You All Everybody

I finished the first season of “Lost” sometime over the past week. I like it a lot; I can’t say that I’m wetting myself to see what happens next, but I do have to admit to downloading the first few episodes from iTunes so I can watch them on the flight back home. (TiVo has been recording a few, but not all of them from season 2. According to the episode guides, I’m missing episodes 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42).

Favorite moment so far is when Hurley is running through the airport and there’s the soccer team with the numbers on their shirts. Next favorite would be Arzt’s final scene, and I got more about that to say in a minute. Most annoying characters are now Walt and Michael. Yeah, they’ve had a tough time and yeah, you’ve got to feel sorry for them, but come on. All they do is pick fights with people and fail to connect and conjure polar bears. The annoying people you feel sorry for are the worst kind of annoying people, because you can’t just come right out and be mean to them and tell them to go away.

I admit that Sun and Jin’s story gets me every time they have an episode with them. Also, Sun is hot. And I also got a little weepy at Jack’s story where his dad told him he wasn’t able to let go. That was like a double-whammy of sad, in the flashback and the present day.

I’m thinking that this is one of the rare shows that’s better in weekly episodes instead of watching them all in one go. It’s still good, but I get the impression that the reason it caught on with so many people is because they had time to ponder all the cliff-hangers and mysteries and build up the speculation around them. When you watch the whole thing in two weeks, it’s hard to have a reaction more profound than, “Well, that happened.”

One thing that concerns me, though, is that I watched a couple of the documentaries on the last disc and I’m worried that I might already be too much invested in what’s going to end up being a disappointment. Obviously, there’s a lot that they’re just making up as they go along, but that’s not that bad as long as the stuff they come up with has payoff and isn’t just filler. (They’ve proven they can come up with stuff on the spot and make it work; according the documentary, they invented the characters Sun and Jin at the last minute just because they knew they wanted to cast Yunjin Kim).

What bugged me was how they were talking about the pilot and how it originally had Jack be killed by the monster when they find the cockpit. Kate was originally supposed to be the hero of the show. It was that way pretty late, too, apparently; they have footage of both Yunjin Kim and Evangeline Lilly auditioning for Kate’s part using her dialogue after Jack’s death. The reason that annoys me is because it’s such a cheesy gimmick. It’s the kind of stuff high schoolers write when they’re trying to be daring and bust up cliches. You get attached to the hero, and bang! He dies! Sure, Hitchcock did it, but he kind of ruined it for everyone else.

Now, you could say that the bit with Arzt was the same thing, but it’s not. The reason I liked it was because it was such an obvious gimmick, that everyone could see coming from a mile away, and there was never any doubt whatsoever how that was going to play out. So it played with the gimmick by making it all about timing. Your suspense doesn’t come from wondering what’s going to happen, but when. And the timing of the punchline was just about perfect.

So I’m still hoping that what’s down the hatch is cool, and the monster is cooler than just black smoke, and whoever The Others are is cool, and the story behind the numbers, and Claire’s baby, and Walt’s “being different,” and the whispering, and the island itself all turn out to be worth the investment. I’m actually highly skeptical that the revelations themselves will be all that great, but I still have faith that they can make the lead-up to the revelations great. Like in “Twin Peaks.” Finding out who killed Laura Palmer wasn’t all that impressive on its own, but leading up to it were some of the most downright horrifying moments in television ever.

And unlike “Twin Peaks,” and “The X-Files,” and “Buffy,” I’m hoping that they know when to quit.