There’s two shows that people have repeatedly been at us to do an episode on since we started this podcast. One is Dr. Who and the other is Lost. No matter what we’ve said in the past, we honestly had no intention of doing either.
Then a series of fortuitous events occurred in which Lost made its way onto our TV-on-DVD pile in the basement. First, Elton McManus of the Rethinking Lost podcast sent us an audio comment which obliquely referenced Lost. Then the next day we saw Season 1 in the previously-viewed discount bin at our local Blockbastards. It was almost as if some malevolent force was manipulating our destiny.
Anyway, we watched the first six episodes (five by Mandi’s count) before recording our thoughts. Not to spoiler our own episode but we basically decided it’s a bad show that’s fairly entertaining despite being as ridiculous and subtle as starting a bonfire with jet-fuel. Perhaps I should actually say we found it fauxly entertaining.
What I mean by that is I’m not convinced it’s genuinely engaging. The writers are very good at keeping the audience guessing with intrigue and coming up with addictive cliff-hanger crack.
On one hand, you could ask what more we need to keep us engaged—if we want to watch the next episode, isn’t that the proof in the pudding?
But on the other hand, I would reply there’s a difference in being ensnared by matinée serial gimmicks and being genuinely engaged by a sophisticated, cohesive plot and rich characters who come to life on the screen.
It’s like the difference between masturbation and sex. Or a delicious slice of pizza from a street vendor and a 5-star gourmet meal. There’s something to be said for both options, but when people treat the former like it’s the latter, that’s where I begin to take issue.
Let’s be honest, Lost is street-meat (I’m going with the food analogy, not the sex analogy here). It’s tasty, it’s filling, it leaves you wanting more. But it’s also empty calories.
The characters—stereo- or arche- types depending on how forgiving you are—have little substance in themselves, but have been seasoned with so much dramatic-MSG they explode in your mouth. The situations they find themselves in look like a genuine chicken breast, but you know they’re made out of pressed-meat slurry. The plot is constantly being driven by characters’ bad decisions and random crises which superheats the ingredients like a microwave oven—a technique exploited by the similarily tiresome Battlestar Galactica. (Speaking of tiresome, this food analogy is getting out of hand).
Entertaining? Yes. Engaging? no. Just like that craving for another hotdog, once you wait it out, you’d rather have something more substantial instead.
So, yes we’ll be watching Season 1 to its fruition, but we’ll probably skip further servings in favour of something with less delicious, salty grease and more nutrients.