by pat howard

LOST | My first time: season one

In Lost on June 22, 2009 at 1:51 pm

I don’t have a hard time admitting when I’m wrong. And it’s not that I had written Lost off as a pop culture runaway train…but I missed the beginning and it didn’t strike me as the sort of thing one should stumble into the middle of. So I was going to wait it out, and watch the whole thing once it finished airing next May. But somehow the DVDs ended up in my house, and I started watching them last week. Initially I was annoyed with it, this beautifully shot show that seemed to be aimless. I have now finished the first season, and I’m having a hard time staying away from the DVD player.

It’s hard to read about Lost on the Internet without skirting spoiler territory. Granted, I have a basic sense of what to expect, plot-wise; running in the circles I do, it’s impossible not to get at least dribs and drabs. But those nuggets don’t really make sense out of context, and that’s especially true in as serialized and mythologized a series as this. But in all the comparisons I’ve read (Survivor meets Gilligan’s Island meets “Castaway”, etc.), I’m struck by the One Thousand and One Nights aspect of it all — this is a show that could potentially never run out of stories.

This is an intensely creative show, and relying on individual characters’ histories as alternate plotlines for most episodes is a good way of hedging your bets and keeping the audience interested one way or another. If nothing else, the cinematography is astounding enough to keep you engaged all on its own. I had an initial sense of who I would and wouldn’t like, character-wise, and enough of that seems to have been rooted in creative intent that I now find myself coming around on some of the folks I initially wrote off (see: Sawyer).

Though I imagine this would be an infuriating mess to try to watch week-to-week (a theory I’ll put to the test come January), this is definitely a masterpiece of this watch-it-as-a-whole-on-DVD golden age of television storytelling that we seem to be taking for granted. And this at a time when audiences are supposedly more fragmented than ever. In the ’70s it seems like shows would’ve had a better shot with these season-long arcs — there were no DVDs or even VCRs, so audiences were watching live each week and there were far fewer shows to keep up with.

It’s admirable that ABC and the gang running Lost worked out the deal that they did. One of the perils of episodic television is the unending middle; once you start a series, you never know when the end might be coming until it is upon you, if you have advance notice at all. Here, we have a complete story, fully fleshed out and guaranteed to have the time it needs to get where it’s going. Tell me this isn’t the golden age of television.

  1. Good for you for getting on the train. Come visit my blog someday, once you catch up (not before).

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