Saturday, June 5, 2010

Lost and How Camille Got Me Interested

I wasn't aware of the ABC show Lost till after my friend Camille (I reviewed her first studio-released album here) told me about it as we were chatting one night circa 1AM my time and who-knows-whatAM/PM her jet setting time. I think Camille was in South Africa then and she would use her iPod to watch some shows as she'd unwind from a long day of travails.
At the time I wasn't watching commercial TV with the exception of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Generally I don't do 'conventional' TV, i.e., the kind where commercials always interject at the most inopportune time. Interruptions tend to vex, or more importantly, they tend to make me lose interest and I give in to digressions. See, they've done it as I'm writing this. Point made!
A year after learning about the show from Camille, I got a call from another pal of mine who was asking me what I thought about Jack and Kate and John. I think I said something akin to 'I'm a year behind but will rent the first season soon.'
And that I did.
I remember finding the pilot interesting mostly out of novelty reasons. There was nothing on TV that resembled the intensity of storytelling of this show. It took me a few days to carve out enough time to catch up on the show. I remember I was teaching a graduate course on Middle High German during the time I got caught up on Lost and I remember a sensing some compatibility between the texts I was using in my course and the content of the show. The first thought I had while watching the show at the beginning was that the creators were either educated in the literature and philosophy of the Middle Ages or they had some interest in medievalism and the rebirth of interest in things medieval back in the 19th century.
Esoteric talk aside, the reason why Lost made me think of the Middle Ages is because of one person: Dante. Dante, in his Divine Comedy, details the journey of Dante, the man, as well as Dante, the poet, through Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The Divine Comedy is fundamentally about a person's journey to find the ultimate meaning of living with others and, most importantly, with one's self.
The in-between seasons of Lost, i.e., what transpired between Season 3 up to the season finale resembled the awkward journey of an adolescent where much doesn't make sense but other stuff oozes potential even though it might not actually get actualized.
The season finale, however, was to my liking. It seemed, to me, to be a tip of the hat to Dante's Divine Comedy. The show made me think of Dante's journey through Purgatorio where the damaged souls still have a chance to purge themselves of past foibles of human life and find some redemption. The remaining characters in this unusual show find moments of connectivity and human meaning but for a few moments as they touch one another and memories of a 'past life' or past experiences come to life. It is during these moments that the finale truly delivers. What made this show interesting in the beginning is that it dared to ask questions about the meaning of life and a person's journey through various challenges and crises.
Of course, Lost is an unusual TV accomplishment. There was nothing like it on TV when it first premiered back in 2004 and there's not anything at all like it in 2010, a time when commercial TV is full of embarrassing reality TV where so little of it is TV and much of it is only real in the brain of some producer who is convinced that everyone wants to see people make fools of themselves in front of the camera. But I digress, again.
Lost is one of those shows where the viewer was still given some dignity and respect, for the most part. The viewers were given the impression that they mattered and that they could enjoy 40+ minutes of modern programing that somehow felt informed, enamored of meaning, and soundly literary.

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JJ said...

Lost was a far better show than most, that's for sure. I agree that it got weird in the middle but the last season was interesting.

Sra said...

I have never seen Lost, but maybe I'll get to it someday. Your review makes that more likely. The x-files is a show that I liked because it didn't talk down to the audience but wanted us to participate in the journey. That, and it's character-driven, whereas so many shows these days are driven by formulaically achieving balance and then upsetting it over and over, which gets old to me. I can't tell if Lost is gimmicky or not from what I've heard, but we'll see.

Anonymous said...

Lost is the kind of show that kept its oddity going and that is not such a bad thing. Predictability of plot is a weakness that most dramas seem to contract with ease. is currently streaming the last season, btw.

brokennarcissist said...

Lost’s impact was that it legitimized the formula of comic book writing by showing that it can translate seamlessly to its sister serialized medium, television. Constantly dropping Easter eggs throughout the story and hatch those that you than can along the way and let the fan boys obsess over those that are left in the nest, lean heavily on the pivot of the final page twist/unreveal and make continuity of the narrative increasingly beyond resolution. I appreciate that Lost gave me a reference point for those that uncritically dismiss the medium as unfashionable.

B.R. said...

Right, brokennarcisst. I concur. TV is not to be dismissed simply because it is, well, TV.