Friday, December 13, 2019

Lost Review TV Series


I'm probably one of the few people on the planet who isn't hooked on "Lost." It's not that I don't like it. I just happened to miss the first season, and everyone who told me how wonderful it was also told me that I too would be Lost if I tried to jump into the middle of this series.

And yet, as I heard these addicts talking about their favorite TV dramatic fix, it struck me that no one had a really clear understanding of what was going on. There was a lot of speculation, and a lot of puzzling over each season's complications. In other words, the first three seasons of "Lost" provided more questions than answers. This is also a demanding series, with scenes presented in "real time," flashback, and flash forward, and sometimes you can't tell which right away. Then there's a number thing going on, and an unexplainable magnetic/polarized/medical thing happening, where passengers on Oceanic Flight 815 who were in a wheelchair or had cancer or were sterile suddenly found their medical problems solved after the flight crashed somewhere in the Pacific between Australia and Los Angeles, and the island they landed on seemed somehow alive. Miracles happen. But so do other reversals. Women who get pregnant on the island die with their babies. There's something weird happening with life and death, sickness and health.

Plus, there's another group of people on the island called the Others, and a second splinter group of survivors that the first group thinks were Others. Then there's the scientific Dharma Initiative, which had researchers trying to study the island and its mysterious ways. And, of course what would a mystery-thriller be these days without some sinister corporate involvement? Is there a cover-up? What's with the second plane that's found in the ocean with all passengers accounted for . . . and dead? Is this island a kind of alternative world? Who exactly gets off this rock, and how? It's all of these complex ingredients that make for a more complicated show than if it were a simple cross between "Gilligan's Island" and "Survivor."

Anyway, since no fan I've talked to has it all figured out yet, I thought to myself, why not jump right in and see what this "Lost" phenomenon is all about? After all, I was practically invited to do so by the ABC-TV folks, who included a bonus feature on the Season 4 Blu-ray called "Lost in 8:15," pun intended. And hey, I'm game. If they want to try to summarize everything that's happened so far in eight minutes and 15 seconds, just to jog people's memories (in a campy, humorous way), I'll lace up the Nikes and go for it.

Season 4 seems to be a good one to jump right in. Three would have been awful, as I understand it, since it dealt mostly with the Others. But with so much fast-forwarding in the early going of Season 4, including a pretty big focus on the Oceanic Six (survivors who apparently get off the island), you're seeing things that don't always depend upon prior knowledge. Sure, some characters like Michael surface, but you can infer an awful lot about what went on just by the characters' reactions. So I did find that it's possible to jump right into this series and get hooked, at least with this season as the point of entry. This season, other Others fly onto the island and the question of who really are the good guys and who are the bad gets muddied even more than it apparently had been. This season begins where 3 ended, with a funeral and this burning question: "Who's inside the coffin?" That question is answered this season, as this dramatic version of "Survivor" does more to the losers than simply snuff out their torches. There's a bunch of snuffing in this show, which has more violence in it than many parents might be comfortable with. Then again, it's not for families or kids. But it's one of the best-acted, best-written television dramas today, with incredible scenery and cinematography to boot. And when so much of contemporary television is just hypnotic white noise, this show forces you to actually think. What's not to like?

Fans of this show already know who's starring, but it bears mentioning that while this show flirts with melodramatic plotting, there's nothing soapy about the acting. It's first-rate, and you can go up and down the ensemble and pat people on the backs for their work. Naveen Andrews is riveting as former killer Sayid, Matthew Fox has just a commanding presence as doctor Jack, Jorge Garcia is just plain lovable as former lottery-winner "Hurley," as are Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim as the Asian couple on the island, Jin and Sun. Terry Quinn is suitably menacing as John Locke, named for a 17th century British philosopher whose theories (e.g., the mind as a blank slate) seem to be in full flower on the island. As Ben Linus, a weasel who reminds me of Dr. Smith on the old "Lost in Space" series, Michael Emerson does a good job of sniveling and making you want to join the others who keep punching him in the face. "Sawyer" is probably the smarmiest character (Josh Holloway), Kate (Evangeline Lilly) a murderer who doesn't seem the type (there has to be a reason!), Claire (Emilie de Ravin) almost as radiant playing a new mother on this show as new mothers typically are, and a host of other characters lending credibility to an otherwise far-fetched plotting with some superior acting.