Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Obligatory (Albeit Belated) "Lost" Post

Since the beginning of this blog back in December (and what took you so long to find it?!) I haven't written one word about the one TV show that I watch every week.

Last fall, ABC's Lost had finished up an uneven, mediocre six week run. After two seasons of building up the respective back stories of roughly a dozen of the castaways, the first part of the third season force fed viewers almost entire hours on the overexposed trio of "Jack", "Kate" and "Sawyer".

The hardcore Lost lemmings defended the direction, like they do with everything on the show, but when it returned this past winter it was with slightly lower ratings and a sense that the once-runaway hit show had (insert obvious pun) its way.

Flash forward (HA!) to last month's season three finale and you'd think that the show had reclaimed its crown as the most unpredictable, can't miss program in prime time.

And, I'm inclined to agree.

That's not to say the show is anywhere near the vicinity of "perfect", but the last six months have been a fascinating exercise in manipulation, damage control and how to save a show that's adrift:

The EW Non-Apology - A couple of months ago, Lost Executive Producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly in which they essentially owned up to several of the primary gripes from fans (glacial plot pacing, the avalanche of still-unanswered questions and inconsistent character development, for example). The pair publicly pronounced that things would improve and cited episodic examples that "proved" they took the criticism seriously. Of course, the whole orchestrated tête-à-tête was a reactive attempt to recover the show's slight dip in ratings, instead of a proactive apology, but it kept the core fan base satiated until the show could regain momentum.

Paolo and Nikki - The "Exposé" episode where these two despised, newly-introduced characters met their demise was brilliant. On the other hand, their very introduction to the storyline was bilious and essentially forced the writers' hands to offer up a one-shot show to get rid of them. (The best part of all of this was watching all the Lost fans who can't constructively criticize anything on the show trying to retroactively admit that they never liked Paolo and Nikki in the first place.)

The Sycophantic Celebrity Blogs - TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly are two of the more popular media outlets that post weekly blogs on Lost. The authors LOVE every episode and watch breathlessly each week with all the emotional maturity of a room full of children. (Anyone over the age of 11 who still uses "OMG" should be shot. OK, flogged.) But, the Lost producers have used these bloggy blow jobs to manufacture a steady stream of positive press (bought n' paid for with the occasional "exclusive interview") even as viewers were jumping ship. No integrity in the media? Why are we just now learning this?!

The Leak - If you're reading this, then you probably know that the big "game changing" twist ending to the season finale was leaked about a week before the show actually aired. In a hilariously paranoid and self-righteous rant, Lost Executive Producer Damon Lindelof accused those who essentially "read ahead" of ruining the integrity of his work, "crossing a line" and, I think, for masterminding 9/11. Call me cynical, but this show has kept its cards close to the vest for almost its entire run and, all of a sudden, something this big gets out? Sorry, but not without help from the highest levels of the show. Can you think of a better way to get viewers back than to give up the reveal ahead of time? Insincere public denouncements notwithstanding, I'll always believe that ABC intentionally pulled back the curtain on this one, if only for a moment.

The Death - So, the "Charlie" character is killed off in the season finale. The producers have stated in subsequent interviews that Charlie's death is "proof" that even the "A-list" characters are vulnerable. Of course, it's a lie, but most Lost fans have blindly bought into it. First off, Charlie, at NO point in the show's three year run, was ever an "A-list" character. Here's your A-list: Jack, Kate, Sawyer and sometimes Locke. Charlie was part of the 3-man B-team (alongside Sayid and Hurley). Everyone else can be charitably described as C-teamers. Secondly, unless the writers get cute with the "flash forward" segments, there's NO way that Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Locke don't make it until the end. None. I guess I'm the only Lost fan who was pleased by Charlie's death solely on the basis that he's always been an annoying, one-note cliché who added little to the show.

Here's hoping the final three seasons are as entertainingly divisive as the first three.

5 comments:

Tom said...

Just pointing this out: but Desmond's flash just said that Charlie drowns... not that he can't be rescued. There's a very real possibility of a Dusty finish in the season premier. Des throws on some gear, pulls him through the porthole, and brings him to the surface.

I'm not sure if I fall into "Lost Lemming" land (I might) but my whole point has always been "It's a serial drama; it's hard to criticize episode to episode. You have to let them get where they're going."

The huge layoff after the first six episodes was the worst thing they could have done. It gave people four months to talk about how bad it was.

mathan said...

Aaron,

You know I've been praying for Charlie's death since the days of Ethan, so I was relieved that it finally came true.

I'm also saddened to hear that you seem to have bought the hype about the return from hiatus Lost. With the exception of some of the Ben and Locke stuff the second half was entertaining at best but pandering at worst.


And Tom, The Wire is a serial drama. Each season is basically a complete story. Lost is an exercise in faith. We're at the halfway point, three years in, and we still don't know why so many connected people are stranded on the island or who the bad guys are. Seasons end with no degree of finality and we've still got no clue as to the big picture. Lost is a grungy soap opera.

Tom said...

Mathan: I don't disagree with you... but I watch a soap, so I guess I have no problem with the pace. I just have less of a problem waiting for the whole thing to shake out before I judge it as dead or awful.

Buffy and Angel were those "one story that runs all season with tiny sub-stories" type shows, too. I think they're two of the better shows ever. I like that pacing, too. Lost isn't that. We know this.

At this point, I feel like complaining about Lost's pacing is worthless. Everyone knows what it is. It's going to be a story told over all six seasons that isn't going to resolve until the end. If this is bothersome to people, I don't understand why they're watching and complaining anymore. It's like when I quit on Stephen King's Dark Tower books until they all came out. I didn't want to deal with waiting so I put the whole thing off until the end.

Matt said...

I heart lost AND Mathan. What's that make me?

Anonymous said...

I have really tried to get into Lost, but they lost me for good after the winter break. I'll rent the DVDs at the end of each season. It's hard to explain, but the writers seem to take twisted pleasure in jerking viewers around with dead-end storylines and red herring revelations. The first two seasons seemed to try and throw as many questions to the wall as possible and only try and answer what sticks. Will there ever be a payoff to all of those contrived "connections"? (Locke works for Hurley's box company!) Sadly, I no longer care enough to watch every week.

BTW, first time visitor here. Really like the blog TBG.