Monday, April 11, 2016

861. Good and bad news for fans of Lost and its enduring legacy...

I remain an unabashed fan of Lost, the maddeningly ambitious TV series that ran on ABC from 2004 to 2010.  It's one of my favorite stories from any medium, and true highlight of my experiences to date.  Entertainment Weekly recently released a special magazine detailing its favorites from the past 25 years, and in the TV section it included Lost at seventh out of twenty-five.  I was a regular reader of EW for fifteen years or so, and so know full well that it was as obsessed with Lost as anyone else, possibly even moreso, possibly even using it to shape the course of the magazine's whole future.  Well, maybe, but at long last it seems, after years of joining the trend of backlash that followed the controversial final episode, EW is ready to embrace Lost again.  Here's its write-up:

This exotic survival saga about redemption and community started earthy and existential and finished esoteric and mystic, sparking endless discussion and frustrating some of its fans in the process.  What is inarguable is that its tantalizing, labyrinthine mysteries helped change the way we watch and talk about television.

This is like a breath of fresh air for someone who never stopped loving it.  Finally, the bitter years of disappointment, in which the whole thing looked like it would be whitewashed from history, seem like a memory.  As someone who was astonished to find himself buried in an avalanche of praise for something he was enjoying, and being thoroughly unused to such things, this is reassuring.  But it also suggests that the new praise may also suggest that all the previous love will amount to something, in the future, that will make it harder to rediscover than, say, The Prisoner, something that continually enjoys revivals precisely because it didn't have an ending, or The Fugitive, because its ending defined the whole thing.  What good is a cult following if it completely collapses?

As a fan of Star Trek, I know what it's like to see something you love lay dormant for years.  But the thing that keeps Star Trek coming back is that at its heart, it's relatively simple and durable in new iterations.  What about Lost?  Fans tend to binge-watch things that continue giving them visceral thrills. A lot of people came to Lost because they wanted to know answers, and they kept finding them in strange and unexpected places.  But when they saw where it was all headed, what the last answers would be, they lost interest.  The ending of Lost is the same as its beginning.  At its heart, Lost is an examination of the human condition, far more demanding, and ultimately forgiving, than anything else in this moment has proven to be. 

 But maybe it's too demanding.  Fans saw something flashy, and so came aboard for that.  Do fans of old television really come back for substance?  Absent from EW's list was the cathartic, short-lived Boomtown.  I've never found much interest in reviving interest for that, but it remains a truly treasured memory for me.  Theoretically, it'd be easier to rediscover.  A lot of the key players resurfaced in Justified.  And yet...?

This is the strange place in the cultural ether I always inhabit.  Maybe it explains me.  I don't think I'm a contrarian, but that's what I end up seeming like.  I don't know.  Maybe I just shouldn't worry about it.  Let succeeding generations do that.  I have my memories, right?

5 comments:

Spacerguy said...

Nestor Carbonell auditioned for his part in Bates Motel and got the Sherrifs job. The thing is he didn't quite get the part if you know what I mean, He producers and directors were a little ticked to say the least, seen in the video and the reason? Carbonell wore a "LOST" T-shirt for his trouble and nearly didnt get the job, lol. One of the directors says - is that absolutely neccessary? or words to that effect!

Tony Laplume said...

It was. I mean, he was mayor of Gotham City!

The Armchair Squid said...

I'd love to see that list but can't find it online.

Gotta admit, not a fan of Lost. I enjoyed it in the beginning but at some point, around the time Eko died, it went off the rails. It certainly did wonders door JJ Abrams, though. If anyone has the power to resurrect it, he certainly does.

Pat Dilloway said...

I don't think I ever watched more than 30 seconds of that show. I'm sure at some point they'll do something more with it because everything has to be rebooted these days.

Tony Laplume said...

Squid, that would have been during the third season. A lot of fans left around that time. It felt like the show was spinning its wheels, which is why the creators sped things up in later seasons. I personally love that season, but I can see why it would have been frustrating. I have no idea if EW has any of that special online.

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