Lost's High-Speed Format Change

As the Lost-watching member of J/DB, I (and my roommates minus the one who’s lame and not caught up) have been really impressed with Lost so far this season. I’d go so far as to say that we’re finally getting a season to rival the first, which I’m really happy about. It seemed weird that the first season was the best, that’s just not normal. Anyway, I think the awesome stems from two things.

First up, the writing just seems so much more cohesive than it did in the second and third seasons (this started happening last season, but is even more evident now). Deciding to stop trying to extend the series according to the wishes of the network, and setting a firm end point for the show was a great move by Cuse and Lindelof. It let them figure out what each season needed to accomplish, which has sped up the pace that we’ve been learning about the island, the lost-bombOthers, the Dharma Initiative, and everything else. I’m actually really impressed with how much more information they’re packing into episodes, while still managing to not actually come out and directly tell the viewer most of it. They’ve also managed to bring some characters back to former glory *cough*Locke*cough* after they’d sort of lost their way.

The other thing more directly relates to the current season, and that’s the breaking of the show’s format. When it started out, the weekly flashbacks focusing on one or two characters, intertwined with the current on-island plot worked fine. Adding the Tailies in season two helped keep things fresh, even if they were pretty lame/dead, but by season three we were really starting to run out of new background stuff to find out about the characters, and it showed a bit. Season four brought in the flash forwards, which were cool and fixed this problem. Little did we realize that their sole purpose was to bring the story up to where it needed to be for season five.

Now we’ve got two simultaneous plot lines (as far as progression goes, not temporally): the on-island story and the off-island story. Before we’d get our main story for half an ep, with the rest giving us background, hints and character developmentlost-locke-wheel. Now, we’re getting half main storyline, and half also-main storyline. With a few exceptions, we’ve run out of personal mysteries that need to be solved, and all of the interpersonal relationships and alignments have been set up (way, waaaay better than Heroes, like it even needed to be said) and we’re full steam ahead towards the finish line, and actually getting some answers about the island.

I love big picture stuff, always have. I love watching/reading something for years, and after a big revelation being able to go back and pick out all sorts of little hints and clues that prove to you that yes, the creators do indeed know what they’re doing. This a trait that all my favourite comic writers have (one of my most favourite being Brian K. Vaughan, who’s been writing for Lost since the middle of season three), and it’s a trait that that many of my favourite shows have. Right now, I’d have to say that the only show that you could argue is doing big picture better than Lost is BSG (sorry Kripke), and even then I think you’d be hard pressed to win said argument.

-Jerk

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~ by Jerk on February 14, 2009.

One Response to “Lost's High-Speed Format Change”

  1. I agree, this season has been stellar so far and for all the reasons you said. We’re not really wasting any moment of time this year. Every scene matters and it’s all coming together in a fascinating way.

    I’d say the first season of Veronica Mars was also its finest season!

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