Lost is a new series on TV that I think you should be watching. I’ve seen 3 of the 4 episodes so far and its very interesting and compelling.
Lost is the story of the 47 survivors of a plane crash on a Pacific island. So far we’ve learned a little about many of the characters, why they were in Australia, why they where on the flight and some bits and pieces about their pasts. On the surface, it appears to be a ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ survival story, only without the familial cheerines. But. The island is not what it seems. Strange things keep happening. Some sort of creature lives in the jungle and randomly attacks people, but it doesn’t eat them. The survivors killed a polar bear in the 2nd episode. The main character keeps seeing someone around the camp that no one else sees. There is a distress signal playing from an unknown location on island. Its been broadcasting for 16 years.
These elements give Lost a significant supernatural, if not downright SF, feel. We don’t know why the plane crashed. We don’t know where they are. We don’t know anything about the island, only that strange things are occuring.
Another interesting thing, and one that begins to straing the old ‘suspension of disbelief’, is that each episode a character’s past is explored in quick flashbacks. Now, while its nice to get to know the survivors, and it puts a human face on them, the odd thing is each one appears to have a secret or to not be what they appear to be. Now, it may be that this quirk is explained in the coming episodes. So far its been done well, and I hope it continues.
In general, its been a well acted, well written story. You actually care about some of the people involved and even the ‘bad guys’ are engaging. This puts me in mind of Babylon 5 and, I think, the writers are setting us up for big switches etc. in the later episodes, much like the changes in Londo and G’Kar.
There is one thing that bothers me. How long can they, the writers, go before revealing the secret of the island? I could see perhaps 2 seasons, but viewers are going to want answers. Witness what happened to Twin Peaks. You can’t keep hinting and dancing around things without resolution or you will lose viewers. I’m thining 2 seasons is pushing it. So, the question is: Does Losr jump the shark with the big reveal or wil it end? Will ABC let a show thats been getting top 10 – 20 ratings end its run comparatively early? I don’t know, but I don’t see how they can keep this up without answering questions.
Which leads me to something I’ve been thinking about. After the above thoughts bounced around, I reached the conclusion that Lost would be the perfect TV series to try out an Americanized version of the anime format. I don’t mean by being animated or even being 30 minutes long. I mean by having a story played out and over with in 20 – 25 episodes. With the hour format, each episode can go into more depth and the more time can be spent with the story. Since it has a definate ending, fans can be assured that the story will be told and it won’t be cancelled. An additional benefit: season long stories would force the writers to become more creative and inventive since they would have to create a new series, from scratch, every season. I think it would be a good thing.
So, set your VCRs (if you still live in the 20th century) or your Tivo-like devices to record Lost. This Saturday, ABC will be showing episodes 4 and 5. Oh yeah, they’re in HDTV too…