Friday, March 14, 2008

Best Television Show...Ever?

Okay, "Firefly" just got left behind on my list for the best television show ever. It only lasted 13 episodes anyway.

The winner and new champion is..."Lost." Last night's episode was simply brilliant. If you don't know about "Lost," I'm not going to tell you about it. There's nothing I could tell you in a few thousand words that would do it justice. I've heard people describe it by asking, "Isn't that the show about the plane crash?" Yes, just as the entire history of the world's space programs is about Sputnik.

Today's television shows are almost as predictable as an episode of Scooby Doo, but without the wacky hijinks. Between three Law & Orders, three CSIs (plus an NCIS), and the oh-so-different Cold Case, Without a Trace, Numb3rs, and the like, Lost is a breath of fresh air. Law & Order even gives blurbs about the "Law & Order twist," like it's something unusual. What, the perp is guilty or not guilty? You can flip a coin and be as surprised by the result. "House" is pretty good, but it still boils down to a simple formula. Sick person comes in, House calls everyone idiots, and either cures the person or doesn't. I guess the next closest thing to a good show is "Battlestar Galactica," but I'm pretty sure Galactica jumped the shark last season by revealing that half the main characters were actually Cylons. They had me, then they lost me.

Don't even get me started on "reality" shows. The only one I watch is Major League Baseball.

No, Lost is something else entirely. Each episode reveals a little more about the vast mystery that is The Island, and each revelation opens up a dozen new questions. Between compelling storytelling techniques, complex characters, and true plot twists, Lost is a novel told in episodic form...only better.


Michael O'Connell said...

HELLZ yeah...

What drives me insane is the people who haven't watched it yet, and, particularly, their really dumb reasons for not doing so. I got a guy at work. I mention Lost to him, and he quickly jumps into his obviously oft-used rant. "Know why I refuse to watch that show? There's that fat guy on the show, right? And they're trapped on an island? He never loses weight! Dumb show, won't watch it." Sigh. I tried to explain to him that a) in Lost continuity, they've only actually been on the island for like a couple or three months, and 2) there is actually is food there. But while he looked fearful for a moment of his favorite diatribe falling apart, he quickly clung to it and scoffed. Ah, well.

Other people have said that they turned on the show once and tried it, but got confused so they stopped watching. you pick up a novel and start reading in the middle and expect to understand everything? People are too used to Law and Order TV...self-contained episodes that you can pick up any time. Some people prefer their shows that way, and that's fine. Me? I like a show with a huge, sweeping story, lots of clues that all add up over time, lots of sub-plots and sub-sub plots, loads of character development... Because of all that, I'm right there with you on Lost. I don't know if I can pick a "best show ever" without putting a lot more thought into it than I have time for right now, but it may well be, and is definitely one of the major finalists. LOVE THIS SHOW.

Your description of a "televised novel", by the way, is how someone sold me on The Wire, which I'm just starting the third season of via Netflix. Same kind of thing. Sooo much going on, sooo many characters to follow. It's story, and a world, to just immerse yourself in. And it's brilliantly written and made. Like Lost? It doesn't treat me like an idiot. I've literally had to turn on the subtitles to get all the cop/drug/waterfront-union-guy talk that's not dumbed down in the slightest, just so I can understand what the hell they said. And I love it!

As I was just telling Tim? I'm sad to say last night's big surprise got spoilerized for me at Comic-Con. They suddenly brought that certain actor on stage at the panel and said that he/she (don't want to spoilerize anyone here)would be returning. Ah, well. Still brilliant. God, I love a TV show in this day and age that can actually surprise me and give me things I didn't see coming...and Lost does this over, and over, and over...

Martin said...

I hate to admit it to you guys - Mike and Jim - but I'm one of those folks who doesn't watch "Lost". Why? I certainly like large, sweeping arc dramas. Heck, I'm a bonafide card carrying "Heroes" fanatic, even after some of the horrid stuff in season 2 (like those siblings from South America). I guess I don't do "Lost" because I missed out on the beginning. Now, sure, I could go buy the DVDs - but if I don't like it then I'm out the cash. I could rent them - save on the money to see if I like it. However, being this far behind I would have a lot to catch up and time is such a premium for me lately. No, I guess I'll just have to live in my ignorance. I'm glad you guys enjoy the show though.

Jim McClain said...

You can watch them at, Martin. Streaming video, with a few short commercials. No risk, no fuss, no waiting.

I'd spend a season watching Lost instead of, god forbid, an hour of American Idol. By the accuracy of your predictions, you already know each week who is going to lose!

Michael O'Connell said...

That is a great "Hmm, let me just try a couple" option, Martin, but I sympathize with you. There are a lot of shows I'd like to try, but I already have so little "watch" time and so many things I'd like to watch, and that other people want me to try (Tim has been pushing me fanatically on "Jericho" for a year now), that there are just some things that aren't going to make the cut. Plus I don't do a fraction of the reading that you do (and I should)...AND I don't have the wife and kid situation you and Jim do. Jim mentioned "House". So many people are telling me I "must", and it sounds great...but it would take a lot of time for me to catch up and...well, you know the story. You will take no crap for me for not getting on the bandwagon. But as Jim said...if you get a little curious and want to see if it speaks to you and don't want any muss or fuss, will do ya. It's so you, because it's like Survivor...but with guns! :) I still need to find time for "Entourage" one of these days. That sounds so totally me. Stupid day job!! Cutting into my TV time. Can I go back to college and living with my mom rent free again?

Okay, maybe not...

Do I have to pay Jim some kind of fee for using his blog to chat with Martin?

Martin said...

Jim, ouch. Low blow. ;)

Yes, I watch Idol - have with dedication since season 2. Some view it as fluff, no talent-TV. I don't see that. For me, it takes me back to the old variety shows of the 70's or watching "Lawrence Welk" every Sunday at my grandmothers (yes, I admit that freely - I liked that show). Music just does that to me.

I'll consider taking a look at the streams. Hope they're better than the ones FOX and CBS had. I tried watching shows on those in the past and it sucked.

Martin said...

Mike, I hear you - time is a precious commodity all the way around. When the Writers' Strike hit, I took that as an opportunity to read more - which I had not been doing. Now that I'm doing it, I like books again. I go in waves. This new author I'm into - Robert B. Parker - he's got at least three series, the Spenser one being the longest with 30+ books. So, even here I'm staring at a big pile. But if books inspire me to write more (which, again, I don't have enough time to do), then all the better.

I do agree that there is never enough time to do everything one wants to do. I keep up with my music quests for iPod well enough. But I have nine DVD-ROMs of Marvel Comics calling to me all the time, I'm way behind on my Showcase Presents and Essential reading, I haven't done any product parody images in forever and dozens of TV shows on DVD already that I should watch. Someday when I retire and have ten more free hours a day to work with.

Can you imagine what we would have done in our youth with all this available to us thanks to technology, etc.? We never would have gotten anything done! I know I wouldn't have.

I miss summer vacations (sounds like a good blog topic to do in a few months...).