I lost two hours of my life last night. That is both a very bad pun and the literal truth, for I watched two episodes of Lost on television, back to back. As well as forcing me to question my lifestyle choices, it also raised a fair few issues relevant, I think, to modern cinema. Yes, yes, it’s a TV show, but it is certainly the bastard son of 1970s B Movies and 1990s mainstream action films.
My main problem while watching was that I was, and am, gripped by it. It is a bad show in many ways. Just how far can a TV show expect an audience to suspend their disbelief? How many modelling agencies crash on desert Islands? How many of them have a token representative of the country America are currently bombing – especially one played by an actor who clearly isn’t of that same ethnic origin? How does a fat guy not lose weight after three weeks eating fish and fruit? (For overseas users, I must explain that in the UK the show has just passed the halfway point, and I don’t know what happens. Please don’t tell me). And how stupid must the audience be to be happily fed constant clichéd melodrama in flashback form? But that’s me, I am part of that audience, and I don’t think I’m stupid. How can I enjoy this programme?!
I tried to placate myself with the ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ idea. J.J. Abrams, co-creator of Lost, also wrote the screenplay for Armageddon (1998), and that also falls into that category. But is it, fellow bloggers, a valid category? Or is it made up by cinematic snobs who need to hide behind a veil to obscure the fact they like something they’re not supposed to?Here’s the thoughts of one user on IMDB “While some may say this is unrealistic and gimmicky, I maintain that this is a brave, bold choice for ABC and like other bold movies and shows, if given the chance it will change the art. I can't wait for next week.” I’d say the choice was the opposite of bold. It has, and must always have had, ‘big hit’ written all over it. And if it ‘changes the art’, then god help TV and cinema. I think my trouble with this style of filmmaking (I appreciate this is a 20-odd episodic TV show, but you only need to watch one episode to understand what it does and how it works) is that I don’t know if the filmmakers are assuming we are stupid, or are assuming that we are happy to suspend our disbelief to the extent of stupidity, in order to be entertained. And I was entertained. I just wasn’t proud of myself.