The Epic and the Saga

I know talking about the silver screen is paved with stars,  glitz and glamour, and watching the work of titans like James Cameron and Johnny Depp can be spectacles, but there are other modes of moving media that merit mention. This time, I am going to talk about television, and namely what I watch, and what I think you should watch or at least give a try watching.

Television is not what it used to be. It used to be all about sitcoms, the 30 minute to 1 hour stand alone episode that took you into the lives of a group of people for the day or two, and then you went away for a week back to your lives and forgot they ever existed. Shows like that existed for so long, and did so well when they were on the air. Today’s television is much different. No longer are shows like Everybody Loves Raymond and Cheers the only things on the T.V. Today, the small screen is a venue for some of the most ambitious and epic sagas human eyes have ever seen. These are the shows I am going to talk about in this post because these are the shows that most resemble the art of the silver screen while taking advantage of the small screen solenoid that sits in front of our couches.

Let’s talk about Lost. Only two words suffice when discussing this piece of art: epic and saga.

Lost is the epic of all epics in my opinion. It is a tightly woven story surrounding a handful of characters and artfully enweaves to create new knots that are more elaborate than the originals. The story is told through the eyes of several different characters and tells their story both on the island and off the island, which is a metaphor for something yet unknown. The plot unfolds to the score of dramatic orchestral music, and the acting is by far one of the most refined and balanced as far as television goes. You feel that if any of the characters were replaced by other actors, the show would not have been the same, and perhaps their whole perspective of what the message of the show is may be different. I feel that Lost is the epitome of “epicness” (if that is even a word, if it isn’t, it should be). Lost brings in the beauty of nature, the mystery of the unknown, the violence of evil, the power of love and hope, and the strength of power, and ties it into a tight package that delivers something greater than the sum of all its parts.

Lost is a show that you can’t really just get right into because of this however. So many times I’ve heard the excuse the people won’t watch Lost because they’ve heard that it takes too much time to get caught up. Despite that however, a dry run of Lost, without the back-story, without all the prior experiences with the characters and the plot twists that have brought them where they are in the story, the show is still one of the most well structured, moving, and dramatic shows on television, complete with tremendous acting, deeply written dialogue and stellar music.

To describe Lost as a saga requires looking at the plot more closely; really going into the conflicts in the show. The first season was about maintaining control amongst the passengers of Oceanic Flight 118. The battle for leadership between the shows two main protagonists of the season Jack Shepherd and Sawyer was one to behold, and reminded me a lot of “Lord of the Flies” a book about children who shipwrecked onto a deserted island whose leadership eventually developed into an evil regime rule. The second season features new characters and a different conflict between characters. The introduction of The Others, the emergence of Locke, and Benjamin Linus, perhaps the most scheming and conniving character television has ever seen are all elements that bring depth to an already thick storyline. Further seasons bring new characters with even greater arches that span vastly large timelines, and sagas expand and multiply as the epic grows.

The show has been criticized as being too thick at times, and convoluted in the way it never answers the questions posed by its viewers, but that it the experience of Lost. People say the same thing about classic Coen Brothers movies, and they too are considered two of the most prolific filmmakers of current times.

What I really enjoy about Lost is its ability to create discussion around the show. The show doesn’t end after the credits roll; rather, people talk about what happened, develop theories and ring the show to life. No longer are families talking about shows on the couch, but also talking about them at the dinner table, at work, or in the library. I’ve heard on the bus so many times people say “OMG did you see Lost yesterday?” I think what separates Lost from the rest of television at the moment is its ability to capture diehard fans that respect the show. Before this season begun, which is he concluding season to the show, the premier was leaked online, but rather than people downloading and watching it before the day it was meant to be seen, fans respected the show and waited until the show actually came out. It’s this fact that separates Lost from other shows, the magnitude of the experience. The experience of watching something unravel, picking out the important elements and piecing them together to create a better visualization of what the show is trying to say; but knowing that millions of people across the continent are doing the exact same thing at the same time as you; and knowing that each puzzle that comes together will be different from the person’s next to you until the final end credits roll on this breathtaking adventure of a television series. This is why Lost is Lost, and why all other television shows that try to emulate this have failed.

Simply put, Lost is the best thing on television right now, and it ranks up when looking at the history of television because of the quality of the show. Its ability to morph and harmonize completely different themes while maintaining much of its original fan-base is something to commend. Supplant a new kind of drama into primetime television is what makes Lost special. Lost brings the spectacle of film to the small screen, merging everything that makes good pieces of literature, captivating photography, mystique of mythology and the drama and action present in blockbuster films and ties it together into a tight little package that takes 6 years to open. The reason why Lost is successful is mystery behind the story; however, why Lost is as successful as it is is no mystery at all.

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