This post is going to be written by me, Wyatt, as Walt’s taking the day off (apparently finals are approaching and he’s getting a bit neurotic). Anyhoo…
I recently started re-watching one of my favorite shows again–Lost. I’m currently about halfway through the first season. I know a lot of people didn’t like the end of the series (and, actually, I’ll include myself in that group), but watching the beginning episodes again reminded me how great the start of that show was.
Let’s start with the premise: a group of people stranded on an island. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff. But this is actually instructive, because it shows how even a relatively stale premise can be given new life with careful plotting, some imaginative ideas, and well-drawn characters.
Each of the episodes is basically divided into two parts: there’s the principal narrative, which takes place on the island, and then there’s also, within each episode, a flashback for one of the characters. This works well for TV–especially for a show with a large cast of characters–as it provides a snapshot and the basic framework for each character’s past (I’m not confident such a tactic would work well in a novel…maybe in a collection of short stories? What do you think?). The flashback vignettes themselves are wide-ranging, and often just as exciting as whatever’s happening on the island. There’s this sense as you’re watching of discovery: not just new, strange things about the island, but the strange circumstances by which these people arrived on the island.
I’ve been surprised, given that I know how everything turns out, that the show is still able to draw me in. On the one hand, it’s a bit nostalgic. I was fifteen years old the last time I watched this! That’s crazy. What’s even stranger is that I find myself remembering myself watching it all those years ago, basically going insane with curiosity at the end of every episode.
I think my favorite television moment of all time is at the end of season one, with the last shot of John Locke and Jack staring down the opening of the hatch. First of all, only JJ Abrams could make a hole in the ground so incredibly exciting. Secondly, it might be one of the greatest cliffhangers of any narrative ever (thank God for Netflix–next season, please!). I remember being absolutely distraught when the show first came out. I couldn’t imagine waiting an entire year to find out what was in that hatch!
Ultimately, I think what happened to Lost was that the show started to collapse under the weight of its own expectations. That tends to happen with a lot of interesting/edgy entertainment. There are only so many rabbit holes one can tumble down. But it’s been a great experience re-watching these episodes, and I look forward to seeing the rest.
What’s your favorite TV series? Any interesting ones I should check out now? Let me know in the comments section. As always, thanks for reading,