Category Archives: Lost

Keeping the Faith

Remember Twin Peaks? The first season of that still stands as possibly the most brilliant television I have ever seen. Then came the second season. Unfortunately it was not anywhere close to being brilliant television. I watched it till the bitter end though. The very bitter end. In fact…it was this past weekend that I finally brought myself to junk the VHS tapes I had made when it aired.

Well, now my beloved Lost is in its sixth and final season. It’s starting to feel a lot like that second season of Twin Peaks.

I’m still doggedly watching though. We’re getting answers; I’m just not loving the answers we’re getting.

If I had to put my finger on why I’m not loving this, I think it comes down to time travel. I’m not a big fan of the time travel device — Dr. Who notwithstanding. The problem with time paradoxes is that they get messy very very quickly. There are two many holes to plug up and I don’t think I’ve ever seen or read a story where the writer(s) was(were) able to do that successfully. So when they started up with the time travel, I allowed some doubt to creep in. It’s been there ever since.

But I’m still watching…

Stop the presses!

I watched Lost last night and didn’t hate Kate. And I have hated Kate for three years now. For once she was resourceful and intelligent and not immersed in the adolescent triangle of choosing between Jack and Sawyer. The fans on the various forums seem to be really disappointed with this season; I’m not. Okay, last week’s episode with the stupid tatoos was mediocre, but on the whole the third season has been high in quality. Last night’s episode was Hurley-centric and although nothing radically new was revealed, it was fun! Sometimes fun is a good thing. Too much angst and I get bored.

And in other news, Megan McTavish, who is the headwriter for my soap, All My Children is out. Praise be. Now I can start watching it again. She’s been writing the show into the ground ever since they rehired her.

I’ve heard a lot lately about how the soap opera genre is dying. I don’t know that this is true.
It’s like there’s a huge divide between what the viewers want and what TPTB think the viewers want. It would also be nice if they started writing for this century–from the diverse makeup of our cities and towns to the more enlightened attitudes that most Americans possess. There’s a dearth of intelligence and continuity in the writing and that’s what’s killing soaps. It’s not the medium that’s obsolete. It’s the current crew that writes and produces that medium.

Just one more thing

I’ve rediscovered Columbo. Yeah, it’s formulaic to a fault, but I find it oddly engrossing. Also, in general, I’ve found that watching these things as an adult and knowing who all the guest stars are adds something to the equation.

HBO had on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last night. I’m sorry to say I turned it off about a half hour in. Part of the problem is the three leads. They were barely passable as child actors in the first couple of films. Now that they’re in their late adolescent years, well, their performances haven’t matured as well as their bodies. It’s too bad really. I liked the third film a lot and thought that the director had gotten some good things out of them.

Haven’t been watching all that much else except Lost. Since there’s this hiatus until February, I took out my DVDs and have been doing a little marathon of my own. The series really holds up to this kind of viewing. If anything it becomes more enjoyable. I can’t say I’ve come to any earth-shattering conclusions. Although I wonder if the glass eye they found at the Arrow station possibly belongs to this guy.

All My Children continues its inexorable downward slide. Every time I think the writing can’t get any worse, it does. They’ve lost Julia Barr, Vincent Irizarry, and if the rumors are true, Walt Willey. I keep taking longer and longer breaks away from the show. It’s painful, because I’ve been watching the darn thing for 20 years now. Scary, no?

Those pesky social scientists

Sadly, Jade is [insert Tyra Banks overly dramatic delivery here] “still in the running to become America’s Next Top Model“. She’s too old and too deluded. Why is she still on this show?

On another, less plebian note, new episode of Lost last night. Now they’re running rather creepy commercials (as well as print ads) for the Hanso Foundation as part of an online name. Basically, more clues about Alvar Hanso, the DeGroots, and those other fun folks at the Dharma Initiative.

I’m still annoyed beyond belief at what they did to Libby, the Cynthia Watros character. There’s an interview out there with an executive producer. Nice spin job, not too terribly convincing. It seems far more likely her character met the fate she did because of the DUI incident. I’m just ticked because I’ve liked Watros since she played crazy Annie Dutton on Guiding Light. On the other hand, it appears she’ll have some future appearances in flashbacks so that’s one consolation.

Other than that, it was a most interesting episode. I’ve been wondering if the task in the Swan hatch were part of a Skinner Box or a Milgram experiment, and it appears I am not far off. A friend of mine has a theory it’s all part of a virtual reality experiment and that’s possible too. I guess we’ll see.

Insomnia reared its ugly head again. This time I ended up listening to the commentary track for Revenge of the Sith. It was ROTS or the end of That Certain Woman with Bette Davis and Henry Fonda. That looked turgid. The next film up was Marked Woman. Bette is a “hostess” (contemporary audiences would have known “hostess” equaled prostitute) at a mobster’s nightclub. This was a way of getting around the Hays/Production Code).Her innocent sister gets mixed up in the nefarious goings-on and it’s up to Humphrey Bogart (the DA) and Bette to get justice. Interesting flick, but I’ve only seen it six times. So I settled on Revenge of the Sith.

Like all the other Star Wars commentary tracks, it’s sadly lacking. I can appreciate the special effects, but I’m far more interested in the story and the acting and the writing. The Star Wars’ commentary tracks, by and large, are devoted to the technical aspects of the movies. That’s fine and lord knows, they have their place and their own fanbase. What I don’t get is why they can’t spring for two separate tracks. You have one for the actors and maybe Lucas (who still has a hard time fathoming the necessity for exposition and character development) and one for the production ends of things. Far lesser films–heck, films with much lower budgets–manage to have multiple tracks. Somebody wanna tell me why they can’t manage to do this for Star Wars?

Hic sunt dragones

New episode of Lost this week. So far the show’s season has been, well, uneven. Occasional flashes of brilliance, followed by long patches of mediocrity. Last night was one of the brilliant ones. As regular viewers will know, each week is written around a different character using flashbacks. This week was Locke’s, which is always a good starting point. Terry O’Quinn is a strong performer who can pretty rock anything he’s given. This was no exception. Also featured in the episode was Michael Emerson. One thing I love about this show is the fact that so many character actors are given nice meaty parts in which to shine.

Strong episode, minimal Kate (always a good thing), and a nice big fat juicy puzzle for those inclined to tackle it. Namely a map with equations, Latin phrases, cryptic notes. My favorite phrase is “hic sunt dragones” which translates to “there be dragons.” It’s a phrase commonly found on older maps from the days of yore. Namely when there were uncharted regions. Nothing worse than the unknown, I guess.

Instant gratification

Lost is probably a good third through the second season by now. My initial misgivings and fears appear to have been misplaced. I feel a little guilty for my lack of trust because the past two episodes have been excellent.

I notice that on a lot of the message boards these days most of us are very impatient with TV programs. A show has one bad or poorly written scene and that’s it, we declare, it’s jumped the shark. I’m not sure if it’s because now you don’t even have to wait till the next time you’re around the proverbial water cooler to talk about a film or television show you saw. It could be very easy to find your opinion swaying after reading oh, 25 pages worth of comments saying that a program was awful. Or even if it holds true, you might not want to venture posting that you disagree.

I haven’t done as much writing as I would like to, but from my brief experiences with fiction (nothing published–I just have a stack of legal pads on the bottom of a closet), I do know that sometimes there has to be set-up. You need exposition. Characters need to develop. And yet, knowing that full well and having been critical of media where this does not happen, here I’ve been griping when I don’t get what I want immediately. Perhaps patience is in order…

Sometimes my arms bend back

There have been three episodes of Lost so far and I’m not exactly overjoyed. Perhaps it’s appropriate that the season premiere was entitled “Man of Science, Man of Faith” and that this is a theme that’s been developing throughout the show. Right now, I’m thinking about the episodes for the second season that have been broadcast and the rational, logic-preferring side of me is unhappy.

The season premiere, to put it bluntly, sucked. Yes, we found out what was in the hatch. I fully understand that really there was no answer to that mystery that would have been satisfactory. Stephen King talks about why you don’t want to reveal the monster in the closet in Danse Macabre. Essentially, he says it’s because human imagination is always going to top whatever the author can come up (ironic, because he always reveals the monster in the closet, every darn time).

I haven’t liked the use of flashbacks at all this season. They worked so well last year because they either advanced the plot or they provided motivation for the characters. Also, they opened up the story. Now it seems that this last is all that they’re doing. Harold Perrineau is a very talented performer, but I kinda got it last season when we saw that Walt’s mother not only took Walt away from Michael, but that she managed to make him feel guilty for trying to protest. Did we really need a repeat of that? Jack has problems letting go. Yep, got that big time. Locke’s father is a nasty piece of work, yep, I was there the first time around.

There are some very bright, learned, intelligent people out there on various boards and around water coolers picking up on the show’s many literary and cinematic allusions. People talking about philosophy and social psychology. People playing around with the numbers. And that’s great, except that there’s a big part of me flashing back to Agent Dale Cooper’s dream in Twin Peaks. Back then we had USENET, and I saw (and participated in) some pretty heavy duty analysis. What exactly did it mean about “that gum you like is coming back in style?” And “oh, did you see the way Nadine’s arms bent back on the rowing machine?”

It turned out to be a lot less involved than we wanted it to be. That’s my fear for Lost.

But there’s also a part of me that wants to keep the faith. We have such limited attention spans in America. If we don’t get instant gratification, something must be really wrong. Maybe, like Locke, I do need to make a leap of faith and hang on. Or not.

I haven’t quite decided yet.

Now that’s a DVD set

To my great joy, I received the Lost – The Complete First Season DVDs last week. I went straight for the extras disc, which was loaded. All of them were worth watching. I’ve been working my way through the episodes (lots of commentaries too). What fascinates me most is that very little had been decided upon in the pilot in relation to characters, and yet the actors still managed to deliver incredible performances and the writers made it all work retroactively. That’s easier said than done.

It’s a nice set. I would have purchased it for the episodes alone, but it’s getting to the point now, where I not only want a lot of extras but I’ve come to expect them too. Still, it’s a pleasant thing to see that my favorite show has a set that’s loaded with highly watchable and interesting material.

Also, they bought a plane and deconstructed it for the pilot. How cool is that?

Keeping the momentum going

So Lost’s season finale was last night. I unhooked the phone, lest any inconsiderate telemarketer or friend call, and I sat down to watch it with great anticipation. I never know if anyone outside my friends are reading this, but if you don’t care to be spoiled, you might want to go and do something else now (same thing goes for Watership Down).

On the whole, I’m happy with the end product. I’ve already got the Season 1 DVD pre-ordered and I’m glad I did that. We didn’t learn the answers to any of the huge questions like where are they? or what Lostzilla (the giant, invisible, tree-stomping monster) is all about, or what’s in that mysterious hatch. There was, however, some resolution to a few of the various characters’ respective stories, which makes me happy. Nobody I cared about died (and believe me I was terrified that either Hurley or Charlie were going to come to a bad end). As far as I can see, there’s lots of room for some interesting episodes next fall.

A friend of mine, who doesn’t watch the show regularly, thinks it’s going to go the way of Twin Peaks — that is a brilliant first season that never quite gels after that. And there’s something to be said for that POV. If you start with a bang, unless you can maintain a high level of excellence, there’s nowhere to go but down. Given modern audience expectations and attention span, you can’t spin out the anticipation too long either.

Couple of points I found intriguiing. There’s a scene where Locke distinguishes himself as a “man of faith” from Jack’s “man of science.” Locke’s behavior all along has been consistent with that of an Old Testament prophet–the sacrificing of Boone, the belief he’s being tested, and so on. Interestingly this particular scene takes place after Lostzilla attempted to carry off Locke with distinctly mechanical sounds in the background. Is that because we’re seeing the events from Jack’s perspective?

On another note, up until the last few episodes, there’s been a disturbing parallel with Watership Down. In the book, there’s a sequence where the rabbits travel to a strange warren of very healthy, very docile rabbits for whom mention of the outside world and any question of “where” are taboo. It turns out that a farmer has made this particular warren a very comfortable one. He’s kept other threats away. He leaves food for the rabbits. And periodically, he traps and kills them.

Back to Lost. Despite the incontrovertible evidence that there are other people on the island, for the longest time, few of the castaways mention it. Claire was kidnapped for weeks–a 8 and 1/2 month pregnant woman, mind you–and after the initial attempt at rescue, the other castaways are tripping off into the jungle alone totally unconcerned. No mention of her. No further attempts to get her back. I don’t think it was sloppy writing. I think that was intentional.

Anyhow, just some random thoughts…

Cheating

Wednesday night’s have turned into must-see TV for me. The show I run home to watch, and set two VCRs to record (just in case the one fails or some idiot decides that 8-9PM EST is a proper time to phone me), is of course, Lost.

Well, color me disappointed. I really don’t care for the Psych/Gotcha! trick. It seems like cheating to me. It wasn’t that I was happy with the plot outcome for Shannon (I’m hesitant to post more but I have no idea who if anyone reads these, and I don’t want to spoil the plot), she’s kind of grown on me. But it was too much like “Whoops! Didn’t you know the entire second season was just a dream?” for me.