Monday, August 15, 2016

Happy Lost Day!

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It's Lost day!!!!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you might be thinking, "what does that mean?" and if you know what it means, you might be thinking "seriously John-didn't we just go through this months ago for absolutely no legitimate reason other than you wanted to talk about your favorite show of all-time?"

To the former group, what I mean by Lost day is that today is one of the sequences of numbers associated with the show Lost and therefore a day to celebrate (or in most cases, a date to worry about being cursed as the numbers are no good).  4 8 15 16 23 42 are deeply prevalent throughout the series Lost, and while I won't get into exactly where they all factor in, they do quite a lot.  Today is 8/15, and even better, it's 8/15/16, so I cannot let this most momentous of days pass by without devoting some time to my favorite show.  And for the second group-I can write about Lost if I want to write about Lost-we'll get back into Trump's campaign manager secretly getting money from the Russians a different day, okay?

I actually covered a lot of ground with Lost Week when I did it earlier this year (Link Right Here!), so you might be thinking that I don't have a lot of things to say about the subject, but that's where you would be wrong, because I always have a lot to talk about Lost.  Seriously-I think I could go on and on about this show in the same way I do politics and movies, but in those cases people actually want to hear about them (or, you know, they don't and I just have to pretend), but with Lost it's a niche show that most people have given up on in the years since.  For this day, I figured I would try and talk about something I didn't have time to get to with Lost Week and to discuss what Lost means to me personally.  I also am just putting this out into the universe, but I think I'm going to be doing 4/8 and 8/15 as my national permission days going forward to write articles about Lost as much as my heart desires, and if you haven't watched the show-what the hell are you waiting for?!?

I think the thing, for me, that I have to remember when wondering about Lost and why it stuck out to me even more than shows like Mad Men, Desperate Housewives, and Gilmore Girls (all of which have a special place in my admittedly TV fickle heart) is to understand why I love film more than television.

The reality is that television, for me, is generally pretty boring since it's so repetitive.  This isn't to say that I don't love television-I do, and there are shows (like the three I mentioned in the last paragraph-let's keep up), that I am willing to proudly display next to my movies, both literally and figuratively.  Television is constantly on in my apartment, though that can occasionally be a symptom of me watching not a TV series but (more often) a movie or a tennis tournament.  I like the noise of television, and once I latch onto a show, I generally latch on tight even when the quality of the show has waned significantly and it's more of a habitual and spiteful watch than anything else (explore this blog for very long and you'll find some Glee recaps to prove that).

Movies are finite pieces of information, ones that clearly had a goal in mind when they started, and are complete stories.  They are generally not dependent on the real world to shape the story for them.  When an actor or a writer signs up for a movie, they are making that entire film, and not just a season or several seasons of the show.  So often on television, we are faced with the realities of life.  A network decides to add a new star in the hopes of shoring up ratings or a longtime cast member quits to pursue greener pastures or are fired for some reason that the tabloids debate for weeks.  I look at a show like Grey's Anatomy, and realize that the hopes of so many of the fans have long since been extinguished-the happy endingsare gone from reality because certain cast members left.  It's hard to be emotionally invested in such a show because we know that the ultimate goals of the series aren't being achieved.

This doesn't just happen when it comes to cast departures, but also from the opposite end of the spectrum-the network saying they need to stretch out the story to keep the cash revenue going.  How much better would How I Met Your Mother have been if they'd ended it at seven seasons rather than ten?  The selfish aspect of this, the person that wanted to keep going with this crew that I loved (save Barney, who was increasingly obnoxious as the series went on) would have said forever, but the final few seasons were just a series of Robin/Ted/Barney triangles and the finale was relatively disappointing even for those of us who saw it coming.  The same could be said for series like Friends or Gilmore Girls, who had lackluster final seasons that left a bitter taste in your mouth, primarily because we knew where the series should have ended years earlier.  Series frequently tie together things that shouldn't have been together-things that don't feel like a natural conclusion (really-Samantha Jones decides to stay with her younger model boyfriend rather than embracing her single least until they're on the big screen-blasphemy!), just because of time constraints.  Movies don't have this problem-movies, provided they don't go into some ridiculous split ending Hunger Games territory, are actually finite and rarely do we see the strains of the universe and we get the ending the writers began with unless that film is Blade Runner.

(Spoilers for the Series Lost Ahead) This is what made Lost so special in my mind.  Lots of people may quibble with me, but taken as a whole, Lost is about as good of a storytelling experiment as one six season show can get.  The plot rarely repeated storylines, and even ones that were used more than once went in for higher and higher stakes (the Sawyer/Kate/Jack love triangle, John vs. Jack in their battle of science/faith).  The show always felt relatively essential, as well.  The story may have suspended belief on occasion (particularly the time-traveling fifth season), but it felt concrete as a show.  It was something that feels organic revisiting it-there are few seams in the lining.  Watching a season turn into the next season upon revisiting the series there are relatively few plot holes left behind.  Honestly, while you can quibble about the mysteries, and I have, for the most part there are solutions or near-solutions for almost every single question on the show, and the biggest questions (what is the meaning of life?) are too big for even a show as good as Lost to answer.

There were, of course, some of the issues symptomatic to television on display in the series.  We had at least a couple of actors (Cynthia Watros, Michelle Rodriguez, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje come to mind) that left likely due to outside circumstances, while the writer's strike cost us a few more in-depth looks at the Kahana (probably a Charlotte or Miles-centric story that would have aired that year that I am forever wishing I'd received), but by-and-large the show didn't lose much with these real-world issues, and kept telling the story they meant to tell.  As a result, Lost, more than any other show (though The Leftovers and to a lesser degree Game of Thrones may come close) was the best of both worlds-taking the finest attributes of both film and television and putting it into the same place.  While I have loved other shows, no other series has ever made me love it the way that I love my favorite movies.

Honestly, Lost is still the most special thing in my world, and the most hallowed of ground.  I can talk about movies or politics or tennis or Broadway until you literally begging for a topic change, but you  bring up Lost and suddenly I become quiet, as if holy territory has been reached.  Recently I discovered the Lost novels and it was like I'd died and gone to heaven-seeing stories about Shannon or Charlie or Kate, getting into the minds of new characters and discovering little tidbits (finding how John Locke discovered the backgammon table-literally, I cannot) was magical.  Everything about this series is magical.  I will happily entertain ideas and theories, but never really complaints unless they're constructive.  The people who said they wasted their lives when the show ended-I can't deal with them, and basically find that unforgivable.  You watched a different, very cinematic, journey than I did.  So those of you out there who are still pushing the button, who still want to go back, who want more round on the golf course, Happy Lost Day!

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