With Netflix, and other services, TV series have never been so widely available, and the temptation to binge watch a whole season of Breaking Bad in one night can be overwhelming. May contain spoilers.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Imagine being stranded on a deserted island. Almost certainly something that you’ve heard before. But when their Oceanic flight 815 from Sydney to Los Angeles breaks up in mid-air somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, this becomes a reality for a diverse group of people. And by diverse, I mean really, really diverse. Passengers on flight 815 include a lottery winner, a murderer, a spinal surgeon, an Iraqi torturer, a mechanical engineer, a con man, a box salesman, jewel thieves, a forgotten rock star, a pregnant woman, a high school teacher and a cute dog.
The immediate crisis is not a lack of common experiences though; it is something a little more pressing. Plane crashes are not exactly the most comfortable experiences, and there is a frantic rush to escape the burning wreckage and to bring fellow survivors to safety. Jack Shepard, the spinal surgeon, becomes the unofficial leader of the survivors and soon sets off into the jungle, the first of many such expeditions, to find the cockpit so he can radio for help.
Back at the beach meanwhile, the survivors hear strange noises in the forest, accompanied by falling trees, which, along with the knowledge there is a murderer amongst them, doesn’t make for much of a happy camp.
After stumbling through this same jungle, Jack unearths the cockpit and finds the co-pilot still alive. No sooner than the co-pilot tells him that, without the knowledge of air traffic control, they were over 1000 miles off course so no rescue crew will find them, than he is snatched by a monster made of black smoke and killed.
So far, so bad. But wait, it gets even worse! Food and water supplies salvaged for the plane soon start to run out, and the news that there will be no rescue is taken pretty badly. As flashbacks reveal how each person came to be on the plane, tensions in the camp reach breaking point.
And this is just the first couple of episodes of series 1 of 6.
Essentially bad things continue to happen, with the odd amusing scene, like when Hurley, a fans favourite, discovers a set of golf clubs and sets up the first Island golf course. Bad soon turns to sinister, as the group realise that other people are on the Island, giving them the inventive, but quite effective name of “The Others”. Mystery after mystery is found on the Island, which seems to have been luring people to it for centuries, but each answer brings only a fresh round of questions, which are then slowly answered, bringing more questions, then more answers, then even more questions, then… You get the picture.
There are definitely some great characters in Lost and some fantastic little backstories, as well as a scattering of true love matches and, more entertainingly, mismatches. But after a couple of series, the backbone of any show, the main plot, simply becomes too convoluted, too messy and frankly, unbelievable. This would be acceptable in a show that made it clear that the whole thing was pure fantasy, but with Lost, there is an expectation that the viewer swallow ever crazier twists and turns without questioning the foundations of the show.
The first few series are great television, and it is easy to see how Lost soon built up a cult following and amassed awards for its ground-breaking ideas and visual techniques. Undoubtedly though, the series tails off toward the final season, as if to simply prolong the show and to squeeze out of few more elusive truths and answer questions asked in the very first episodes. The final ending is something that often receives widespread criticism, but personally, I did not find it so bad, I was almost glad that the series had come to an end, it was almost a mercy.
Lost has all the initial promise to be amazing, and manages to sustain it for a while, but in the end, it cannot reach the high standards it sets for itself, ushering in all kinds of bizarre phenomena, like ley lines, to try to explain away the plot issues. Once you start Lost though, it is hard to stop, as the need to know exactly what is happening on this mysterious island can be overwhelming, until the very last underwhelming answer. It is for this reason that Lost is probably a series best forgotten about.