Friday, July 23, 2010

Lost, Dealing With My Pain

My three co-authors were all sitting at the table with me when I had like 4 glasses of wine and was literally pounding the table and yelling about how Lost, on the whole, sucked (and the other people in the restaurant started looking at us). And Open Bar, who actually quit the show at one point for the same reasons I was giving, was trying to defend it much to my surprise. I was willing to withhold judgement until the end of the series, but shit man, I'm really disappointed with the way it turned out. My general point, outside of the pounding and yelling, was that the pilot episode ends with the line, "Guys, where are we?", and after 125 episodes we still don't know. And in fact, we are no closer to knowing than in that pilot. Incidentally, I decided to try and crystallize my thoughts here after seeing Inception today. You have most likely just read the post I'm about to write on that movie, but the short version is that Inception was very good because it was intricate, challenging, and purposely ambiguous without being utterly ponderous. Think 12 Monkeys or even possibly The Usual Suspects. I will probably cut and paste those two sentences into the next post.

Anyway, Lost started the show with essentially two parallel story lines. The shit happening on the island was the sci-fi geeky shit about the nature of the island and what its function was and then the flashbacks were the character studies of the people before they got there and eventually after they left. And somewhere along the way they just dropped the geeky shit altogether and decided to just do the character studies. So it's really easy to decide who will ultimately like and who will ultimately hate the show. If you like the character study, then you liked it, and if you liked the geeky shit and the mystical theories, then you hated it. There's no right or wrong here, except that the show creators could have feasibly decided to finish telling both stories and then everyone would have been happy. I can't possibly fathom being satisfied with the ending of the show, so if you are (Bars, both Open and Side), then I'll just leave you to it. But please don't try and convince me that the story is anything other than 50% told.

At this point I'm really essentially certain of the fact that they just got in way over their heads with the geeky shit and just decided to not ever address it at all, except in the way it intertwined with the character study. The smoke monster, the voices in the forest, the flash sideways, whatever. If those things didn't play a role in the story about fake John Locke and Hurley and Michael and everybody, then they, just like a billion other things, would have been dropped.

It's not even worth making a list of questions that were unanswered. I could go on forever. But I'll say that what I was really hoping was to see the origins of Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking (who predated the Dharma Initiative), the origins of the Dharma Initiative (including how they found the island, how they know its importance, and some actual exposition on the whole Valenzetti Equation thing), the origins of the Egyptian iconography. And I'm not thinking about things that were addressed that just don't sit right with me (Sayid and Shannon?). That's entirely outside the scope of my little exposition here.

And in comparing it to Inception, I'm not the only one who's thinking this way. In the 11 Points list on Inception, there are some points that I think sum this up nicely:
Unlike the later "Matrix" movies, this isn't a complex story whose complexity comes from the fact that there isn't actually a definitive story. (replace "Matrix" movies with "Lost" TV show.)
and also
"Lost" was considered a smart TV show but part of the reason that smart people couldn't solve it was because there really wasn't something to solve. We could've taken Stephen Hawking off of his current workload and had him devote the past six years to trying to figure out why Libby and Hurley were in the same mental institution -- and he would've failed, because there was no answer.
Here's the best summary I can give about my feelings on Lost. Basically every individual episode was engaging, interesting, worth watching, and most importantly entertaining. And for most shows you would say that as long as you were entertained by those 125 hours, then you got your money's worth. I wasn't expecting meta-answers from Full House, I just liked to hear Uncle Jesse say "have mercy" and watch Dave Coulier do Bullwinkle impressions. But this show was different. Full house was a walk around the block and we made it every time. This show was a plane flight across the Pacific and we.....well, you see where I'm going here. On the whole it fell short. Like way short. To the extent that there simply is no feasible solution to a lot of the things I found most interesting.

And I know I've essentially said the same thing in previous posts and also to you guys in person, but now that I've said it one last time, I think I can let it go.

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