24 May 2010

O Lost

"O lost, And by the wind grieved, Ghost,
Come back again.
" - Thomas Wolfe

Commercial Television sometimes makes for too easy a target. Series abound with poor writing, hackneyed themes, and mediocre acting. The commercial medium presents a challenging structure: David Lynch described it as making a series of short, self-contained subfilms, 10-15 minutes long and separated by mostly annoying distractions. The requirement of high ratings exacerbates the problem as Americans are generally not overly sophisticated in their entertainment choices.

And yet - sometimes a project develops which is able to transcend the limitations of the form. Commercial television has seen its greatness - The Twilight Zone, The Prisoner, China Beach, The Wonder Years, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (okay it was cable, but still had commercial interruptions) to name a few of the dramas. We can add Lost to that mix; for the past half-decade it has been the best thing on network TV. It had an ingenuous premise to be sure with all sorts of twists, turns, and clever cultural allusions. But ultimately, the great dramatic shows are about characters and JJ Abrams gave us some great ones. Last night's finale was a teary event - each realization/flashback reinforced our love for these characters. The episode was remarkably artifice-free, the writers simply gave us the straight story - no final twist or curve ball. All of our questions weren't answered of course (no one really expected that did they?) but we saw the people we have come to know and care about reach resolution and redemption.

Lost was ultimately about hope after all.