Lost: Over Four Hours of My Life

I wasted four-and-a-half hours last night on the interminable swan song of the TV cult program “Lost,” and I’m trying to convince myself that I haven’t wasted an hour a week over the six years of its sporadic seasons.

The first two hours were billed as a retrospective, where we could all brush up on our understanding of the convoluted and confounding plot twists and time travel that had transpired. Instead, we were treated to the acting cast commenting on their experiences which, unfortunately, took on a pseudo-gravitas, as if they had just finished Gone With the Wind and knew it. Lost isn’t M.A.S.H., or even Law and Order. Flash Forward, which has been cancelled, has more of an intelligible plot, and Damages and Mad Men much more compelling characters (and a certain helpful feature called “good writing”). The superb Sopranos, whose ending caused great debate in its ambiguity, was downright fulfilling, specific, and unarguable after Lost got lost.

On top of that, the two producers/writers held sway during the prefatory, saccharine first two hours, giddy with happiness, sharing their self-indulgent, self-congratulatory party with us, apparently without any remorse or regrets that the series concluded on a predictable, boring, and incomplete note.

The first season of Lost was inventive and well acted, with decent writing and a plausible plot. But as the seasons wore on, the plots became conflicting and unbelievable—the best science fiction and fantasy are based on plausibility. The finale last night demonstrated that there was NO story arc, despite the claim the final episode was being considered two years ago. Short of the “it was only a dream” sequence on the grand soap opera Dallas, this was the most pathetically patched together attempt at “explanation” imaginable.
Everyone was dead. Really? I never would have thought of that.

How many deus ex machinas can one cram into one series? Apparently, an island full.

I kept hoping for the best, that the audience’s cult fascination would stimulate the early inventiveness to return. But no one here seemed to become refreshed, despite the exotic location. With the exceptions of Terry O’Quinn (Locke), Naveen Andrews (Sayid), and Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond), the acting was pedestrian, though there wasn’t much that could be done with the mediocre writing and the consistently unrealistic predicaments. (How many times can someone be shot or stabbed, even in a semi-real, half-dead, time-shifting, largely imaginary place?!)
At least women viewers could rejoice in the frighteningly good looking Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and the men in the exquisite Kate (Evangeline Lilly, who may be the most beautiful woman on television).

At the end, Vincent, the dog, lay down next to Jack on the island as Jack lay dying. There was something strange about Vincent’s face. When I rewound the tape and looked more closely, I realized—he was bored to death.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

8 thoughts on “Lost: Over Four Hours of My Life

  1. Just as you have made note of the time dump nature of most internet-related “activities”, I must say I don’t see much different with TV. I have never watched Lost, nor Mad Men, The Sopranos, or most others. People are shocked(!) that I have never seen American Idol. Ever.

    There’s just too much else out there in the world, whether it’s an afternoon at the local coffee shop or pub, a family activity, or even a good book.

    I happened to catch an interesting TED talk recently that proposed the idea that our obsession with TV shows may be affecting our brains and mental abilities; some people may be incapable or uncomfortable with deep thinking or with problems that take more than 20 minutes to solve. Along that line, I have seen and heard comments from people who are amazed at others’ skills, when natural talent often is outclassed by mere practice. They cannot conceive that someone might have actually spent 10,000 hours mastering their craft. But yet so many spend that time (or more) simply becoming masters of their own sofas.

    It will be an interesting next couple of decades.

  2. I’ve been on social media. I KNOW it first-hand. If you’ve never watched Mad Men, how do you know what you may be missing, just as an example? I think you’re playing a zero-sum game, like you can’t both watch a television show and read a book! Most of us can walk and chew gum. Why not trust yourself more?

    Yes, television and fast food and cell phones and Bill Gates are all rotting our brains, and the Loch Ness Monster just drove down Piccadilly Circus.

    Or “even a good book”? I pride myself on being able to handle al that life offers which I find important. If you refuse to watch things without ever trying them, you sound like you’re afraid you may actually like it and don’t want to admit to how much you’ve missed! Sort of like people who tell me that value based pricing would never work.

    Of course, they’ve never tried it….

  3. I read your critique on the final episode of Lost. Watched the first couple of episodes when it first came on, but it wasn’t my kind of show, just couldn’t get into the story line. Have a friend who became hooked and tried relentlessly to get me to watch it, just couldn’t do it. But to your point I at least watched it.

    There are those who say television isn’t good for us and do believe it’s rotting our brains or responsible for the current lack of mores and a host of other sins, but they said that about rock and roll music and evolution. It’s as you said it’s all about our ability to balance and be open minded and demonstrate a willingness to at least try something different. Our willingness to at least try something provides us with the point of measure to know what we like or dislike.

    If we truly want to call ourselves consultants, we shouldn’t close our minds to other possible avenues of thought and be willing to try something different because if weren’t not how are we to convince our clients to change direction if we’re cemented to one point of view?

  4. Exactly. I don’t blame you for not eating shell fish if you have a proven allergy, but not to try lobster because you simply don’t want to experience it, or because it prevents you from having your nightly hamburger, is ridiculous.

  5. I agree that the writing of “LOST” had declined after Season 1. However, I believe that Matthew Fox was also one of the outstanding actors on the series. He had the thankless task of portraying a character who was extremely flawed, despite the television viewers’ demands for him to be perfect or near perfect.

    Evangeline Lilly is a very attractive woman. I will not deny this. But I do not agree with your assessment that she is the best looking female on television right now. She is NOT that beautiful. At least not to me.

  6. Okay, to each her own. Who is more beautiful in your opinion, on a regular TV series? Everyone I know thinks Ms. Lilly is stunning, but happy to hear your nominations.

  7. I don’t have any nominations. There are a lot of beautiful and very attractive men and women on television today. There is nothing outstanding about Evangeline Lilly’s looks. She is a very attractive actress who had the good luck to be on a hit television show.

  8. I am a practicing heterosexual, and I assure you, she is a great beauty, along with the assistant DA on Law and Order.

    My son is an actor, I’ve served on two theater boards, and let me assure you these people work VERY hard at their craft to try to get the big break. You sound slightly resentful, in all candor.

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