I like watching television. Mostly, it’s just repeatedly changing the channel and occasionally stopping on a program that catches my interest (or whatever my wife has decided to watch in the family room). But I have been known to become entirely fanatical about some shows (not going to lie, there have been a few) – but for me, there are two programs that have transcended the simple mantra of must-see TV. The first was ABC’s LOST which debuted in September 2004 and quickly became not only my favorite show of that fall season – it became my favorite show of all time. I was consumed by this show – the story of a plane full of strangers that crash land on a strange tropical island. I set my social clock for the week by it. I desperately searched the internet for spoilers before every episode. I annotated every little minutiae of the program thinking that I might be able to piece together all of the complex mysteries of the show before everyone else. I have even re-watched the episodes over and over again, and I have watched the entire series of 6 Seasons (121 episodes) from start to finish three times. My wife and I even threw a LOST Finale Party with friends to celebrate the end of our favorite program. My co-workers, family, and friends who also watched the show would always ask for my take on what’s happening because they knew how much of a geek I was for the show. I also have a LOST shrine in my basement to forever commemorate how much of a loser I am – and how much I loved this show.
Number of Seasons: 6 (2004-2010)
On September 22nd 2004, the greatest concept Drama in the history of Television premièred, and it also changed the way we watch concept dramas. A twisted tale of survivors of an airplane crash discovering the mysteries of the island they’re marooned on in the South Pacific, all the while trying to figure out a way home. Yes. I am most certainly talking about LOST. Never in my life have I been so enthralled, engaged, mesmerized, perplexed, and enriched by a T.V. show as I was (and still am) for LOST. I just finished watching the entire series again for the 5th time, so I HAD to pay tribute. Plus, Jacob told me to.
Each and every week I would be glued to the television to watch LOST. I would clear my social calendar to ensure that I was able to watch this program upon first airing. Often it would involve watching it with friends and having lengthy philosophical discussions about each episode after each viewing. When I wasn’t watching it, I was looking up as much spoiler info online as I possibly could. During the summer I would re-watch the previous seasons again and again on DVD. This crazy TV show with plane crash survivors, a secret scientific initiative, cult-like followers of an island protector, former island dwellers trying to get back to it, murderous mercenaries, time travel, electromagnetism, and a soul analyzing Cerberus of a Smoke Monster that could take on the human form of those that have departed, became an obsession for me. I needed more. With LOST there was always more…more off-island interconnectedness of characters…more conflicts…and more mysteries. Way way more mystery! Part of the fun was comprising your own theories about the show and every single piece of minutiae in it.
We can see the legacy of this show in other concept shows like The Walking Dead, or Game of Thrones. With LOST I was hooked from the very first moment I tuned in — when Jack ran out of the jungle onto a beach with disoriented people everywhere and the wreckage of an airliner. From there the show weaved a complex mystery where every answer to a question only encouraged more questions. Viewers like myself, postulated as to the true nature of the island — what the final mystery would reveal — speculate on events that happened on the show — significance of scenes or clues. You didn’t just watch this show. No, you were invested.
LOST was more than a TV show. It was a journey; and I was on it right alongside the crash survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. Everyone was bewildered and looking for answers to the mysteries of the strange and extraordinary remote island that we were all stranded on. Each answer to a question unveiled new mysteries. We cheered with the triumphs of these characters, and cried with each character death as if we lost a dear old friend. For me, LOST has become the benchmark to which I measure every dramatic concept show henceforth. The show has been off the air for years now, but it’s legacy on pop-culture will be as timeless and profound as the island itself.
*Never seen the show? Check out this awesome fan made trailer of the entire series:
I just finished watching the series fully again for the 5th time. But after watching that Series Montage video, I’m already looking forward to next summer when I’ll watch it all over again!
THROWBACK: OH WHAT FUN IT WAS! The LOST Finale Party!
On May 23rd, 2010 we threw a LOST Finale Party with some of our friends who were also HUGE fans of the show. We went a little crazy with the party theme! Lol.
I can’t wait to see what we do for The Walking Dead finale!! Speaking of which…
LOST vs THE WALKING DEAD
: Redemption vs Damnation
The second program that I have an incredible affinity towards, is AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD. As I was already a huge fan of the comic book, having read some 60 issues before the TV show even debuted in October of 2010, I was already hooked just by watching the promotional material. So what do these two fine programs have in common? Well, aside from the banner pic above of me shrieking in fear and running away like a big fuzzy coward, both programs deal with changing relationships based on environment. That, more than all other elements, is what really intrigues me the most about both LOST and THE WALKING DEAD. These are normal people, perhaps somewhat flawed, that are altered tremendously once they are thrust into incredibly extraordinary life changing circumstances.
With a mysterious island, clandestine connections, polar bears, electromagnetism, time travel, Others, and a Smoke Monster – LOST was certainly a winning achievement in science fiction. But the true breadth and weight of its story had less to do with those spectacular conventions, and had more to do with the evolution and transformation of its flawed characters. In the course of 6 seasons weak characters became strong, the selfish became selfless, the sinners found redemption, and the misguided found direction and purpose. To me, that was the real story that the writers of the show were trying to convey – which is often why I get frustrated when people get too hung up on inconsequential details. What was the island? What was the Smoke Monster? How is Jacob immortal? Although fun to speculate the answers, it isn’t the most important elements of the show. For me, Sawyer and Sayid redeeming themselves of their past sins, or Kate returning to help someone rather than having a fugitive life on the run, these were the story elements that truly captivated me.
On the flipside, THE WALKING DEAD takes place in a world that has been overrun by the living dead – or zombies. It is a world where all normal social conventions have completely disappeared. The re-animated corpses of the dead can kill the living, which makes it incredibly hard to go to school, or work, or to the movies. All communication with the outside world has stopped, and those left living must fend for themselves in a disturbed nightmare. But above all else, the dissolution of the law has created a state of barbarism amongst the survivors. In a world with no rules or order, where they have seen their loved ones perish at the hands of mobs or relentless unreasoning and blood-thirsty monsters, these people are quickly embracing chaos and courting the darker elements of the human condition.
Imagine a world where all of the rules and conventions and order that were firmly engrained in your society was gone in an instant. The new world is one of constant peril and a struggle for survival against the reanimated dead — merciless and unconscionable bloodthirsty monsters of chaos brought about by a virus that turns living people into monsters with a single bite. In this world death means you become one of these beasts and add to the ever expanding population of the undead. One lowly Sheriff’s deputy tries to lead a rag tag group of people to safety and survival; battling the undead, other sociopathic living threats, and the turmoil of slowly losing members of their own group to the zombies.
The Walking Dead is a fantastic character-driven story. The audience cares for these nomadic survivors. We cringe when they are being attacked, and sympathize when they are killed. We are along for the ride in discovering the new rules of chaos in this post-apocalyptic world.
Where LOST demonstrated the absolution and redemption of its main characters, THE WALKING DEAD illustrates the deterioration of a rotting society and the disappearance of humanity…literally.