Getting Lost

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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.


31 Comments

  1. Paul Burkhalter

    Best. Show. Ever.

    I still vividly remember the first episode I saw: the season 1 finale. Needless to say, I was caught up on all of season 1 before season 2 rolled around.

  2. Alex Green

    Lost has hooked me in a way that no other television show ever could. I completely agree the raw human-ness of the characters put even the worst people close to your heart. The way that every episode is about a character wrestling with something is amazing. Sometimes the make the right desicison (Charlie in the episode with the moth) and sometimes they don’t (alas, Mr. Eko). That struggle is what makes each episode fulfilling, even though the only answers about the plot we recieve are actually bigger questions posing as answers. I am always weirded out seeing these actors and actresses starting to have other roles because they will always be the survivors of Oceanic 815 to me.

  3. Nate

    Great show! I totally agree with Pete. I’ve only just discovered it a few months ago and just caught up last week. What a ride! I love the introduction of one of the new characters – CS Lewis.

    Anyway, I just wanted to add that anyone with a high speed internet connection can watch it in high def (whatever that means) at: http://dynamic.abc.go.com/streaming/landing

  4. Gaines

    Good stuff. We actually caught the pilot episode when it first aired, and we’ve been hooked ever since.

    To add to all the things Pete mentioned, I love the fact that the show has a big story that it is trying to tell. Too many shows keep churning out episodes well past their prime, and you can tell that the writers are just cobbling stuff together as they go. But with Lost, it is readily apparent that a great deal of thought has gone into mapping out the story and (in most cases) how each episode serves the story. This is especially true now that the producers have hammered out a definitive ending to the show. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

  5. bryan a

    yeah, the people who came to the island from the freighter were Miles Strom (Maelstrom), Frank Lapidus, Daniel Faraday, and Charlotte Staples Lewis (C.S. Lewis) — remember that scene a few weeks ago when Ben starts reciting off all of her info, including her full name?

    yeah, this show is a masterpiece. i will sorely miss it when it’s gone, like the ache you feel when saying goodbye to a dear friend.

  6. Loren Eaton

    It shocks people whenever I say it, but my wife and I don’t actually own a TV. However, we keep up with Lost–our one show–by bingeing on an entire season in two weeks’ time when it comes out on DVD.

  7. Zach M

    There are so many biblical references in this show. It’s my favorite show by far. Nothing comes close to the character development, the suspense, the deep-down battle between good and evil (ongoing backgammon game in the show), and how each person is related. This last episode introduced a 4th dimension aspect, which reminds me of how God is outside our timeline. To Him, everything is past, present and future. I could go on and on…

  8. Amy

    I”m watching season two right now, blew through season one in a week. Needless to say, I didn’t really read this psot, but wanted to join in on the LOST love.

  9. Peter B

    Pete, was that an intentional Charlie Brown phoneticism? Because if so… thank you.

    Also, I guess I need to pick up a season or two of this sometime.

  10. sevenmiles

    There a few worldly things I follow with any zeal: Red Sox, Sooners, Apple Computers. There are only two TV shows that come close the same obsession: Arrested Development and the new Battlestar Galactica. I’ve read about Lost again and again. “I don’t have time,” I said. “I’m a husband, stay-at-home dad, worship leader and I simply am too busy for another guilty pleasure.”

    Then Pete makes this tantalizing post and Nate replies with a link to watch it in HD online. I just watched episode one. I had no idea. More please.

    tim

  11. D-Bass

    I agree with you about Lost rekindling the art of “mise en scene.” One episode that left me dumbstruck was towards the end of season one when Michael, Sawyer, Jin and Walt are on the raft and the shark appears. For a split second, as the shark passes for an underwater shot, you can see a DARMA symbol tattooed on its tail fin. My wife and I had to freeze-frame it to really make it out. It’s incredible the amount of detail that those folks put into an episode. Oh J.J. Abrams, you rascal.

  12. Nate

    I haved a question. Is jj abrams still involved with the production? I heard he hadn’t a lot to do with it since midway through the first season. Just curious.

  13. Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    I am unable to read this article until the DVDs are released for the season. Y’all enjoy the discussion. I love the close to instant gratification of watching the an entire season via DVD in less than a week, but the down side is missing the opportunity to participate in discussions such as this. Once I saw the Dharma logo, I diverted my eyes to avoid any hint of information that might tarnish hearing it fresh from the show. I literally put the show out of my mind until the DVDs are released. This kind of process is strange, but probably not all that unusual in the age in which we live. If there has been any good posted about this show, I probably agree whole heartedly. But I won’t know for sure for a long time.

  14. Gaines

    Re: J.J. Abrams – he’s still listed as an executive producer, but Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have been running the show since the second season (or earlier?). According to IMDB, Abrams co-wrote the season three opener, but that seems to be the last direct involvement he’s had in making episodes of the show.

  15. ThatRobert

    I watched and mostly enjoyed Season 1 of Lost. Early in Season 2 I started to get that “Twin Peaks” feeling — the feeling that the show will never resolve any threads, only start new ones. It just wasn’t satisfying enough. Same thing happened with Heroes Season 2 now…

  16. ThatRobert

    Pete, have they publicly said they are working toward some definite end? I’m sure Abrams’ “Alias” had good intentions as well and it did “end” — it just wasn’t very satisfying.

  17. Tony Heringer

    Ah, Lost, I knew a lot of people congregating in the virtual “The Rabbit Room” would be into this show. It has all the elements covered here — art, music, philosophy, and a story line that is the television equivalent of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of The Rings.” For those not quite sure they are up for a full episode, check out this clip from Season 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq4Dsv7EdyQ. I love this song!

    My daughter loves Charlie. My son enjoys Hurley and likes Charlie because he’s a budding musician himself. My wife is smitten with bad boy Sawyer (who is from our neck of the woods up here in north Atlanta). My guy is Jack Shephard, but I also enjoy Desmond’s character. We love to hate Ben – what a perfect bad guy or is he really the good guy? As I’ve told my kids many times, these folks are “lost” in more ways than one.

    As to the names, wow, I’d missed C.S. Lewis too. Lewis referred to himself as – you guessed it – “Jack.” Not named “Shepherd” (vs. Shephard) as that would have been too obvious 🙂 Especially since Jack is cast as a physician and in the openning of Season 2 is confronted by Desmond about belief (The episode is entitled “Man of Science, Man of Faith” – Jack vs. Locke or Jack vs. Jack?). Henry Ian Cusick who plays Desmond also played Jesus Christ in The Gospel of John. Jack, in this same episode, witnesses (performs?) a miracle. Jack’s father? His name is Christian Shephard (didn’t know that ’till I looked it up just now).

    I avoided Season 1, just couldn’t get past the ABC hype of the show and we were already being sucked into American Idol. However, what hooked me was the “Dave” episode in Season 2. I saw that and went “What?!!!!”

    I went straight to Blockbuster and rented Season 1 – if you can stand it, the best way to watch this show is a season(s) at a time on DVD (or your digital media of choice) but be careful, my wife and I were up to the wee hours one night because we couldn’t stop watching it. “Oh, just one more episode” – three hours later we finally crawled to bed.

    This show has been a great one and we will own the complete set of DVDs. I did not watch Alias, but I’ve talked to others about Abrams failure to bring that show to a satisfying conclusion. That could happen here too, but even if it does, what a great ride!

    A concluding question was the “Dave” episode in the past or the future? Discussion on this point won’t spoil it for anyone interested in the series, trust me, the plot lines run all over the place on this show.

  18. Gaines

    About the end of Lost — After Season 3, the producers signed a deal with ABC to end the show after 48 more episodes airing over 3 seasons. So Season Six will be the last season. Alias was different, because the final season was already underway when the network decided it would be the final season.

  19. Brian Baute

    I second the recommendation for LOST, which I think is clearly the deepest and most thought-provoking show currently on broadcast TV. I also think it’s the best, but that’s my opinion.

    Take all the good things about LOST and make them better, though, and you get The Wire, which recently ended its run after 5 seasons on HBO. If you’re not familiar with The Wire, it’s a true-to-life look at life in downtown Baltimore. Season 1 looks primarily at the streets and drug trade, Season 2 looks at the harbor and dockworkers, Season 3 looks at politics amid a mayoral race, Season 3 looks at education in an inner city middle school, and Season 5 looks at the newspaper business at the Baltimore Sun. The language is raw and the action often intense, which is necessary given the topic, but it’s not gratuitous just for shock value. The characters are masterful, even better than the character development on LOST. The story threads are woven throughout the story, and the threads are resolved in often brilliant manners. I think it’s the best show ever made, hands down, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is, however, clearly for adult audiences only.

  20. becky

    I’m also hooked on the “pop-up” version of last week’s episode that they are running just before the new episode each week, because it points out some of the many references to people, books, movies, etc., etc. I can’t begin to pick up everything otherwise.

    For instance, the actor who played Kate’s lawyer a couple of weeks ago was also in the movie “Frequency” (about a man who is supernaturally able to talk to his father, in the past, over his ham radio). The actor played a serial killer whose name was Jack Shephard.

    The intricacy of this show is mind boggling. I have to wonder what kind of brains the writers have that can contain all of this information, work it all into the show, and keep track of where every little thread is headed. Unbelievable.

  21. Evie Coates

    @eviecoates

    If I have a daughter, Dharma is in the running for her name. It’s neck-and-neck with my grandmother’s name, so this is how serious I am about LOST. Did we LOVE the “Other Woman” episode on Juliet’s past last week??? Staggering! “He thinks I’m his. These people are waging war on Ben, and he’s going to win. And when he does, you don’t want to be anywhere near me.” I was left with my mouth agape. And I thought that Ben’s half-lit ham-carving scene was particularly eerie. “Hope you like dinner rolls…” And I just have to say, the kiss between Jack and Juliet was just about as lame as they come. Some may call it tender, but no, it was void of feeling and absolutely unconvincing. Come on Jack, you can do better.

    I could go on, but then I wouldn’t be able to stop, and it is the middle of the workday. Looking forward (almost pathetically so) to tomorrow night’s continuation of the twists and turns and freakish parallels. C’est si bon, si bon.

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