Aloha to LOST: A TV Rarity
I confess to watching more TV than I should. Really, aside from social media, there is no bigger distraction from writing than television. And most of the shows, especially the dramas, are master classes in what not to do as a novel writer. That's because television shows are generally plot-driven derivative nonsense. Even many of the "good" ones. Being a fan of any television show almost demands a certain admittance that we're eating highly processed junkfood, but that's okay I guess if you don't let it get out of hand. And if you're wondering why I'm saying this, it's because I believe when it comes to TV, a character's actions are guided purely by "the formula." For instance, you can't ever just have a male and female lead hook up, even if they clearly like each other and nothing should logically be standing in the way, because that would "ruin" it. Ruin what, exactly? Why, "the formula," of course. And of course the villain can never be caught too soon, no matter how stupid he or she might be, because that would essentially end the show after one or two episodes. So you have to insert all of this fakery conflict to draw things out.
LOST, though, was better than that. Oh sure, there were some formulaic moments, and there were times when I thought a couple of the characters had fallen victim to the old Idiot Plot Device one too many times (namely Jack and Kate), but even those weakness were so deftly woven into the beautiful tapestry of story, theme, and myth that one hardly noticed it. There were so many little facets of detail, puzzles to solve, and connections between characters to make that there will undoubtedly be more questions about it long after tonight's series finale. That's not only the hallmark of good television, but also great writing, and it's why when I see J.J. Abrams' name attached to something, I'm always willing to give it a closer look.
I've been watching the show since its pilot and was enamored with it from the moment John Locke stood up on his previously-paralyzed legs and gazed at the burning plane wreckage strewn on that beach around him. We knew right then that something was happening that was beyond the scope of reality. Then came all of the intriguing and poignant back stories of the passengers. Each character was compelling in his or her own ways. No one was as he or she appeared, and it was hard not to even sympathize with the "bad guys." Almost every episode felt like a completely different show depending on whom it was focused, which made it an inventive way to keep things fresh and exciting.
This was back in 2004, during the "black" period of my life (and I mean that only in the creative sense -- I hadn't written anything more complex than a grocery list in 6 years at that point), but I remember that LOST jolted a part of me I thought was dead. I was reminded of the types of stories I wrote as a teenager, where mysterious phenomena would happen and I would try to answer why, and I wondered why in the hell I wasn't doing it anymore. I'm not saying LOST was responsible for my reawakening as a writer -- that wouldn't happen for a few more years. It just reminded me of how powerful really great writing could be, even on television.
Anyway, I know it's just a silly TV show, and I'm supposed to roll my eyes all cynical-like and throw on my Kill Your Television t-shirt like the rest of the "cool" kids and declare how the idiot box is melting our brains, but I'm not gonna. Almost everyone has that baby that they don't want to throw out with the bathwater. LOST was mine for six years.
I can't wait to see how it all shakes down tonight, brotha.
P.S. I just realized that I inadvertently stole my blog title from Jimmy Kimmel's LOST special airing tonight after the show. Well, I'm not changing it. It wasn't all that original anyway.