Tuesday, August 24, 2010


The Score: 9 out of 10

Few TV programs have the ambition and resources of ABC-Disney's LOST (2004-10), and with the recent changes in the way Network TV is structured we might not see another series of this epic magnitude for a long time to come. LOST dared to dream big and it pulled in millions of devoted fans because of those dreams. And since the sixth and final season of LOST is being released today on Blu-Ray and DVD, we will take this opportunity to look back on the series as a whole with some perspective.

LOST Begins with a Plane Crash Over a Mysterious Pacific Island
Over the course of 114 episodes, spanning 80 hours in total length, we survived the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, attempted to contact the outside world for a rescue, foraged for food, caught fish, hunted boar, searched for sources of fresh water, tracked down dangerous predators, fought off hostile invaders, and traveled beyond the limits of rational scientific explanation as we slowly unraveled the secrets of an island, the existence of which seems shrouded in ancient myth.
LOST Features the Best Cast on Television
J.J. Abrams gathers together one of the strongest multi-national ensemble casts ever assembled, who in turn portray some of the most interesting and best-developed characters on television. Even when the show's narrative spirals out of control with plot convolutions, unanticipated shifts in genre, while failing to provide even basic answers to the fundamental questions driving the series' story, LOST still remains one of the most watchable programs on network television. Why? The cast.
Hurley, Sawyer, and Kate
Regardless of the twists, turns, and swiss cheese plot, the series regulars always carried us successfully through it. LOST's focus on bringing each character compellingly to life is admirable. For the most part, the series regulars are well written, strong, with consistent personalities, and possessing relateable motivations. And the characters often compensate for the gaps in storytelling plaguing LOST's later seasons.
John Locke's Flashbacks Synchronized
If asked to characterize the series LOST (2004-10), we would probably classify it as an action series crossed with an intimate character drama. Although 80 hours in total length, LOST often comes across as an extended film experience. When the series first began, TV viewers were shocked by the quality of writing and the staggering production values. Audiences felt like they had been transported to a strange new world.
LOST Synchronized Character Introductions
Although J.J. Abrams created successful TV shows in the past, such as the angst-filled Felicity (1998-2002) and the the dazzling spy thriller Alias (2001-06), he stepped up his game for LOST (2004-10). His former TV shows were entertaining incubators where the style of LOST would eventually hatch. With each step along the way, J.J. Abrams would take his character dramas to new fantastical extremes until he discovered his sweet spot with LOST. The clip below synchronizes several clips over the run of the series illustrating different perspectives of the plane crash that begins the story.
Plane Crash Flashbacks Synchronized
Television could not hold on to J.J. Abrams forever and he followed the siren call of Hollywood by taking the reins of some powerful film franchises. Abrams quickly abandoned his show-running responsibilities on ALIAS and LOST to pursue other projects and eventually direct Mission Impossible III (2006) and Star Trek (2009). Unfortunately, both ALIAS and LOST suffered as a result of Abrams's departure from the shows and their characters' journeys began taking second place to increasingly absurd plot twists.
J.J. Abrams Reimagines the Original Star Trek in One of Last Year's Most Entertaining Films
Alias and LOST had powerful first seasons, very strong second seasons, and all but jumped the shark in their third seasons. LOST would fare slightly better in the long term, but Alias was worse for the wear and failed to recover in its fourth and fifth seasons. If you remember the asinine "Rambaldi Zombie-Making Device," then you should recall how low the show eventually sank. But LOST managed regain some of their equilibrium to recapture a measure of its former dignity. And although never recovering its first season glory, LOST did remain one of the best shows on television throughout its broadcast. But unfortunately, those earlier questionable patches of quality prompted millions of viewers to change the channel.
LOST's New Show-Runners Almost Singlehandedly Changed the Phrase from
"Jumped the Shark" to "Polar-Bear-Caged the Cast"
Fans of the show still speculate how Alias and LOST would have turned out under more attentive supervision of J.J. Abrams. But even without his departure, it is clear the series was already getting inundated under the weight of its own plot complexities and was already heading toward a critical mass of audience apathy. To their credit, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof did eventually get LOST back on track and steered the show toward a greatness rarely seen on network television. The best TV series of all time, Twin Peaks (1990-91), is really the only show even comparable to LOST, which should clue you in on their ambitions and frequently brilliant writing. LOST's creators have notably mentioned Twin Peaks and the Watchmen graphic novel as strong influences on the first and subsequent seasons.
Kate Austen and Jack Shephard Develop a Parental Bond While Protecting the Plane Crash Survivors
So with the recent ending of the LOST's broadcast, much ado has been made of its myriad unresolved plot threads. And from the purely story-driven side of our brains, we have to agree with LOST's detractors that its story is centered on mysteries that essentially go unanswered throughout the entire series. Sure, some answers are discovered along the way, and a few more are crammed in at the end of the series, but many bizarre happenings on the show are never addressed. Perhaps hyper-dedicated viewers can piece together most important story puzzle pieces together coherently, but it requires a lot of initiative of those viewers with very strong imaginations since the show will not piece it together for you.
Even the Resident Genius Physicist Daniel Faraday is Constantly in the Dark
About What is Happening or Why
LOST depends almost completely on the audience to fill in the gaps of its own incomplete storytelling. Is this really the best approach to television? No, probably not. But does this form of ambiguous and confusing storytelling inspire interesting conversations and force the audience to think through everything they have seen on the show with both hemispheres of their brains? Yes, it does.
John Locke Explains the Show's Central Conflict Between Darkness and Light
Many of these complaints could be applied to the recent film Inception (2010), but unlike Inception, LOST develops its characters to the nth degree. A very large number of characters in LOST are developed with intricate back stories that reveal their motivations and personalities throughout the series. The same cannot be said for Inception, the characters from which are mostly ciphers. So at times LOST might be as confusing as Inception in terms of story, but because of its superior character the series never feels quite as random or disengaging as Inception can be sometimes.
LOST Trailer Inception-ized
Without the development of fundamental character underpinnings, Inception (2010) on occasion feels too much like we going through the motions of the plot while missing out on the more interesting story of who all these characters are and why they are doing the bizarre things they do. This is one reason why, in spite of their similarities, we feel LOST is a superior viewing experience to Inception.
Sayid and Desmond Deal with More Mind-Bending Scenarios than Anything Encountered in Inception
Inception (2010) is a great film, but might not be everyone's cup of tea. LOST, on the other hand, seems a little more universal and we imagine almost anyone would enjoy the series if given the right introduction to it. LOST has something for everyone, transitioning from survival epic and character drama to humorous fantasy and science fiction, eventually evolving into an ever-shifting hybrid of these genres.
The Synergy of Mixing Disparate Genres
Rather than this mixture of genres resulting in a complete mess, as surely it would be in the hands of lesser storytellers, LOST successfully transcends into a melting pot of pop culture. Also Michael Giaccino's Emmy-winning score for the series shifts from eerie to heroic, climaxes with symphony-like grandiloquence in essentially spiritual moments of awe, but can then seamlessly transition into pop music montages without skipping a beat. LOST's soundtrack is really a microcosm of the series itself, and is one of the vital elements of the show's success.
Composer Michael Giaccino Won an Emmy for His Work on the Series
and Won an Oscar for the Score of Pixar's Animated Classic Up (2009)
Yet despite the power and variety of its soundtrack, LOST's sound design remains startlingly consistent and provides the show with a strangely beautiful atmosphere missing on other TV series that attempt to mimic LOST's unique winning formula. And if you take a moment to analyze the cast and extended guest cast of LOST, you will find yourself reading a Who's Who of pop entertainment from the past three decades.
'Mery' from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is Interrogated in this Memorable Underwater Scene
But in spite of our glowing praise, at the end of the day most potential viewers will ask only one reasonable question: "Is LOST good enough to devote a full 80 hours of my life to watch it from beginning to end?" Our answer: "Find out for yourself. Watch the pilot episode for free on Hulu or Netflix Instant Watching. If you enjoy it, then chances are you will enjoy the series. LOST is an amazing experience that you should not miss."
Yes, LOST is Worth 80 Hours of Your Viewing Time, and More
Many potential viewers are at first intimidated by its labyrinthine plot or balk at the commitment of time involved in watching the series and decide not to watch even a single episode. This would be a mistake since even if you only watched two episodes each week, the equivalent of a brief feature film, then you should have completed the entire series in just over a year's time. But just like a good book you do not want to put down after beginning it, you will likely want to finish all of LOST as quickly as you can once you begin watching it. Now the series is on home video, you can expect yourself watching large blocks of episodes together when you can squeeze in the time.
"I have to know what happens next..."
--You Soon
In spite of LOST's strong appeal to fans of the fantasy and science fiction genres, you do not need any background in them to fall in love with LOST. It is one of the few TV series able to draw in loyal viewers from every walk of life, age group, ethnicity, and level of education. If you thirst for refreshingly original entertainment, then LOST is a deep wellspring providing more than we expect from a show.
Fan-Made Introductory Promo for LOST
The video clip above gives a brief glimpse of LOST's compelling story and action sequences. And while LOST does feature some of the best action sequences found on television, they are simply icing on the cake. Many are drawn to LOST for its strong and realistic action, but stay for the characters they grow to love. The following clip contains two powerful scenes from the first and second season of LOST. Although these scenes are better when viewed in their context, they are still sufficiently profound as is and will hopefully help convince any of you who are still sitting on the fence.
Poignant Scenes from Seasons 1 and 2
The best way to view LOST is by gathering your friends and family and watch it together. It feels like a community event more than almost any other series. Its stories focus on how we should better appreciate our loved ones in the brief time we have in life. As you watch together, you will find yourself bonding in unique ways. And I personally have had many significant discussions with my family after watching an episode and discussing it with them afterward. LOST is uncanny at providing moments of familial catharsis, perhaps even catalyzing some healing from old wounds we carry from those we are closest to in this life.
LOST Revolves Around Family Problems, Particularly Between Fathers and Sons
Lucky newcomers to LOST have an advantage in not needing to wait weeks or months between episodes. You will never have to feel the same level of frustration that the broadcast audience felt between episodes and seasons, since you now have the entire series at your fingertips. You can watch the show as quickly or as slowly as you want. You are also lucky because the initial viewing of LOST is even more wonderful and strange than its subsequent viewings.
Watching LOST is Like Reading a Great Book. You Will Do It Over and Over Again,
But There is Something Particularly Special About Experiencing it the First Time
Some people enjoy looking up spoilers for movies and TV shows because they do not want to waste their time investing their time and energy when it is not worth it. It is our experience that these same people tend to avoid spoilers for LOST, preferring to discover the series for themselves on Blu-Ray or DVD without any preconceived notions. The point of LOST is the journey, not the destination.
Christian and Jack Shephard's Father/Son Relationship Plays a Pivotal Role in the Series
If our criticisms of the series and its infrequent lackluster moments are scaring you at all, just remember that LOST's plot actually holds together remarkably well under scrutiny. Although Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse make frequent continuity errors throughout the story, they also do an admirable job of weaving together the seemingly disconnected story threads into an amazing interconnected pattern.
John Locke's Journey From Faith to Doubt to Faith Again Forms at the Show's Center
The bottom line: LOST is about as good as TV ever gets. If you are still hesitant, then watch the two-part pilot directed by J.J. Abrams. You can find it on Hulu and Netflix Streaming Video. If the pilot does not win you over, then feel free to take a pass for now. But you should not deny yourself the joy of this series forever. Watching LOST feels like mythical journey into the heart of human existence. You will survive with, fight against, and search for the answers to life alongside one of the best groups of characters you will ever find on television. Amid the plethora of disposable sitcoms, boring dramas, and badly scripted "reality" shows, LOST is a rare treasure that we encourage you to discover sooner than later.
LOST Series Finale Promo
Fun Fan-Made Send Off to LOST
LOST features some of the most beautiful cinematography you will see and is spectacular on Blu-Ray. 1080p High Definition is really the only way to watch this show, so if at all possible, do not accept anything less than the Blu-Rays. Some of the show's visual effects vacillate between perfect and occasionally mediocre, but you will be hard pressed to find better action scenes on TV. And although the writers do drop the ball in the third and sixth seasons of the show, LOST maintains its dramatic integrity throughout nearly all its run, and we consider it one of the all-time best achievements in television.
LOST Answers Song Parody

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