Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lost is coming - who cares?

It will not be long before Lost returns to ABC for an unbroken string of new episodes. Why don't I feel more excitement? I can think of two reasons.

1) The season so far. Of the six episodes shown so far, most featured Jack, Kate, and Sawyer to the exclusion of the rest of the cast. For a show with a huge ensemble cast, this is a bad thing. They could have off-set it by telling us more about the Others. They didn't. We now know some names and faces, we know that they have some sort of contact with the outside world but they seem to be stuck on the island. We learned this in the first episode. Reportedly, ABC executives are also upset about the way the first six episodes were handled.

2) The format. This is a much bigger problem. The format of the show is to have split plots - one on the island and one told through flashbacks. This was a great gimic during the first season. we had no idea who these people were and many were surprises. The scary guy with the suitcase full of knives who killed wild boars turned out to have been a paraplegic who only dreamed of adventure. The laid-back, fat guy was a cursed millionaire who had spent time in a mental institution. The Korean couple had their own issues.

By now we have had flashbacks for all of the principal characters. In most cases we have had multiple flashbacks. They are no longer telling us who the characters are. They might fill in some gaps but they don't serve any other purpose. We already knew that Jack was obsessive and had a bad relationship with his father. His flashback just told us that again. We knew that Sawyer was a con man, we didn't need to see him do another con.

The flashbacks are growing stale. Unless they start giving us some interesting flashbacks on the Others I don't see them getting much better. Granted they did slip a couple of new castaways into the cast and they will get their own flashbacks eventually but will this be enough to keep the show interesting?

The producers need to move away from the flashbacks. More is happening in the "present" (now more than two years ago). They need to spend more energy telling us about the island and less repeating stories about the characters' past.

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