I was very skeptical. Friends keep telling me that I must see it, that even my jaded opinion of television and my annoyance at the medium’s hollow artifices would be mollified by this series.
Well, I have at last seen the first few episodes of Lost and I can happily report that, from what I’ve seen, this television show cuts the mustard in almost every way. It is as enchanting as a baroque tapestry. It is as beguiling as a James Ellroy novel. It is, one gets the sense, leading somewhere, which is a rarity on episodic television. By some miracle, Lost does not insult the intelligence of its viewers and it even has the audacity to reward those who are paying attention. People are not what they seem to be. The setting is not what it seems to be. The situation, indeed, is not what it seems to be. One is left delighted by the confusion, driven compulsively to watch more, wondering what details the writers will throw in next.
Lost is one part Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, one part The Prisoner, one part Cast Away, and several parts a parable of humanism and interconnectivity. To wit, it may very well fall into that rarest of categories: sui generis.
In particular, one episode revealing the origins of Locke, a mysterious man with a penchant for knives and a capacious threshold of history and obscure trivia, was, much to my surprise, a moving tale of surprise revelations and indomnitable will. We see early on a young middle manager’s cruelty and agism directed to Locke, and realize much later that it is something more atavistic and unpleasant, yet ultimately futile. That television is still capable of exploring such human complexity, that indeed Hollywood is still capable of doing this, is nothing less than a miracle in this epoch of braindead entertainment designed for mass consumption.
This is that rare series that threatens to draw me away from my work and that may keep me up late. Let us hope that Lost‘s success finally gives the programming heads some clue that if television is to survive, it must, like Lost, be nurtured.