Lost -- Season 1 Review

Yes, yes, I know this is just a tad late, but I finally got around to watching the series. First of all, let me get a few points out of the way.

Now we have our basis taken care of... lets continue.

When Lost was first announced, it didn't make an impression on me one way or another, and as a result, I did not tune in for the first episode. On a show like this, it really is detriment to the viewer to come in having missed anything. I think I saw episode 4 at some point when I was flipping through channels, but since I had missed the crucial first three episodes, I wasn't invested in any of the characters, so I tuned out for the rest of the season. It received critical acclaim as a must-see series, basically running against Fox's

  1. Obviously, we're about to start season 3 this fall, so its definitely done well for itself to say the least. Again, I'm glad I got to see it without the commercials. I'm spoiled by HBO and shows like Deadwood without interruptions. Obviously, Lost is still cut and paced to have commercials unlike Deadwood, but its still infinitely better than suffering through bad car and beer commercials.

Characters

On a show that revolves around being stranded on a 'deserted' island, the characters become your most important asset -- and Lost does not disappoint. Each character is fundamentally flawed, scared, heroic, self-serving enough to be believable and demand sympathy (we'll come back to the believability is a moment). The actors they chose are fantastic, with few besides Dominic Mogan (LOTR) having very many other jobs on the big or small screen. With such an ensemble cast, I like how (at least in the initial episodes) dedicate each episode to the back story of one or two of the characters. I know they are all necessary, but I found myself wanting to more quickly get back to scenes on the island.

-- I like how they have left themselves lots of backstory in each character to slowly reveal over the next few seasons. It seems like they use the flashbacks to increase the tension in the present, and yes, frankly do a good job of it.

Really the Island itself is a character unto its own -- and at the moment I'm suspending judgement. I think they offered too much too quickly. It seems too contrived as an elaborate rat maze/race, rather than a wild unknown force, which I think would be more realistic. This may change in later episodes... we'll see.

-- Nope... see my section below on believability.

Jack

If you want to say the show has a main character, you'd probably point to Jack. The charismatic leader, the essential doctor that you need on a show like this.

Kate

So far one of the more interesting characters. Thankfully they have only slowly let out her backstory, so there is still a good bit of mystery.

-- Unlike some of the other characters, I don't think she developed as much over the first season. Very focused and driven with goals of her own. She's the linchpin between many pairs of characters.

Sawyer

On a show like this, you need this character. He's a bit like Doctor Gaius Baltar on Battlestar Galactica (on a side note, I just realized -- there are substantial parallels between Lost and BG. Make the following substitutions: Island = Cylons. Sawyer = Gaius, Jack = Apollo, Kate = Starbuck, Locke = Captain Odama... I guess there is no Co. Ty equivalent. Wow... for anyone who has seen both... does this work? Anyway, we'll leave that to another post). I really hope the character evolves, as different facets of the Island replace the conflict he represents -- eventually it should happen as they start to run out of supplies.

-- At the end of the season, this parallel doesn't work as well, and arguably could replace Sawyer with Locke. Sawyer still retained his flaws, but overall his character has softened... the most development over the season 1 arc.

Saiad

One of my favorite characters so far!

Locke

Obviously a favorite. His backstory is incredibly touching (suspending disbelief for a bit -- wouldn't your legs have basically atrophened?)

Plot Lines

Early on it's a bit repetitive -- Group needs item X. Either A) Sawyer has X or B) is suspected of having X. Jack/Kate demanding it of Sawyer. Eventually we get back to status quo, having not really made any progress. There are other threads obviously, but the Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle through the first half of the season is definitely the most dominant.

-- By the end of the season, there were multiple lines going at once, which kept things interesting and moving. Characters matured and/or became more flawed, which definitely helped.

-- Believability

I thought they had gone too far overboard in the second/third episode when they went looking for the radio on the plane. How were they going to reconcile something plucking the pilot out of the cockpit window with some that really exists (ala not a dinosaur). Over the first season, they slowly explained those aspects, though not at all completely. Will we get an explanation on how someone gets 30ft tall trees to shoot out of the ground like rockets?

Additionally, there are too many contrived character quirks/traits that while don't detract too much, I found to be a bit absurd (Hurley and Locke for example... possibly Walt but we don't know yet). Everyone else is pretty much dead on believable.

All in all an exceptional series. It will be interesting to see how many years they go. Granted, I never thought 24 would have the life it does. I watched the complete first season (DVD of course), and then snippets of the second season. Again, too many contrived twists just to extend the series to 24 episodes, when 18 or so would have done just fine.

Season 2 is on order. Though I will probably re-watch season 1 again before starting 2, just to make sure I haven't missed anything.