Friday, February 24, 2006

Don't "Miss" Out on Lost....

....or you'll be assaulted by execrable puns.

I was a bit tardy in joining the worldwide blog party so I might as well continue the johnny-come-lately trend by stating that I really enjoy the ABC hit show Lost.

Grace and I have been catching up on it via Netflix (actually she's already seen a few scattered episodes when they first aired but is patiently allowing me to catch up from the beginning) and it seems to have hit the mark on all the major areas:

WRITING - The show seems to have been thoughtfully scripted (mind you we're only through the first twelve episodes of season one so i remain blissfully unaware of any subsequent decline in quality that may be lurking in future discs). The show thus far has done an excellent job of establishing the main thread ('hey we're all stuck here on this remote island!') while sprouting up numerous points of interest and intrigue along the way (gradual character backstory reveals and intercharacter conflicts, suggestions of deeper meanings behind statements and actions, etc.). Each episode has its own unique feel and theme, mostly due to the general association of a particular character and his/her story to each one (though this may wear off in future seasons after the character bio tanks have been run dry).

Seems the mystery of the island is tied up in the characters' history but, while a few of them seem to have packed 85% of their emotional backage suitcases with guilt issues, there's no complete uniformity to the motivations; i guess time will tell how the survivors are connected. i'm sure there are countless fansites and discussion boards out there that could clear a few things up, but i'm one of those who would rather wait it out and see (i could barely stand to go to the IMDB page for links as they list the beginning /ending years of actors' involvement with the series; thanks for telling me when each character gets killed IMDB!)

ACTING - Contains a well-acted ensemble cast (good ensemble casts, like Newsradio before Phil Hartman's exit / Jon Lovitz's entrance, to me are one of the key pieces of quality entertainment) with grounded, realistic character profiles.

Locke (played by Terry O'Quinn) gets top honors from me for now but in truth there isn't a single character that isn't fascinating to watch. The personalities are widely varied and (credit again to the writing) they all seem to remain true to their nature over time (as opposed to changing when needed to suit the convenience/laziness of the writers.... jerkass Homer, anyone?)

Grace's favorite character is Sayid (played by Naveen Andrews.... hey, he was in that laugh-riot Rollerball! side note on this movie, my good friend Kevin and I listened to the commentary track and this pretty much sums up LL Cool J's contribution to the session: "aw yeah, that's my boy Chris Klein there!") i like him too (Sayid, not LL Cool J) but as i said earlier everyone does a bang-up job with their roles.

CINEMATOGRAPHY AND MUSIC - you couldn't ask for a more vibrant backdrop than a lush tropical island; i'm not sure if the colors were this vivid when the shows first ran on the network but on DVD they look fantastic. deep rich shades of green, blue, brown.... i'm not a cinematography buff or anything but it looks top-notch to me.

The music is appropriately minimal and creepy to suit the disorientation of both the characters and the viewer; it gets out of the way when it's unneeded but returns to underscore dramatic scenes in just the right amount. Again, I'm no music expert so I haven't bothered to look up who does the music or what his influences were but he/she gets a thumbs-up from me for not overdoing it.

A great example of the combined audio/video prowess is a scene where Jack stumbles by torchlight through the dark jungle, pursuing visions of his recently deceased father. The camerawork and music create this great mix of fear, delirium, and desperation; it's the closest I've seen to a live-action rendition of the pyschological-horror mastery of Silent Hill.

TITLE SEQUENCE - ok normally i don't pause to reflect on the title sequences of TV shows or movies but i think Lost's deserves a mention here because it captures the spirit of the whole show. Stark white letters "LOST" on a pitch-black background spiraling dreamlike from the distant background to the foreground and disappearing behind the camera's eye, accompanied by a plaintive bit of sound/music that gives the whole thing an out-of-time, surreal feeling. what better way to set the mood for a show about a a mysterious island and the group of strangers stranded there by a catastrophic event, unknown if by accident or fate.

(or maybe i like it because it reminds me of that old lead-in for the special presentations they used to run on CBS when i was kid) there you have it, i perform a public education service by painting a glowing review of a hit show that's been in existence for nearly two years now.

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