Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lost Season 1

“For I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this too I believe, that "unless I believe, I shall not understand.” –Anselm of Canterbury

A lot of people are taking stock of the decade and coming out with “Top Ten” lists of movies, TV shows and all sorts of things. In some ways it is too early to do the decade justice. Only now are we able to look at the 90s with any degree of objectivity to see what really did stand the test of time. That being said, Lost may emerge as the best TV show of the decade no matter when you make the list, largely based on the first season and the show that it established.

Lost is like a “how to” guide of story-telling. It is carefully constructed and plotted; which is an amazing thing in the world of television, where stories are confined to time limits and ratings. In many ways, TV in the 00s was able to break out of a lot of these limits building on the season-long plot devices that some shows, like The X Files and Buffy started introducing in the nineties. Sort of like combining the best of episodic television with the best of soaps, the way a lot of Latin American TV has been doing for years.

Lost simply took all of that potential and brought it to its best possible fruition. Building on a template informed by The Twilight Zone, Gilligan’s Island, the movie Cast Away, the novel “The Lord of the Flies,” classic philosophy, philosophy of religion, computer games like Myst, and reality television like Survivor, J.J. Abrams and company plotted a mystery delivered through flash backs and varying perspectives. It is storytelling mastery. And it is not a mystery to be solved, but more like a puzzle to be enjoyed.

At the heart of the story are some of the best developed characters in television. The show takes its time and slowly reveals more and more about more characters than most modern audiences are used to seeing. It is more like a novel than a television show in that regard. At the heart of the story stand two characters: Jack Shephard and John Locke, representing knowledge and belief respectively. In their characters we see the main theme (among many) of the first season. This aspect appeals to all of us who like Theology, for what is Theology if not the desire to understand the things we believe?

This show demands that we view it completely and in order, but along the way there are some stand-out episodes:

The Pilot:
This double-length episode was the most expensive episode ever made for television. It introduces the viewers to something we had not really seen before… truly cinematic quality television.

The Moth:
A great character episode, that also brings the subject of faith and sanctification into the conversation very clearly. The experience of the survivors is going to be one of salvation in a very religious sense.

Raised By Another:
!!!! If you ever want to know what a textbook example of great story-telling looks like, watch this episode. They’ve planted, woven, and braided this plot perfectly!

A great character study of one of the best characters in the series, and some set-up for later pay-off.

Humor and conspiracy combined in just the right mix, and the realization that a mystery unsolved is often more fulfilling than a nicely wrapped-up equation.

Of course, the closure for this season and the set-up for the next.


  1. I love J.J. Abrams. You should check out his TED talk about mystery. He's the man!

  2. Yeah. I haven't seen that, but am currently reading "The Gospel According to Lost" for review here later. They talk about his Magic Box in it. That is a cool thought!


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