Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Geek Out: Lost Is Back!

So like a smoking hot, stir-crazy ex-girlfriend that just moved back into town, Lost is on the air again and I find myself falling back into old habits. Habits I forgot I had. Maybe not so much "habits" as an obsessive compulsive disorder brought about by what I can only describe as a "broadcast television anomaly."


I could break down what the two-hour season premiere episode meant, like every other blog, or I could just write about why I think it's one of the best shows to come out of the past decade.

Before Lost, the only television shows you'd ever catch me watching were either The Daily Show or South Park for their biting satire, or an HBO original series like Oz, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under or Carnivale, which all played out like visual novels, were commercial free and had REAL characters that are near impossible to develop in major motion motion pictures these days.

As far as I was concerned, CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and the WB/UPN/CW were a wasteland of bland sitcoms, reality shows, "gritty" spin-offs of mediocre dramas and something vaguely resembling local news.

Then a friend who I was lending comics to lent me the first season of Lost in return. I was hooked immediately. IMMEDIATELY!! I was blazing through a four-episode disc per night. A week later, I was "buying" the remaining episodes online, catching up about halfway through the 2nd season. By this point, I was like a schizophrenic junkie: not sleeping, swatting away bugs that weren't really there and repeating the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 over and over and over and over and over.

And numbers are just one of the many flailing conspiracy tentacles that Lost uses to keep a grip on it's audience. There are fresh spins on the cliched flashback technique, endless uses of symbolism and re-occurring characters who turn up in the most unexpected of places. On top of all that, the show is constantly nodding to other great works of literature, film and television. I say "noddng" because the show is by no means ripping off it's inspirations, but honoring them. Why do you think Sawyer reads on the beach so much? Usually it's because they're riffing on that particular story. And they keep doing that until you have this complex tapestry that works. In fact, they put books wherever they can fit them on that island. It's practically a library!

When you get down to it, the show is a combination of The Stand, The Prisoner, Watchmen, Lord of the Flies, Watership Down, Slaughterhouse Five, Of Mice & Men, The Twilight Zone, Fantasy Island and countless others while at the same time, completely original.

Having to adjust to watching one episode per week and putting up with excessively loud commercial interruptions was too much for me. I went into shock from withdrawals and filled that void by browsing websites that dissected the episodes. It's no wonder that the producers quickly took to releasing viral videos on YouTube between seasons. They even published a book of noir fiction by an author that only ever existed on the show.

With all this going on, this is a series that shines when the viewer is actively engaged. There's plenty of explosions and backstabbing and wet t-shirts and one-liners to make it enjoyable for passive viewing, but that's only half the fun. And you don't have to lurk through Lostpedia or play the latest Dharma game to be "active." (Although it helps)

Just pay attention to the details. Even the ones that probably don't mean anything. It's better that way.

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