A Bit Lost

Like everybody, I have a number of completely pointless skills. For instance, I can move my left eyeball independently of my right. I can’t see much and it’s really quite painful but it does have the additional bonus of either impressing boys or sending them wailing to their mothers. It’s dependent upon age and temperament.
Another skill is my ability to score 173 lines on the original GameBoy version of Tetris. I can bring swift swat based death to flies and other buzzy insects (although I prefer not to on account of being a hippy) and, if the occasion should warrant it, discourse knowledgeably on the development of the Protestant Church in England.

This is not all though. My most useful of my pointless skills, if you can forgive the oxymoron, is an ability to follow the plotlines of films and television shows upon first viewing. It may not sound like much, but I am the only person I know who fully understood the entire plotline of the original Matrix film and was able to explain it to Mammy on the way home.
It upsets me then, that somebody has seen fit to create a television show that I am entirely unable to follow, understand or even manage to remember what has happened in. Thank you very much, creators of Lost.

Lost is a show I would have happily remained ignorant of if it weren’t for Strider. She get into it as soon as it aired and, having requested and received the first half of Season One on DVD, demanded Mammy and I watch it with her. Having watched it, we were then required to have conversations which ran along the lines of “Yes, but what about that Polar Bear, eh?”
As the final season begins, we are still left wondering about that Polar Bear. Well. Strider is. Mammy can barely manage to remember what she watched last night, let alone an American TV drama she watched five years ago.

Happily, Sky One, who are responsible for broadcasting Lost in the UK (I don’t have RTE. I did once but it was so close to brain death it scared me. Judging Amy was Prime Time viewing for crying out loud), devoted an hour to reminding us who everybody in Lost was, what they’d been up to, and getting our heads prepared for the shiny new final season. Rather gratifyingly, between that and the “Previously On Lost” bits of the actual program, we got to watch stupid Juliet being sucked into a hole five times in just over two hours.

I’ve never been a fan of the American TV serial format. I become annoyed by advert breaks kicking in 4 minutes after a program has begun, particularly when many of the adverts were shown immediately preceding the program. I also dislike the mix of standalone episodes and 24 episode story arcs. I’m all for great epic stories, but in any 24 episode series, there are four or five episodes that have nothing to do with anything and which have been written to be filmed as cheaply as possible so the spare funds can be directed towards the season finale. I dislike it immensely.

The second biggest gripe I have with Lost is the nagging feeling that the writers have taken their story and spread it into as many episodes as they could get away with. Rather than sitting down and thinking about pacing and how it relates to plot, they’ve teased the story into a thread so fine, even I am unable to follow or remember any of it. If five series can be comfortably condensed into an hour-minus-advert-breaks minute program by Sky One, one can only suppose that much of what went before probably isn’t important to what will happen after. I’m very grateful for this because my mental prompt card for “Lost: The Plot” reads “Plane Crash. People Live on Beach. Scottish Bloke pushes button in case of Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Annoying Child with Improbable Name leaves Island. Annoying Child with Improbable Name ages 18 years in a series for reasons that have nothing to do with the plot and more to do with lack of foresight on writers’ part when they wrote a child as a major character. Blond Bird even more annoying than Dark Haired bird looks anxious. Repeats. Ooo, look! Jim from Neighbours!” It’s good to know none of what I can’t remember matters.
Were it not for the helpful people at Sky One, I wouldn’t have remembered Jacob and the mysterious bloke in black at all. I’m still struggling to remember what happened to the French woman and her curly haired sprog. I remember them dead but I can’t for the life of me remember why, or whether it’s important.

Also, what is it with all of these “clever” names? Locke, Hume, Faraday… they don’t seem to mean anything. It’s more a way of generating discussion. Good marketing, sure, but a good show doesn’t need such cynical tactics.

The single most annoying thing about Lost though, has to be their portrayal of women. I’m sure that the writers’ believed they were creating feisty women who stood up for themselves. Unfortunately, they then committed the cardinal sin of creating women who are ultimately dependent upon men for their redemption.
If Kate stopped pouting long enough to realise that if couldn’t decide between Jack and Sawyer she probably didn’t really want either of them, she probably would have got much more done. Why does it have to be an either/or choice anyway? Does her brain explode if there isn’t a man who fancies her within 100 metres?
What about Sun? She speaks English, she’s got half a brain, yet she ultimately needs her bloke. It’s dressed up as love and all of that gubbins, but sensible girls remember that a relationship which forces you to compromise who you are is not a relationship you want to be in. Why does a heroine have to “save” a man? Why is it only then that she is “rewarded” with love?
Then there’s Juliet. Clever, educated, brilliant at her job, yet controlled by men. By Ben, by Jack, by Sawyer. Only achieves happiness after ditching the science job for mechanics and shacking up with Sawyer, who is incidentally higher in the Dharma hierarchy than she is despite her years of formal education and hard work. At no point does she tell them all to get bent and take control of her own life.
I suppose we should all just be grateful they haven’t written in any random lesbians to boost viewing figures.

So, with all of these complaints, you could be forgiven for wondering why I am bothering to watch it, particularly when I can’t get through an episode without shouting something abusive at the screen.
There have been 103 episodes in the first five series. Each episode runs at 43 minutes. 4429 minutes of my life have been wasted watching this stupid program which makes no sense. That’s 73 hours. Three days. Three days of my life that I am unable to get back have been invested in this. I have to watch it to the end, otherwise that time really would have been wasted.


thread bear said...

You've only lost 3 days of your life? In my apartment, the few hours following a new episode are filled with "discussion time" between the boyfriend and a few of our friends. Lost Wiki is opened, the promo for next week's episode is analysed on youtube, and the tiniest detail of the episode is examined, compared to "that time in season two when he said the same thing, do you remember that?" "yea, but he used a different tone...", etc.

You're getting off light, missy!

Theo said...

I get all the discussion I can manage during the closing credits. It's usually along the lines of "I want my hour back". I then get distracted by Huw Edward's tie on the BBC 10 o'clock news and that helps me to forget about Lost until next time.

Anonymous said...

I'm in 'til the bitter end too.

In fact, I avoided reading this post in case I found out something I didn't want to know yet. (We're behind because our TV aerial is playing silly buggers).

There had *better* be a satisfactory ending to this show. I will not be pleased with deus ex machina.

Theo said...

I know. I fear there will be a faintly ambiguous ending which will only allow true explanations to be had by reading tie-in books and the like.