Mathan and Kevin used to be huge fans of Lost. Really huge. But then season two came around and the show just wasn’t as “special” anymore. Season three debuted, and after the six episode arc, Mathan hung in there while Kevin stopped watching the show altogether. They recently had a conversation discussing some of the points that have soured them to Lost, and whether former fans could get back on the bandwagon.
Kevin: Comparing seasons, does it seem like the creative team has gone off on some wild tangent compared to the original premise?
Mathan: Yeah, the show does seem to veer wildly from extreme to extreme. I mean where as some shows don’t seem to listen to the fans, Lost does, to the detriment of the product. Everyone wants to know about the Others, so the beginning of this season is devoted to a look at how they work. People complain that mysteries aren’t being explained and the second half of the season is chock full of reveals (Claire and Jack are related? Jin did get Sun pregnant? So, that’s how Locke got in his wheelchair?)
And the whole episode devoted to Paolo and Nikki seemed like a waste. The show has enough fans who trust the writers completely (one need just read the posts in our super secret Staff Forum and see the numerous posts swearing allegiance to the writers), so why didn’t the writers just go about things their own way, without being hindered by public opinion?
K: I think the look at the Others really hurt the show. The first 6 episodes were boring, and then there was no trace of the show for 2 months. Instead of leaving me wanting to see more, I simply moved on. Now I’m taking classes on Wednesday nights and I don’t feel like I’m missing ANYTHING by not watching or recording programs that day. I know that Raffi and Matt have been saying that these new episodes have been really great, but the truth is that to me it’s a case of too little, too late.
But speaking of Deuce Guy and Nikki, they just seem like the next set of featured characters that you’re meant to invest yourselves in, but find out that you don’t care one way or another about them. It’s a recurring theme here – Boone, whatshername, Libby and Ana all died and it had no emotional impact whatsoever. Why is there such a problem here with creating that feeling that anyone can die at any time? Or at least creating new characters that we can care about?
M: I’d say that your point about the focus on the Others is again, the writers trying to give the fans what they want. Everyone was clamoring for more info on the Others and that’s what they got for the first part of the season. I think it’s really a case of “be careful what you ask for…”
But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the show has certainly become more enjoyable as of late. The flashback reveals have been pretty predictible, but the island action has been interesting. The power play between Ben and Locke was cool to watch. Seeing people turn on Jack was enjoyable. And actually Ben’s flashback was pretty good
My main problem with Paolo and Nikki was how the writers built them up. It was a case of me trusting the writers and them letting me down. I remember reading how critics of the characters would enjoy them once their storyline was “activated.” Yet all we got was one episode crammed with scenes designed to make people say “oooh.” It was a letdown.
I do think that creating characters that you care about is going to be difficult just by the nature of the show. I mean you’ve got a handful of characters (Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke) who aren’t going to be expendable. Viewers already have an attachment to them so any character introduced isn’t going to have viewer attached to them in the same manner. Basically since the “Tailies” were introduced (and promptly killed off) the idea is that any new character is due for a death scene.
I didn’t really care about Boone, but I kind of winced when Shannon got shot. Ana was predictable and Libby was shocking. But I as a guy who keeps hoping that Jack or Sawyer gets killed it’s pretty obvious that I’m not too attached to anyone. In fact I was pretty much overjoyed when the whole “Charlie’s going to die” storyline came about, clearly for the wrong reasons.
I do think that Eko’s death had impact for numerous reasons, so they can introduce characters and have deaths that matter. It can be done. Now it’s just a matter of having the writers.
I am curious what other beefs you’ve got with the show.
K: To me Eko’s death was really the one that they made to matter. He definitely had more story to tell and I think offing him so abruptly did hit the viewer with the desired emotional impact. It’s a question of whether it came too late. Remember that they swerved us early with Charlie’s “death” at the hands of Ethan.
Clearly, we’ve got a “Big 4” now in Kate, Jack, Sawyer and Locke. Should we consider the others as expendable?
The other major thing I wanted to address was the “six degrees” nature of the show. Heroes seems to be going down this road as well, but it seems like everyone was already linked to one another, and they all happen to get onto the same plane and are forced to live together on a (somewhat) deserted island. (Which as it turns out, isn’t all that isolated, but apparently is as hard to find as The Beach in Thailand. But I’m not gonna go there). Doesn’t this seem a bit too convenient?
M: I’m apt to agree with you on Eko’s death and it kind of echoes your point about the writers; his death wasn’t really their idea.
I don’t know if we can consider every character outside of the Big Four expendable. I think that Hurley is pretty safe as he’s the most lighthearted character. I’d also say that Sawyer isn’t safe as I think (if we are to believe the writers have everything planned out) he’s played the role in the big picture that he was supposed to. But apart from those examples I’d agree with you on who’s safe and who’s expendable.
The Six degrees nature of the show was cool in the beginning as things were unfolding. It was like “oooh, Jack was a doctor in the hospital where Shannon and Boone’s pop was brought in.” It was subtle then. But now it’s so blunt that seems like they don’t trust the audience. Reveals like “Jack and Claire share the same father” or “Locke’s con man father is the con man that’s haunted Sawyer all these years” seem trite a) because most rabid fans (the ones who still watch) figured it out awhile ago and b) because they feel so rushed.
Still the Six Degrees nature is getting annoying. Unless it’s explained that these people manipulated into being on that flight together it really stretches the suspension of disbelief way past it’s breaking point. I’d even call it hokey. I suspect it’ll all be explained away as a mystical hand of fate that caused them to all be together. But at this point it’s almost like a spontaneous family reunion, as closely connected as all of the characters on Lost are.
K: OK, so let’s wrap this up with this – do you think that in the last half of the season Lost has done enough to entice people back? To gain new viewers?
M: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s an “entice people back” type situation. The producers have said that the show was a “cult” type show and that the drop is ratings is just a leveling off.
I think that while the second half of the season has introduced some interesting developments (Jacob, the unhinging of Ben, the attempt to rescue Desmond) ultimately the frustration that views felt, either from the lack of episodes or the percieved lack of forward motion in the episodes are a hurdles a tad too high to overcome. And the flurry of reveals in the second half just reek of desperation on the producers part to try to appease a fanbase at the end of their rope.
I do think that if those who stopped watching the show pick up the season on DVD (or if ABC is smart enough to repeat the season over the summer) they won’t be disappointed and might actually find themselves hooked back in. The show might not be worth the hype, but it’s not a bad show once you accept it for what it is; an example of delayed gratification that relies heavily upon putting your faith in the hands of people who may or may not know what they’re doing or where they’re going.
– Lost airs on ABC on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT with the third season finale airing on May 23.
– Lost airs on the CTV network in Canada on Wednesday nights….