Lost, oh how I love thee! Did you see last week’s episode? Wow, what a perfect example of why this show is the best thing on TV. Lost is actually the only reason I subscribe to a television service (I can’t get broadcast reception where I live.) I hadn’t paid for cable or bothered watching anything but movies for ages until one day a few years ago I rented and watched the first season of Lost. Hook, line and sinker. Gulp. Three years later it’s still reeling me in.
One of my favorite things about it is that it represents a return to what had almost become a lost art: mise en scene. For those that didn’t go to film school that’s the term for the way the information within the frame conveys the story. Hitchcock and Welles were masters of this. Everything you see in the frame of a Hitchcock film is there for a reason. The stuffed bird on the wall, the medicine bottle on the nightstand, the dog barking in the background, it’s not random, it presents information about the story, the character, the scene. Modern cinema has largely lost this discipline. Lost has found it. The article on the newspaper is a clue. The reporter on the TV in the background is telling us something. The advertisement on that bus that just passed? It was an anagram. The show is brilliant and I can’t imagine what a blast it must be to write for it.
Another thing that keeps me in love with it is that it dares to present philosophy on primetime TV and makes it intoxicating. Hume, Locke, Rousseau: for a lot of people these names don’t mean anything, but for those that recognize them, it’s magnificent. Faith vs. Science. Fate vs. Freewill. John Locke vs. Jack Shepard. This is great stuff and what’s best is that it’s done without muddying up the story. Character and Story are king here, not philosophy and agenda. So even if you don’t care a whit for the deeper issues, at least you won’t notice them getting in the way while you enjoy the ride.
One last reason why everyone should watch Lost: Characters. The creators have never lost sight of the fact that without flawed, believable characters, the story doesn’t matter. There is a character here for everyone to love and everyone to hate, and the genius of it is that those characters are different for each viewer. Some people love Sawyer and hate Jack. Some hate Locke and love Jack. Some even loved Charlie (I did) while everyone loves to hate Ben. And Desmond, come on brotha, who couldn’t love Desmond! The call to Penny last week made me whimper and sniffle like a housewife with a Harlequin.
So if you haven’t gotten on board the plane yet, do so.And for heaven’s sake, don’t start watching in the middle, you must, must, MUST begin with season one: episode one and watch it in order from the beginning.If you don’t, you’ll be confused, bored, and utterly and completely…lost.
Yes, I know that was lame.
Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.