Asking what is the best television series is like asking what is the best color. It is subjective, and what is the right answer for one viewer may be way off base for the next. That is why there is so much variety in television. However, there is one current television series that stands above all others. Not everyone loves it, but everyone has to at least admit that it is smart television. It is a show filled with drama, mystery, intrigue, and comic relief. It has the power to make its audience sit on the edge of their seats anticipating what will come next. It is mesmerizing and smart, with as much drama as Dawson’s Creek and as much mystery as Twin Peaks. It is the show everyone is talking about on Thursday mornings. The show I am referring to is, of course, LOST.
A new dawn in television. In the past, television dramas have had interlocking story lines where one major story permeates throughout the life of the series. Series such as The X-Files and Twin Peaks did this superbly, taunting viewers week after week with clues to the over-arching mystery. LOST is a series in this vein. However, what makes LOST different is that there are really no stand alone episodes. A viewer must have watched season one in order to truly understand all subsequent seasons. The writers expect that the viewers have been watching from the beginning. Many past series have been hesitant to go as far as LOST has because a potential viewer might be doubtful about starting to watch during season 5, knowing he has to go back and watch all four preceding series to truly understand the show. But this is just one more thing that makes LOST great.
A simple yet complex plot. The plot of the series is very simply, several plane crash survivors find themselves on an island awaiting rescue. They come to find out the island has some very mysterious qualities and they are not the only ones there. That’s it! But the true question is, what is the island? It is not just an island. It has the power to heal, to make sick, to give life and to take it away. The mysterious properties of the island are seemingly endless and timeless. And who are the others that live on the island? Through five seasons the most loyal viewers still cannot answer these questions.
Educated writers. While watching LOST one gets the feeling that these writers know everything about everything! The allusions in this series are endless. There are biblical allusions to such things as Adam and Eve, Jacob, Purgatory, Jesus, The Virgin Mother. There are allusions to ancient Egyptian cultures such as Horus, Anubis, the ankhe – symbol of life, hieroglyphics on the temple wall. There are even allusions to suggest the island is connected to The Lost City of Atlantis. There are allusions to philosophers, literary characters and authors in the character’s names, John Locke, Sawyer, Juliet, Christina Shepherd. The lists of allusions are endless. These allusions create mystery and intrigue. Was the island connected to Egyptian culture somehow? Is the island a biblical place? Is it a mythical place?
Drama. The show has drama. It has relationship drama, love triangles, mother-child issues, daddy issues, friendships, enemies, sickness, birth, death, and so much more. Many viewers watch for the mystery to unravel, but many other watch for the drama. To whom will Kate profess her love? Will Rose and Barnard make it through the show intact and healthy? Can Sayid find companionship? Will Hurley’s luck ever change? The characters are real and we as viewers see ourselves in them. There is the reluctant leader, the believer, and the dreamer. There is the scientist and the theologian. There are the love birds and the volatile. There is the liar and the sage. We find ourselves rooting for some and hating others, but the following week, all of that could change!
Science fiction. Though the series is typically referred to as a drama, there is plenty for the sci-fi fan to sink his teeth into. There’s the mysterious black smoke monster. The island’s electromagnetic qualities have a sci-fi feel. Death seems to be a temporary state on this island for some people. And the island itself is able to communicate with a chosen few. Jacob, the name used to describe a man (or possibly an entity) that is in control of the island, is mysterious and mystical. And there is the addition of time travel in the latest seasons. The thing about LOST is that is sucks you in with its drama and then it keeps you there through the science fiction, whether you are a fan of this genre or not.
Comic relief. The show is not without its comedy. Hurley is one character who often provides some comic relief. Lovable and loyal, this character is the one most likely to come out with a witty one-liner that makes viewers smile. Charlie, in the earlier seasons, provided a spring board for Hurley’s comic relief, while in later seasons it seems Miles has been placed as a foil to Hurley’s silliness. There are few laugh-out-loud moments, the show is after all a drama, but there is certainly enough light-hearted scenes to keep the heavy mystery from getting too heavy for viewers!
Mystery. The one thing that keeps viewers coming back week after week is the mystery. There are questions on top of questions and the answers usually lead to more questions. Viewers tune in for the promise of answers to long awaited mysteries only to find that those answers create more mystery. It is ingenious! Just enough is given to keep people satisfied, and just enough is kept hidden to keep people watching. Sometimes something you noticed in season one pops up as an answer to a mystery in season four. It makes things difficult for a viewer who has not been watching from the beginning, but it also makes the series so intriguing to those who have. Avid fans will watch each episode very closely to be sure not to miss anything. Many fans, myself included, have watch the entire known series from season one through season five more than one time through!
Theories upon theories. I cannot think of another show, past or current, that has been discussed, debated, and theorized more than LOST. If you look up LOST theories on any search engine, hundreds of results will pop up, each complete with research and ‘proof.’ Each week LOST fans come up with new possibilities to solve the mystery of the island. Some have been outright denied by LOST’s creators but most are possibilities. The ingenious of the show is evident in the fact that one fan can prove his theory beyond a shadow of a doubt while the next can disprove it just as easily.
LOST is not a show for everyone. The people who love it, love it whole heartedly and will never miss an episode. People who are not fans have likely just failed to give the show a chance. I myself stopped watching in the middle of season two with the excuse that it was too focused on character stories and was forgetting about the mystery at hand. But sometime during season three I was hooked again and began to realize that when the end game is already in the minds of the writers, build-up is necessary, and that explained season two’s character flashbacks. The show is smart and exciting. If you are not a fan of LOST, rent season one and get ready to become absorbed in the best current television series.