Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lost Has Lost Me

It's not really a secret, but I love spooky end-of-the-world drama - zombies, plague, hell, even a strong rain and big ark might be enough - but somewhere along the way, Lost has let my attention wander. I read recently that experts, like the people who produce these shows, say that in the future, these shows won't be produced. Not Lost specifically, since there's a strong contingent of borderline-crazy people who follow that action. Rather, the large-scale epic drama that costs networks, like, billions of dollars per season to produce, are on the outskis.

Which is too bad, really. Lost was fun for a while: it was outsized and outrageous, offering up tropical polar bears, time travel, plane crashes, and hot interracial love triangles. It jumped forward and back in time, carrying the viewer, breathless, along for the ride. What's not to love? Okay, sure, asking Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lily to carry the show was a little weird, since they're both super-wooden. And yes, okay, having like, three hundred people as series regulars was probably expensive, especially since the show is shot on Hawai'i...a place not noted for its accessibility.

No matter! Lost was engaging, interesting, complex television. Note that "was" in the last sentences, there, folks: this show has totally beefed it this last little while. Lost got boring when it raised about ninety thousand questions - who are these people? Who are the Others? What's up with that polar bear? Where are they? Did they just say they're going to move the island? For real? Why does this show raise a dozen new questions each episode and fail to ever answer any of them? Where are my Tums? - and then totally whistled and avoided eye contact with its audience. Aww! Lost got shy! What a crock.

Shyness is an adorable trait in a toddler. It's less charming on a multi-season show. A show, as a matter of fact, that takes a notoriously long hiatus between seasons. As a viewer, I'm getting used to long-form complex television drama; writers who use the televised serial as an art form are getting more common. However, those other writers are pretty adept at paying off their big setups (and I'll just slide right past that much-discussed blackout at the end of The Sopranos, thanks). Lost, on the other hand, has constantly upped and upped, and not in a good way, either.

In this day and age (June 17, Age of Aquarius), most producers know that their shows are eventually going to be DVD-ized. I was watching a commentaried episode of How I Met Your Mother (what? I love commentaries), and they talked about, when they were making the show, they could take certain liberties with details and timelines, knowing that their audiences were likely watching episodes in blocks, not in weekly chunks. It's possible that the creative minds behind Lost have taken this phenomenon to its logical, if mind-wrecking conclusion: no details, crazy timelines, all liberties.

I stopped watching a couple years ago, right around the time they announced that the series was going to have a definitive end date. Great! I though, I don't have to wait from week to week and from month to month, slowly growing an ulcer. I'll just forget about it...until I can line up all seven seasons next to my DVD player and watch everything at once. Sure, it's going to take a couple months, and I'll probably gain a whole pile of weight during my televisually-induced snack attacks, but at least I'll know the mysteries of the island.

And I swear to God: if they wipe out on the ending, leaving me with a Dallasian, "it-was-all-a-dream" farrago, there will be words. Fair warning, Jage.

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