Thursday, February 4, 2010

FLG Doesn't Know

...what Alpheus and Arethusa have against Lost, but it's a fucking good show. Maybe, at the end of the season, which is also the end of the series, I will be disappointed. But if past performance is a guideline to future results, then I doubt it.


Andrew Stevens said...

It was a really good show for about half a season, but that was five years ago. Because the writers had no clear plan where they were going, they've been lost up their own backsides ever since.

FLG said...

I think that was true, especially in season 2. However, I also think that once they decided a fixed end date for the show they looked at the various questioned they raised and have done a very good job of tying them together.

Andrew Stevens said...

I must confess that I haven't watched it since midway through season 3 when it was obvious the writers had no idea what they were doing (and this is not unusual with J.J. Abrams's shows - Alias was the same way). I have heard that they've done a good job of valiantly trying to ret-con the whole thing so it makes some form of sense, but I am skeptical that this project can possibly succeed without magical plot devices with no motivation, which just pushes the senselessness to a different level. I suppose I might have forgiven it had it remained as stylish as it was in the beginning, but by mid Season 3, it had become tedious as well so I don't miss the show at all.

arethusa said...

Andrew Steven's second comment is pretty much why Arethusa dislikes "Lost" and thinks it is the greatest con of this TV era, perhaps the greatest TV con since "Twenty-One."

Andrew Stevens said...

Well, there is "The X-Files," the original "it turns out the writer had no idea what he was doing" show. "The X-Files" stayed stylish longer - it kept me engaged for the first four seasons, but I never even looked at the last five (?) since it was so obvious I had been conned.

It's a difficult balance, trying to write a novelistic television show - if you retain flexibility by not bothering to have any sort of end in mind when you start writing it, like "Lost" and "The X-Files," you eventually write yourself into a hopeless muddle. But if you plot it too rigidly, it's too difficult to roll with the punches, like losing an actor in mid-run.

I'm a whodunit fan. They're not great literature, usually, even the great ones. They're more like crossword puzzles. I was greatly enjoying following along with "Lost," trying to figure out what was happening from the clues we were being given throughout the first season. Imagine my disappointment when I realized midway through the first season that there was no solution to the crossword puzzle and I was just wasting my time. A good whodunit solution should leave the reader saying, "Of course, I should have thought of that." It shouldn't leave the reader saying, "Well, where the hell did that come from?" But it rapidly became obvious that the second response was the only one possible for any conceivable ending of "Lost." They had written too much stuff which couldn't possibly hang together with a coherent solution. By the way, it's okay, though inferior, to have an ending that everybody saw coming. Obviously that doesn't make for a great whodunit, but it sure beats the out of left field solution.

It's not just that it's a bad whodunit, though, it's also bad story-telling. As Edgar Allan Poe wrote in Philosophy of Composition: "Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dénouement before anything be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention."

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