LOST: Worth the Hype

lostUntil recently, I had never watched LOST.  This wasn’t due to any particular snobbery on my part: I was in college when the series began, and it was next to impossible to keep up with any live TV at the time.  And as the seasons wore on, it seemed impossible that I would ever be able to catch up, and everyone agreed: this is NOT a show into which you can jump in the middle.

I wasn’t completely ignorant about the show.  I knew what the basic premise was, and other little details that seem to creep in from cultural consciousness.  And after awhile, like many other people, the show began to annoy me.   Every year at the Golden Globes, there they were.   How many mysteries could there still be?  Were they still on the freaking island?   Since network TV isn’t particularly well-known for their stellar dramas anymore, I assumed this was another show that was overexposed, overhyped, bloated with its own importance.

Then, a few weeks ago, most of the series was available to watch instantly on Netflix.   I made the decision to watch the show in its entirety, for the first time ever.  And I am not an easy audience, especially when it comes to writing.  I may be forgiving of silly sitcoms, but dramas that get acclaim for writing have to deserve it.

I tend to be even harsher when it comes to shows aimed at “smarter” audiences.  One trend, that I’ve come to loathe, is unnatural, overly-clever dialogue.  Whedon walks a fine line with this, and the Gilmore Girls took the line and used it as a lasso in a bad strip club routine.  Since LOST is acclaimed for its writing, you can imagine I sat down to watch with trepidation.

I watched the whole show in a few weeks.  Five-plus seasons, with an average of about 20 episodes each.  I stayed up ’til around 3am every night for at least a week.   I am so not kidding.

I can’t really speak for the show as a whole, because obviously the show hasn’t ended yet, and we all know that the ending is very important in a show like this.  Still, here’s what I’ve found so far:

Holy cow, the show has been deserving of all the acclaim it’s received.  Not only does the show avoid the too-clever dialogue trap – indeed, it’s some of the most natural dialogue I’ve seen in quite awhile – but in terms of the plot twists and turns, it manages to tie most things together without a single eye-roll on my part.  The writing as a whole – even in the dreaded Writer’s Strike truncated season – is remarkably consistent at a high level.  It’s much more consistent than, say, Battlestar: Galactica.

One of the neatest things I noticed is that I can’t tell when filming began and ended for each season.  Since the scenes intertwine so well, I originally assumed some of the initial scenes from Season 2 must have been filmed at the end of Season 1, for example.  But you can’t really tell, and once I got a few episodes into Season 2 I learned that that intertwining would happen through the entire show, season after season.  Since I watched everything in a row, differences in hair, for example, should stand out… but it mostly didn’t.  Beautiful.

All in all, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  Extremely pleasantly.   I won’t go so far as to call myself a fangirl, because somehow I feel that title should go to those loyal viewers who waited, year after year, with their theories and speculation.  But I’m an appreciator, that’s for sure.  And I’ve got my fingers crossed that this quality will continue to the very end.

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