Sunday, May 07, 2006

So Channel 4 showed the first three episodes of season two of Lost this week, the first two on C4, the third on E4 which gets repeated next week on the terrestrial channel before episode 4 goes out on satellite. I really don't understand why Channel 4 shows multiple episodes, not just with Lost but often with other shows they're promoting as well. Multiple episodes over their different channels, fine (though I assume they never intend to show the last two seasons of The West Wing on their terrestrial channel) but why more than two episodes on one night? I must say that I'm glad they did so, as to have to wait a week to see the same scene again will be really annoying for people who don't have access to E4 or the Torrents.

I sort of like Lost from the point of view of looking how they create the stories. I like it a hell of a lot less as a viewer, as very little happens and almost nothing is ever sorted out because it would require any of the writers to have an idea what they are doing. Remove the flashbacks and you have a bunch of people with a curious form of short-term memory damage, where old scores matter more than current dangers.

The first three episodes have the same scene happen three times. What would have been good was if events had been organised so that viewers see each time differently, with more information colouring their perception. Common sense would have suggested it be filmed from different angles for each time at least. Unfortunately the Lost production team don't seem to consider this, so each time we just get the scene again. Twice may be just acceptable, but three times? Seeing as the scene climax is the same in both the first and second episode, it suggests that someone was snoozing in the editing suite and could have done with being jettisoned from the second episode entirely.

And what do we have? Well, it's another real-world reason why the island exists, as opposed to they're all dead or it's all Locke's dream or one of Walt's comic books. We have someone that bumped into Jack a few years ago and a clock that must be reset every 100 minutes. Unfortunately, after three hours (or, considering this is down the bottom of that shaft that we saw at the end of the first season, a year and three episodes) the vagueness of this is just irritating. We have a nutter and a training film, that says the hole in the ground is run by a company run by psychologists. No-one knows what will happen when the clock runs out. The nutter legs it. Will the island explode? Will nerve gas be released? Will David Blaine's oxygen supply be cut off? No-one knows. So the crisis comes down to will they continue resetting the clock, which is what Locke wants to do, or do nothing, which is the position Jack takes. With some sense of the consequences of inaction this might turn out to be an almost interesting dilemma, but instead it's crazy old Locke with his hunches and complete disregard for the opinions of anyone else but himself, versus one of the few guys who actually tries to help other people on the island. Jack's capitulation to Locke to keep this up may be explained later on as a clever plan to keep Locke occupied, as it stands right now it looks like Jack also believes that despite absolutely no proof there is some threat they have to avert.

The other storyline is Mike and Sawyer versus the shark. With their boat blown apart by the Others they spend an episode on a slowly disintegrating raft bickering with one another. It is incredibly dull and not even finding excuses to get them into the water to be menaced by stock footage of a shark livens things up any. Although they need a raft to get back to the Island Jin vanishes when the boat explodes and is waiting for them when they return, where they are captured by more Others. Quite why the first lot of Others didn't take them prisoner or this new lot of Others doesn't kill them on sight is, like the question of what happened to Jin, not broached. The highlight of the third episode is them spending all their time in a pit, Sawyer revealing he has another gun hidden about his person and the Others taking it. I'm looking forward to similar such scenes throughout the series, 20 minutes of a character washing their hair, 15 minutes of Charlie trimming his toenails. The big cliffhanger: Is he getting a hangnail?

The flashbacks are still here. Despite the fact that 90% of the time they are completely irrelevent we've still got them or there wouldn't be a show. It's not like you could have Lost in realtime, a la 24 could you? Episode one has Jack agonising over a patient that will be crippled but isn't, episode two is Mike fighting with Walt's mum in court over his custody and three is Locke getting laid and being obsessive about his Dad and his stolen kidney. The problem is, we either know where these stories are going or we don't care. We know Mike doesn't see Walt for years. We don't care that Locke was as much of a dick before the Island as on it. While Kate, Sawyer and Sun and Jin's flashbacks are interesting, because there's a progression there, most of the time they are yet another time-wasting device to get us through the gaps between ads.

I'm finding it really difficult to care about any of the characters or their situation. I'm fairly sure the producers plan is how to get through to the end of the season while telling the least story possible (here's an idea, have Charlie fall into a coma and then do a clips show!). I'll probably give it another week or two and then decide whether to kick it.


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