incredibly romantic stories that unfold. (I mean, come on — a bunch of beautiful folks on an island — what do you want.) And I haven’t even talked about the humor yet. Basically if I was charged with describing the show in terms of shows that are already on TV, one might say Lost was a bit of X-Files mixes with some ‘Breakfast Club’ (think about it — ‘strangers thrown in a situation and reacting to each other’) blended in with some Grey’s Anatomy-like romance and topped with a bit of humor and you have Lost. Sound like a train wreck, but trust me — it all just works.
The last non-spoiler aspect of the show that makes it so incredibly unique is the style in which the story is presented. Rather than keep you on the island for an hour-long episode, the show takes an interesting approach. Remember those strong personalities I mentioned? Well, they’re all on the island and are complete strangers to each other (for the most part). The show chooses one character per show and provides back story scenes about that character’s past that are blended in throughout the episode. This does a few things. For one, it keeps the show moving along at a brisk pace (because it might get boring if you stayed on the island for an entire episode). But more importantly, it gives you some insight into what makes each character tick. And what led them to the flight. The character back stories are like the glue that takes a good drama and makes it great. And I don’t use the term “great” loosely. There were characters on the show that I really and truly disliked that turned out to be some of my favorite folks after I understood a bit more about their history. (I’m really not doing the style of the show justice. You’d have to watch about 10 episodes to appreciate just how well this works.)
I didn’t intend to finish the 2nd season of Lost just before the season opener tomorrow. It just kinda worked out that way. But I am looking forward to watching the season now. One word of advice — if you’re going to watch Lost, don’t just hop in the middle of the season. Don’t rob yourself of the pleasure of watching this story unfold slowly. Also, resist the urge to watch the “catch up” episodes. This isn’t a ‘microwave’ kinda thing. It’s much more of a ‘crock pot’ type of experience. Besides, you’ll only reach a point down the road where some detail will show up and you’ll feel completely….well, lost. (Pun completely intended.) Pick up the DVDs and watch them at your own pace. Until then, hide your eyes and ears when the promos, commercials and anything else ‘Lost’ comes on until you’re ready to sit down and take in the series. And when you do, I truly envy you. There’s an incredible amount of mystery and fun to be had and part of me is sad that there’s no “Season 3” on iTunes that I can download and dive into.
Lost is a great show. If you have an iPod or a laptop and you foresee a long business trip or perhaps just an extended period of time to yourself forthcoming, make a date with this show. You won’t regret it. Uh….that is, take the show on a trip — just as long as it doesn’t involve an airplane. In which case, just save ‘Lost’ for another time.