June 2, 2010

Lost in 30 Days: Part I

A quick introduction: My name is BC Smith. I run a movie-news twitter feed and a business blog. When I first met TPG, he was babbling on about some fabled Nicholas Cage Action Trilogy, and I knew we'd hit it off right away. I quickly proceeded to make fun of his obsession with "his little island show." Now it's time for me to eat my words. A little over a month ago, I started watching Lost, and a little over a week ago, I finished watching it. Tim was kind enough to allow me to do this guest post chronicling my epic experience. What follows is Part 1 of 2. Enjoy.


There are about 720 hours in a month. There are about 120 hours of Lost. To watch the entire series in a month would mean dedicating over one-seventh of your time to the show. It also stands to reason that, were one to sleep roughly half that time, one-third of all waking hours would have to be dedicated solely to watching Lost, if such a feat were to be achieved.

I achieved such a feat. And this is my story.

I know plenty of people started watching the show a little late in the game, only to catch up in a series of epic, marathon sessions. But I'd like to consider my task a particularly mammoth one. At first, it was surprisingly easy. I remember thinking, “If all of the episodes are even half as good as the first season, this will be no problem.”

Of course, they weren't all that good. By seasons three and four, watching Lost became a chore. A tedious, excruciating chore. The questions were mounting, the answers less and less forthcoming. Ben Linus was getting more and more irritating, if not creepier. The characters' subplots were getting less and less compelling.

And, let's be honest- Lost left us with no shortage of terrible subplots. (Charlie sleep-stealing Claire's baby? Just about everything to do with Claire's baby?) But like all shit-storms, the worst soon passed, and I was reminded—time and again—just why I was watching this show.

Every Man For Himself

Watching all of Lost before the finale was an undertaking me and my roommates all took on simultaneously. The only problem was we all had wildly different schedules, which meant we were all watching the show on our own. Soon enough, some of my roommates were seasons ahead of me, some seasons behind me. This resulted in a lot of isolation. I literally had to walk around the house with headphones on for a good couple weeks, doing everything I could not to look at the TV. Many meals were cooked with music blaring directly into my ears, then eaten alone in my bedroom, with Lost streaming directly into my frontal lobe. I explained the situation to my cousin, a rocket scientist and avid Lost fan, and he thought it was hilarious.

“Don't you see the parallel?" he said. "You're four people occupying the same space, but you're all temporally disconnected and alienated from one another. It's just like Lost."

It took me a few seasons of catching up to understand what he meant, though, to be honest, I'm still not sure I completely understand the analogy.

If You Like Confusing Time Travel Movies...

To me, Lost was at its best when our characters were dislodged in time, hopping blindly from era to era, with only the occasional signpost marking the way-- a rogue atom bomb here, a four toed statue there, an improvised birth in the bushes over there, etc. Everyone I talked to had told me to brace myself for the fifth season. The fifth season, they said, was when Lost started getting really crazy. But to me, it's when the show regained its footing. No longer were the producers trying to milk five episodes of characters being locked in bear cages. Instead, the show was taking creative risks, and getting just about as complicated as

a show can get while still appealing to a mass audience.

Could I have done without Faraday's constant whispering? Sure. Did they say, "When are we?" one too many times? You betcha. But, damn it, I like confusing time travel stuff. (A Google Video search for "Confusing Time Travel" yields this Lost clip as the top result. Little asides like this on the nature of time travel--provided solely for the slower audience members--bugged me, I'll be honest. But then again, I'm a rocket scientist's cousin. I'm brilliant.) Maybe I'm biased towards time-travel malarkey. Hell, I even liked the Butterfly Effect, despite, you know, it's problems.

But I like to note that the first four seasons of Lost were all supposed to have taken place in a matter of months, while Season Five alone spanned three years. It was a much needed jump-start to the show, but it also brings us to one of Lost's biggest problems: Pacing.

When the show first started, they built up the mythology slowly, steadily. But pretty soon it seemed there was too much time and not enough story. The show crawled. When the freighter arrived at the end of the third season, I never would have imagined that they would drag that silliness out for another entire season. But they did. Then, with the end-date only a couple of years away, the show started blitzing through the story, sprinting at break-neck pace to the finish. For me, it was this highly uneven pacing that most detracted from Lost feeling like a cohesive, unified saga.

Go to Part II of "Lost in 30 Days."

Join me tomorrow as I wrap up my Lost experience. Thanks for reading, and thanks to TPG for letting me rant on his most excellent blog. Oh yeah, and follow me, @35mmofheaven, on Twitter.

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