Tuesday, May 24, 2011

LOST (2004-2010)

by DionysusPsyche

I want to point out that the blog creator has a collection of Lost posts that he has been writing. Since he has also identified his posts as "spoiler alerts" and encouraged me to write my own Lost blogs as a compare and contrast to his, I'm ever so happy as to oblige his requests. This will be a non-spoiler review. For other more in-depth/spoilertastic entries, please see his previous posts. I might also do some more spoiler worthy entries in the future.

The Hype that is Lost
Lost is a drama television series created by Jeffrey Lieber, J.J Abrams, and Damon Lindelof that follows the lives of survivors of a plane crash on a mysterious tropical island. “They must negotiate an unknown monster, an unpredictable group of prior occupants, strange, other worldly island inhabitants, polar bears, and each other as they try to survive and attract rescue. The main ingredients that have made Lost an icon for success have been its international ensemble cast, plot line of mysteries and flashbacks” (Lostpedia).

May 23rd marked one year since audiences tuned in to the season finale of this sci-fi drama that will leave dedicated viewers breathless for years to come. That's not to say that everyone was happy with the ending, but love it or hate it, it was the end of an era.

For the rest of the world, Lost may be mysterious, but they remain unconvinced by its popularity. It can also prove as a source of aggravation. The fanbase is more than avid viewership and borders on obsessed. The comparable fan based shows would be Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, the Twilight series, Twin Peaks, X-Files, and The Sopranos. As someone who did not watch Lost “from the beginning,” I can understand the skepticism of people who don't watch the show and whose only exposure is their Lost-soaked friends (I am now one of “them”). To outsiders, the show is nothing more than a fictionalized (well, more fictionalized) version of Survivor. Yet, if you watch the show or give it a chance, it is so much more.
The Meat of the Show
Lost encompasses several different genres throughout the series ranging from drama to comedy to thriller/horror to sci-fi. Its main component and initial strength is its character development which is most emphasized the first season but continues to the series end. While some episodes feature several different character perspectives, most episodes split up the episode into two sides—the action sequence, i.e. what is happening on the island among the survivors and the flashbacks of the survivors. As the series continues, there are additional characters added to our group and those that cycle out, but the story focuses around a group of the following survivors:
  • Jack, the doctor and appointed head of the survivors
  • Kate, a strong individual and deviant of the law
  • Sawyer, a con-man with a penchant for cruel nicknames
  • Charlie, a washed up, has-been musician
  • Locke, an Zen-like outdoorsman who enjoys hunting
  • Sayid, an ex-communications officer and basically the McGuiver of all things technical
  • Hurley, an unlucky friend to all who frequently addresses those around him as “dude”
  • Sun and Jin, an unhappily married Korean couple
  • Shannon and Boone, a brother and sister with an antagonistic relationship
  • Michael and Walt, the artistic father and his mysterious son
  • Claire, the sweet pregnant girl
In addition to having an ensemble cast, the show has a group of fantastic writers and some memorable guest actors like Julie Bowen (Boston Legal) and Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle). A few of the main actors (Hurley, Sun, and Sayid) had roles written for them while Sawyer's role was tweaked when the writers met Josh Holloway. The series was filmed almost entirely in Hawaii, although ironically the few times it was not filmed there, you would never be able to tell.

Lost isn't afraid to make you hate characters or their decisions, since good versus evil within all is one of the motifs of the show. Some series are afraid to have characters change, grow, and develop into something new unless they're getting killed off. However, Lost's characters do change, and it's not always as simple as for better or worse (occasionally it happens every other episode). Their personalities are deep, their issues are real, and their actions are typically justified (debatable). A viewer who dislikes a character one season may find him/herself enjoying that same character in a different season and vice-versa. The island also serves as a kind of character in and of itself and an environment where characters are given a second chance, or as Locke says “a new life.”
Easter eggs are scattered throughout the show—literary references, allusions, numbers, rewound words, and repeated phrases that all act as clues on the show. Some of these phrases often end up defining the characters throughout the series. Locke's “don't tell me what I can't do,” is said ad nauseaum. Instead of “whodunnit,” the audience is always left asking questions about the characters or coming to their own conclusion as to where the plot is going and what the island is.
Season Breakdown
The first season could be described as “Lord of the Flies” meets “Jurassic Park.” The survivors adapt to their current situation together, doubt and fear each other, and run from the island's dangers. They plan potential rescues, appoint a leader (Jack, the doctor), and struggle with their own inner demons. Jack especially, has to learn to be the hero he is reluctant to become and to make hard decisions that need to be made in order to keep his people safe. We learn that the island is “special,” and that the people who end up on the island could be special also.

The second season begins to better connect the characters to one another. They form more lasting friendships, yet their fears and desires also work against the interest of the group. Coincidences begin to rise, and the survivors realize that they truly are not alone. Instead of planning for rescue, they plant roots and worry about the inhabitants of the island.
The third season becomes convoluted in terms of mind games, secret agendas, and illusions that craft the characters into a tug-of-war game of lies and revealed truths. Fourth season tackles the “You don't always get what you wish for” aspect of the main characters, fifth season is defined by science fiction confusion, and the sixth season tackles a type of alternate reality while finishing up the series.

The six seasons can also be divided into two categories. The first half focuses on the characters, leaving their past behind, banding together, and the history of the island. The second half focuses on the future of the characters and the full-circle ripples of their development. More than a few times, my friends and I would come to the end of an episode baffled by what happened and say to one another, “I'll have to watch that one again.”
Regardless of your hesitation, I recommend this to anyone looking for a new television show to watch. I will admit that Lost has its flaws, but I believe it is worth the journey. It is best viewed in linear fashion, i.e. starting at the first episode and going forward. It's not the type of series you can pick up halfway through, and although this may sound boring, once you get into the show you'll understand that it is not boring to watch. I don't think I was truly hooked on the show until the fourth or fifth episode, so watch a few before making the decision to quit. Warning! this show is very time consuming, and more often than not the episodes end on cliff hangers. If you have a busy lifestyle and don't consider yourself someone who enjoys watching tv often, this show probably isn't for you.

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