12 August 2005

Lost, Not In Space

I watched the double-length pilot episode of Lost last night. At present I haven't read any spoilers for the series whatosever, so the following is a reaction to it completely in isolation. I don't imagine I'll be able to keep that up for long, though, so here, for the record, are those initial thoughts...

The interpersonal drama was all a bit dull and predictable, I thought, except for the odd behaviour of Daniel Dae Kim's character and the revelation that it's the bird-who-fancies-the-doctor who was actually the prisoner on the plane. The young-blonde-in-denial was becoming particularly irritating towards the end. This was compounded by the fact that hardly anybody's name seemed to be spoken, so that one was thinking of them as "the vaguely muslim-looking guy", "the sinister old guy", "the token fat guy" and so on.

Perhaps this is meant to make them seem more archetypal, though. Perhaps.

Furthermore, the setup is enormously contrived -- the plane being so comprehensively smashed up, while so many passengers and their luggage survive; the pilot surviving for long enough to hand out vital information; the menacing sounds in the woods; even the inevitable "one of us is not to be trusted" dynamic.

Charitably, it seems to me that there's going to turn out to be a reason for this (although probably not for the clich├ęd behaviour of the characters themselves). Perhaps it's having read a Guardian article which compares the series's premise with that of the reality show Survivor, but I couldn't help thinking -- even before the polar bear turned up -- that this was not a "real" environment. I don't imagine that it's actually a virtual reality, but it seems pretty clear that someone is stage-managing everything. (Either that or all the above is just a symptom of poor writing.)

So far we have a wreck on an isolated island due to bad weather, and the revelation of another plane-crash sixteen years earlier. Plus, of course, an invisible monster in the undergrowth, which is probably intended to make us think of The Lost World, but put an altogether different association in my head.

So -- would I be going out on a limb if I suggested that future episodes may just possibly throw up an elderly castaway and his sixteen-year-old daughter living on the island? (It isn't clear at this point, incidentally, whether the sinister backgammon-playing old man was actually a passenger on the flight.) The only question is whether this character's mastery over the local environment -- which will naturally turn out to be responsible for both the plane-crash and the monster -- will derive from books of magic or giant banks of ancient alien machinery, and whether his sidekick will be an aery spirit or a cute robot.

So, the situation is intriguing, and possibly archetypal 'n' that, but the actual drama is, so far, bordering on the banal. Plus the English guy is rubbish. Perhaps I've been spoiled recently with watching proper quality drama like The West Wing and Firefly, but I'm not entirely sure Lost is going to keep my attention for long enough to deliver on its promise.

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