Review of Lost (2004)

Moving picture, 43 hours

First three seasons only.

A plane crashes on a tropical island in the Pacific. The story of each prominent survivor is told through flashbacks and the place keeps getting stranger.

Adventure and drama, but not science fiction. It works on the fantasy premise that “The universe has a way of course correcting”, as stated in season 3, episode 8. It’s a bit like Verne’s The Mysterious Island (1874) and, in a sense, it’s Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) for the US: Highly engaging on its surface and loaded with mysteries about the world to trigger collective speculation and thereby draw people into a more serious interest.

Unlike Evangelion, Lost has the severe flaws of contemporary American TV drama as a genre: Pointlessly concurring music, insane antagonists, cliffhangers in front of most commercial breaks, and a massively over-extended runtime. There are meta jokes about interchangeable peripheral characters, and the mythically susceptible redshirts of Star Trek (1966) are mentioned, yet too few major characters die. Instead, there’s an increasingly ridiculous focus on a minority of especially beautiful people who are less vulnerable than others despite always doing everything important for no apparent reason. They are kept on screen by the tricks of soap opera: Excessive fist fights, amnesia, oozy love and endless “betrayals”.

The better characters and the first few layers of the unfolding mystery of the island are interesting, but it becomes apparent that the creators did not think through their worldbuilding. Where Evangelion ultimately makes sense, Lost does not. It seems to be a failed attempt at another Twin Peaks (1990) minus both the deeper agenda of deliberate surrealism and the parody.

References here: Twin Peaks (2017).

moving picture fiction series