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Friday, March 30, 2007

The Lost Conundrum

It’s been two years since Lost premiered, capturing TV fans’ attention and creating endless water-cooler discussions about the island mysteries and the survivors of flight 815.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of what we know:

--There is a list.
--Kate is not on the list because she is not “special.” She is, however, a fugitive.
--Locke’s dad is the real conman “Sawyer.”
--Locke’s dad pushed him out of a window and caused his paralysis.
--Jack is a good guy.
--Sawyer is a good guy, who sometimes does bad deeds.
--Jack “walks among them, but is not one of them.”
--Desmond sees the future and/or time travels.
--A scientific experiment, known as the Dharma Initiative, is involved.
--Hurley is not crazy, just unlucky, or perhaps cursed by his winning lottery numbers.
--Sayid is the brains of the group and once tortured people.
--The island could be purgatory.
--The Others are evil.
--The monster is actually black smoke that mutilates and kills people.
--Electromagnetic energy apparently crashed Flight 815.
--Walt has special powers.
--Claire is Jack’s half sister.
--Everyone is connected.
--The island has healing powers that cured Locke’s paralysis and Sun’s infertility, but oddly enough, not any of the other injuries that killed Boone, Eko and Shannon.
--Charlie kidnapped Sun because Sawyer told him to, in order to get the guns.
--Not entering the numbers in the computer caused weird electromagnetic activity.

After two years, we have some answers. But, apparently, not enough to keep viewers watching the way they once did. The pilot episode of Lost was two of the best hours of television ever produced and better than most films released in 2004, in terms of storytelling, cinematography and sheer edge-of-your-seat excitement. The ratings the first couple years reflected viewers’ fascination, as the show pulled in more than 21 million people on average.

Fast forward to 2007. Lost hit an all-time ratings low this week with just over 11 million folks watching. Why is the show bleeding viewers? It isn’t that much of a mystery, if you talk to some die-hard Lost fans.

Some folks blame the natural fickleness of the television audience. Shows that start out as ratings winners don’t always keep such large audiences. But, in Lost’s case, some — including me — believe the show got off course last year with the introduction of The Others, and it’s never recovered.

Here’s what we do know, Lost fans love the core group of characters we met in year one. We love their beach antics, their flashbacks, their foibles, their pride, their mysteries and how they interconnect. What we don’t love is watching them being captured, tortured and separated from their fellow Losties. (See the aforementioned ratings.) One of the best episodes this season involved Hurley finding a VW bus and enlisting Sawyer, Jin and Charlie to help him get it running. We were back to the beach, finally, with the folks we’ve come to care about.

Some fans tuned out last season because of The Others. Some left because they got tired of waiting for answers that never came. Some found the show “mentally exhausting” to watch because they couldn’t remember each character’s story arc details due to the sporadic way the show aired. Some simply lost interest.

I admit I tuned out last year when The Others took up screen time from my favorites. My TiVo stockpiled 12 hours of the show, before I finally caved in and watched. This season, things are better. The show seems like its old self again. Well, except for Jack playing football with the enemy like nothing ever happened. Um, note to Jack, these are the folks who hung Charlie, terrorized Claire, kidnapped Walt, and tortured your friends. (If you don’t think they tortured Sawyer and Kate, then you try eating a fish biscuit.)

The writers seem to understand viewers’ dissatisfaction with all the new faces and hilariously have written it in to Sawyer’s dialogue. When the two newest islanders were given a flashback episode this week, Sawyer voiced what many of us were thinking. “Who the hell are you?” he said to the new blonde gal on the beach.

Admit it, you were thinking it, too.

I have faith that Lost will return to its season-one glory. Yes, John Locke would be proud. The show may never recapture the monster ratings it once garnered, but hopefully the show creators will continue to unravel the mysteries of the island and entice those viewers who abandoned ship to come back. Even with its unsteadiness, Lost is still one of the best bets on TV.

And did I mention it stars Jack and Sawyer?


kayla said...

Jen, I think you're right that a lot of folks lost faith in Lost last season. I did. I still haven't got back on board yet, but if they're back to the beach, then maybe I'll come back.

big tuna said...

Jen, I think it's better the past few weeks ,too, but at the beginning of the seaso, Oy Vey! I HATE The Others plot. I miss the beach action and the flashbacks of the main characters. Ben should have been the one buried alive. HATE him.

steve said...

People have been so hard on Lost this season, but would they really be happy with the characters just sitting on the island waiting to be rescued. There has to be some drama!

Lisa said...

I think the ratings are down b/c the show has become way too complicated. I know several people who find it too taxing to watch an episode because we have to remember som many character/plot details from two years ago. It's frustrating as a viewer.

Bethany said...

I don't mind putting on my thinking cap for a good TV show. It's better than the drivel elsewhere. Yes, sometimes I'm baffled by all the literary and scientific references and admitedly watch with my laptop so I can Google a book name or reference, if needed, but for me, that's half the fun. This is an intelligent show for intelligent viewers.

Ben said...

Lost has lost its way. End of story.

strawberryshortcake said...

I agree Tube Talk Girl that part of the problem has been too many new characters. It was so nice to see Boone and Shannon this week. Sniff. Sniff. I miss Season 1!

kryptofreak said...

I thought this week's episode rocked. Jen, I LOL at Sawyer's "Who the hell are you?" comment, too. It's nice the writers are giving a nod to fans. At least, they're trying to listen to what fans what. Cough, cough, Smallville writers...take a note.

Vince said...

Why is it when a show hits a bumpy patch, people give up so easily? Relax, folks. It'll get better. As Jen said, have some faith!

kendra said...

Tube Talk Girl, you made me laugh out loud in my work cubicle with "Kate is not on the list because she is not “special.” She is, however, a fugitive." Loved it!

sasha said...

"If you don’t think they tortured Sawyer and Kate, then you try eating a fish biscuit." Bahhhhhh haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! LOL I can't breathe

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