Sunday, May 16, 2010

My LOST series retrospective 1 of 7: How it hooked me

This week’s blogs are not for all of you people.  That is because my subject matter will be so focused that it will be seven consecutive nights about the same thing.  It won’t make a lick of sense to most of you, whereas others will know exactly what I am talking about.   Of course I am referring to my favorite television series of all-time, LOST.

The X-files was my previous favorite television series.  I never thought that it would be replaced.  At least not until I was real old and liked a silly old person show like Matlock.  Low and behold, the year 2004 came about and dropped a special gem onto my television set.  I remember watching the first episode in my dorm room.  Honestly, it was a complete accident that I ever bothered to turn it on.  For whatever reason, I had ABC on that night.  I don’t even know what else was showing.  I had read bits and pieces about the show on various websites but didn’t give it much thought.   It sounded like a dramatic Gilligan’s Island to me.  It was nothing that hadn’t been tried before (oh how I was wrong on that point). 
So there it was, on my television, by accident.  I nearly turned it off when it came on, but then I recalled some of the advertisements that had previously come up.  It surprised me that I was watching the pilot episode because I assumed it was halfway through its first season by that point.  Since I realized that I was watching the very first episode, I decided to keep it on.  My first thought was that I recognized that one guy from some other show.  Lucky for me, there was the IMDB on my computer to give me a hand.  As it would appear, it was the guy who played the bearded older brother on Party of Five.  Hmmm.  I wasn’t so sure about this.  He woke up in the jungle and ran around in front of a plane engine that blew up behind him.  There was some pregnant woman and that guy who looked like a hobbit.  There was a lot going on, but I understood the main premise.  They crashed on a deserted island and they were royally fucked.

After the chaos slowed down we caught up with the heroic doctor guy played by Matthew Fox.  He was all banged up and bleeding a bit from some damage.  I was starting to lose interest when I fell in love at first sight.

There she was.  Kate Austin.  Who was played by some no name Canadian actress who went by Evangeline Lily.  Now that is something I could tune into every week.  However, I am not a teenage girl, so I don’t watch television shows or movies just because one of the stars is hot.  Kate, however, wasn’t hot as much as she was cute.  The girl next door type.  I could deal with that.  There needed to be something to hook me so that this show could become something I could watch every week.  Something.  Anything.  Could something just happen for me already!

Then the questions started to be raised.  What is with the handcuffs?  Why is the hobbit so squirrely?  Why is that long haired hick so racist?  OMG, can we trust an Iraqi?  That Asian guy probably beats his wife!  What is with the creepy old man?  These questions seemingly warmed me up for the first official “What the Fuck” moment I would have watching LOST.  

There was something in the jungle.  It appeared to be big and capable of causing some trees to be rustled at their tops.  Even better is that it sounded like something big.  A creature of sorts.  Possibly a dinosaur?  No?  Really?  I dunno.   Some people immediately thought it sounded like an elephant.  Psh. As if, internet geeks.  The point is that it was the first moment where I realized that the island wasn’t just an island in the Pacific.  It was some kind of Lost World style island with some shenanigans from deep within.  I could follow that.  

Eventually we had some characters run into the jungle to find the plane.  We learned the plane mysteriously lost contact with the mainland.  Then we learned that the Hobbit was a drug addict.  This was getting interesting.  These people are a real fucked up bunch of people.  At this point I was immediately theorizing that there had to be something involving aliens.  That plane ripped right open in the flashbacks.  What the hell does that?  A UFO, that’s what.  I needed a moment to catch my breath a bit and HOLD ON!   WOW.  Okay, I’m hooked.

Maybe I was almost hooked.  Getting hooked didn’t happen until a mother fucking polar bear came running through the jungle.  Where the hell did a polar bear come from?  Even more of a question was about where the redneck got his gun from?   He probably shouldn’t have that.  He was bound to take a shot at the Iraqi soldier.   It was in the second half of the pilot episode where Kate became even hotter because she was the one who was on the plane in handcuffs.  A bad girl next door?  Okay.  That sealed the deal.  The icing on the cake was the mysterious transmission in French that had been sounding off on a distress alert for about 16 years.  That is some messed up shit right there. 

And that, my friends, is what got me hooked on LOST with the first episode.  At that point it was just interesting.  I had no idea that it was going to become my favorite show.  What they did in the six years to follow was beyond my wildest dreams for a television show.  With each episode I would become more intrigued about the past of the characters and the mysteries of that island.  Eventually Jack would see his dead father.  John Locke would find a hatch in the middle of the jungle.  A creepy man known as one of The Others would abduct Claire.  Voices would whisper in the jungle.  A pirate ship would be found in the middle of the island.  The list goes on for mysteries established in the first season of the show.   The most intriguing of which would be the various moments where we saw the castaways’ lives interact long before they ever got to that island.  Little did we know at the time that this was perhaps the most important fact of them all.

There had never been a show quite like it.  It was a rarity at the time because of its serial nature.  You needed to catch every week to understand what was going on.  There were no stand alone episodes.  It was one big story, like a series of books.  This kind of thing usually didn’t work with the short attention span of America.  However, it did work.  Good writing, good acting, and a great story-telling method established brilliant characterization amidst a superb mystery.  LOST revolutionized the storytelling method known as the “flashback”.  I will be talking about that concept tomorrow night.

As for the rest of the week, expect some of the following ideas to come from me:

My list of favorite episodes
The episode that propelled LOST to the next level
My favorite characters
LOST’s biggest contributions to television
Science Fiction goes main stream
My thoughts re-watching earlier episodes with the knowledge of where everything is at now
My flash sideways story

The list might get bigger or smaller depending on how much time I have.   I am sure my fellow LOST fans will appreciate what I have to say.  If you aren’t a LOST fan and are still reading this, well, you wasted your time.   Time for sleep.  I have a busy week ahead of me.

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