Monday, March 05, 2007

Television shows you can stop watching: "Lost"

This is the start of a new feature on Escargo-go: Television series that I’ve given up on. The first is not a big surprise, but it’s a special disappointment because I resisted it for months, then discovered to my surprise that it lived up to the hype. For a while, anyway. Lost. The obvious comparison to this tale of plane-crash survivors stranded on an apparently uncharted isle is to Gilligan’s Island, but this show is closer to M*A*S*H in its vulgar refusal to accept the passage of time. M*A*S*H took 11 seasons to tell the story of a war that lasted three years, and Lost is progressing at the rate of a few weeks per season. In its swings between cheap sentimentality and ponderous philosophical debate, and its seeming obliviousness to the possibility of the audience moving on, it’s starting to resemble a collaboration between Norma Desmond and Fidel Castro. Inevitably, Lost will also take after M*A*S*H in a disappointing and anti-climactic finale. (ABC’s threats to keep the show on the air even after its creators leave ensures that it will continue past the point of anyone caring about it. And watch for the theme of inevitably disappointing finales to come up again in future installments of “Television Shows You Can Stop Watching.”) And I’m certain that Lost will end with at least one of the characters who bitches the most about being stuck on the island voluntarily choosing to stay there – just as Klinger “ironically” decided to stay in Korea at the end of M*A*S*H. It took me a long time to start watching Lost, but when I finally downloaded the pilot on iTunes, I was hooked. I liked the semi-sci-fi premise, I was intrigued by the characters (especially Locke and Sayid), and I thought the flashback-heavy format was refreshing. Despite the Gilligan-like development of the castaways finding that hatch in the ground, Locke’s obsession with The Button was good for a second season of arresting weirdness. But now we’ve got the Others, the island inhabitants who prolong this series by abducting, imprisoning, and playing pointless games with the original cast. They’re like the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation, but without the character depth. And now I don’t give a damn how anybody got on, or gets off, this island. Next: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

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