Are you disillusioned about LOST?

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JanicM
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Are you disillusioned about LOST?

Post by JanicM » Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:18 am

Even though Lost will always be at least one of my top3 TV shows, I've also become increasingly disappointed with the show, especially with recent reveals.

I think the best example is still the blast door map. People went nuts over this thing back in the day, analyzing every detail, only to later find out that it didn't mean shit for the overall plot, or gave us any clues to later events. Even little things, like Jacks crossword puzzle, were analyzed to death. I was so obsessed with the show back then, researching for hours on line because I actually thought that every episode is just full of clues about the overall plot.

It has become pretty clear that all these details are more cosmetic than anything and even major mysteries turn out to have pretty weak explanations with plot holes (most recent examples: Christian; whispers). I think Justin said in one of the recent episodes he has accepted to be disappointed by explanations and that the most fun part is the speculation. The question is:

1. Could reveals of major mysteries be pulled off better or will it simply always be disappointing after all the speculation?

and further
2. Do you think the consistency of the overall plot and mysteries could 've been handled better considering the show is running for 6 years and to what extend?
3. Are you (at least to some extend) disappointed with the show?
"Bite off more than you can chew. Then chew it."

Claude
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Re: Are you disillusioned about LOST?

Post by Claude » Sat May 01, 2010 4:35 am

As an avid tv/film viewer, and a writer, my attitude is that you can't necessarily fault the writers or the show/film when you're disappointed. In general, different stories have different goals. I enjoy the Transformer films because they deliver what I think their goal is: big action and cutting edge effects. Transformers isn't trying to be Citizen Kane. If it were, I would consider the films major failures.

Like with most art, I think it's unwise to have your expectations be only the measure by which you judge the art. The artist has their own motivations and goals that are inseparable from the art itself. I think you're less likely to be disappointed if you attempt to align your expectation with the goals of the art. I think it's a more objective way to find if something is "good." That of course doesn't mean you have to like the goal of a particular artwork or story. Someone could make the scariest horror movie ever made, but if you don't like horror movies, you're not going to think it's good to you. Though I think it can still be true that said horror movie is a "good" horror movie. But if you watch said horror movie with the expectation that it's going to be a light, campy children's film, yes you will be disappointed. But the disappointment comes from your expectations, not from the merits of the film itself.

Lost viewers had no idea what to expect from the show. We didn't know what it's goal was. By season 2, it was certainly clear the goal of Lost was to deliver action-packed drama that was heavily character centric, and uses mystery as a driving force of the story. It delivered that and kept delivering that. And anytime we thought they outdid themselves, the would come back and outdo themselves again.

I too obsessed about the blast door map. We though if we analyzed every detail, it would illuminate answers. It didn't. And while that's disappointing, no where inside or outside of the show was it stated or even suggested that the blast door map would answer big questions (aside from the obvious "?" in the middle--a small question which was eventually answered). So, I don't think it's fair to fault Lost for the blast door map not leading to more, when it is the viewers who took it upon themselves to put extra emphases on it.

Same scenario as when people thought analyzing the whispers would lead to answers. People can decide to place emphases on whatever they want, but that doesn't mean the show is going to place emphases on those same things. Should one be disappointed with Lost if they thought analyzing the film stock episodes are shot on would lead to the meaning of the island?

I think if you watched Lost from beginning to end fresh, you would be hard pressed to be disappointed about the blast door map since the story continues and moves on to other mysteries and plot points pretty quickly. That's why I think in terms of storytelling, for the most part, Lost did it's job very well.

There are so many elements involved in a show like Lost. So many things make it into the show that are simply outside of the core story that is being told. Take the painting in the hatch. It seemed to draw obvious parallels to that was going on, but it never came to a damn thing. I thought it would. Yes that's disappointing to me. But I don't factor that into my view of how successful Lost is, since I know it was just a painter who was told to paint something interesting. Same with the drawing Hurley made in the mental institution. He drew an arctic scene with an igloo, and I think a polar bear. Spend time analyzing what that might mean if you want, but the actor just drew whatever he wanted.

I think it's fair to be disappointed if, say, Jack and Christian never get to talk. But the blast door map not leading to more? I'm totally fine with that. And considering where the story went post Swan station, I don't think there was ever any way the blast door map could have lead to much anyway, in terms of the over idea of the show.

Lost had been one of the best shows I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of good shows. Every major element of the show gets an A in my book. Yes there are details that suck and explanations that leave plot holes. Some of that is just the nature of doing a TV show. But if 5% of Lost is disappointing, or sucks, that's pretty damn good in my book.

Justin
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Re: Are you disillusioned about LOST?

Post by Justin » Sat May 01, 2010 4:56 pm

On expectations and artistic goals:

I agree that expectations matter, but at the same time, I think it is appropriate to place value judgments on different goals. For example, if you set out to make Citizen Kane and you succeed, then I think that is objectively better, or has more aesthetic merit, than if you set out to make Transformers 2 and you succeed (I haven't seen T2, it's just a stock example). I also do not buy the idea that if you say "we set out to make a terrible movie with terrible acting and a terrible story, etc" and you succeed then I'm supposed to praise that, or say that's good because you accomplished your goal.

On the other hand, there are certain works that are almost universally praised, that don't really do anything for me. In the past I was tempted to say everyone else is wrong, but I've changed my mind about that. I think that is an indication that I am wrong, or my taste is off on that particular piece of work. The other side of that is that there are many movies that I personally love, but that are not considered great by most people. In that case, the movie is appealing to me on some personal level that does not indicate objective value, so again, my taste is a bit off, such things are probably bound to happen.

Shorter me: Expectations and artistic goals should be factored into a judgment, but it still makes sense to differentiate between higher and lower artistic goals.

Back to LOST:

I went through my disappointment phase very early on, in season 2. Damon and Carlton used to drive me insane with their banter and cagey style of answering questions. At a certain point, I realized the kind of show we were watching and I've been along for the ride ever since. I totally agree with Claude's take on LOST. At this point, all I want is a show that is enjoyable to watch, and a satisfying ending for the characters. It does not need to be watertight and to take into account all of the microscopic details that made their way into the show for various reasons. It is fun to deconstruct the show, but that doesn't really affect my opinion of it very much. An episode can have no logical holes at all and still fall flat. The show is working for me this season, I'm excited about all the developments, and I think they really outdid themselves yet again. I'm glad that at this very late stage I still see them taking risks and trying outrageous ideas just as they have throughout the show's run.

JanicM
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Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:13 am
Location: Germany

Re: Are you disillusioned about LOST?

Post by JanicM » Sat May 01, 2010 8:40 pm

The thing is, I've accepted that it's a character show, I guess people had to after this statement by Carlton:
"I think at its core that’s what it is. I mean we get asked a lot more questions about the mythology but at the core we’re really making a character show and the mythology is the icing on the cake. But it’s obviously the thing that captivates and engages people and leads to the sort of Thursday morning water cooler conversations. But if it was just about that, then we’d probably have a much smaller audience."

I can accept that a lot of the mystery is just cosmetic, but: The big mysteries (Dharma, The others, the temple, etc) which did get explained, simply didn't live up to their expectations in my opinion. Let's take Dharma for example, I don't think anyone had a bunch of clueless hippies (I'm exaggerating) in mind when they first saw the Swan video.
I just hope that the couple of mysteries we have left (Jacob, MiB, the island) will actually blow our minds and give the show an epic ending (the way BSG did, I had to watch that ending several times in a row because it was such a mindfuck :P).

PS: Alex Hahn makes some great comments in his latest podcast, that pretty much reflect my opinion.
"Bite off more than you can chew. Then chew it."

CorpsesAndChaos
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Re: Are you disillusioned about LOST?

Post by CorpsesAndChaos » Sun May 02, 2010 3:23 pm

heres how i view it:
art isnt about "objectivity" cause frankly, there are no static "objects" (so whats the use of the word object anyhow) - only processual flows of relation. if things were static there wouldnt be skilled restoration workers (or artists who try to work with these flows). LOST is filmed on actual film, as said by the producers.

and yeah, we can subjectively try to understand what the artist-writers WANT us to think about 'their' work but at the end of the day art is open for autonomous interpretation. hell yes they worked hard on this and seeing the videos of all the little "making of" parts is probably more interesting than the actual show at this point (as it can be with other works of film - take TRON for example. something that was radical for the time in process).

all that being said, and as ive mentioned in other posts: they basically got in over their heads with the "mythology" (whatever the hell that means in any academic sense. people think using the misnomer of mythology for "History of the island" is some cyclical, mythical process? Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade are barfing in their graves. myth is cyclical. the greeks and hebrews demythologized the world through linearization/History). its like they built up this anticipation to a rich, detailed history that would be very critical to the mysterious aura of the island but then totally backed out. it became a veneer for a cheesy TV drama masked with tiny elements of sci-fi and supernatural comic book giggles. so yeah, it does equate to Claude and Justin's idea of Transformers vs. Citizen Kane ONLY WHEN YOU DECIDE TO DEPART from the idea that it went from Citizen Kane to Transformers, metaphorically speaking, in depth (id rather use popular literary references like the world of Middle Earth since this show is not heavily dependent on its cinematography). which seems to be the reason everyone is upset. they were expecting something radical and detailed ALONG with the characters. the writers seem to have set these rules up for the spectators (always a bad ideas as an artist) LATE IN THE GAME, that they can no longer think about the show a certain way on numerous occasions. the "mythology is the icing" is a terrible comment. if you cant mesh/flow the two domains together of characters and the world you constructed - what is that saying? "no no no, only think about the characters now. the huge percentage of which were extremely boring or werent really compelling at all." its about the characters? characters dont live within vacuums (as much as theyd like us to think). people dont live in vacuums. by telling us that a lot of things just didnt matter that was OBVIOUSLY so interesting to the spectators is such a hilarious attempt to control the imagination and where the "art" should go at this point.

once they strip that away, the setting of the island - visually and as a rich detailed place with its own story - becomes deadened.

if they wanted the primary focus to be about characters, they should have worked WAY harder at developing interesting ones outside of about 2 or 3.

Perry
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Re: Are you disillusioned about LOST?

Post by Perry » Wed May 05, 2010 1:01 am

Rather than having the mysteries themselves be crazy, the writers have concentrated on making the storyline twists crazy, and I think they have successfully done this from the very beginning.

Sure we can examine every last pixel we see of the blast door map, which I did back then (or at least sponged off other people's examination), but if you watch Lost from beginning to end, like I recently did, you realise how insignificant something like that is.

I definitely haven't seen a show better than this. (And I've watched Twin Peaks, lol)

TheRadioTower
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Re: Are you disillusioned about LOST?

Post by TheRadioTower » Wed May 05, 2010 9:40 pm

Disillusioned? Absolutely not. I think LOST is doing everything that has made it my fav show, we are three episodes from the end of the series and I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen next. I'm as excited as I've ever been.

As for the plot holes go: Yes they exist but most of the time they don't bother me because I can find a way to explain them in my head. It's like the Harry Potter books- you can read the the fourth book (which is bascally built around one giant plot hole) and complain about Barty Crouch's ridiculously complicated plan when he could just have turned say Harry's pillow into a portkey or you can find a way to explain it for yourself and enjoy the book. Similarly one can also get hung about the plot holes and the inconsistencies introduced as a result of the introduction of the time-turner device in the 3rd book. These plotholes like in Lost are so minor in the grand scheme of things that it is unfair to tar the entire series as a result of them.

Disappointment with the existing mysteries is for a large part a result of expectations. I personally was not disappointed with the temple stuff but apparently some people were, I think that comes down to the idea that people expected mindblowing revelations once they got to the temple.JanicM referenced that quote by Carlton about Lost primarily being a character show. I did not buy that for a long time as I always felt that Lost was always 50-50 character and mythology but starting from around the middle of Season 5 the show has convinced me of what carlton was saying to a point that now I believe that when they do get around to answering questions about the island or MiB they are not going spend more than 10-15 minutes on it.

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