Friday, February 23, 2007

Yet More Brilliance from Dezdemona

In the "Didn't Love It" thread (SiaSL episode) on the Fuselage, Dezdemona has put the smack-down of all smack-downs on TPTB. She effectively and eloquently called them on their incompetence bullshit and lack of direction, and perfectly articulated the frustration that 99.999% of Lost fans feel, but couldn't quite express. Not this perfectly, anyway.

OH, how I hope someone prints this out and lays it on Damon & Carlton's desks - - this is one memo they NEED to get!

And I quote:


I've had the impression for awhile now that TPTB are really out of touch with their audience, and after this episode I'm absolutely convinced of it. I don't want to offend them or anyone else, and this is just my opinion, but I think they have completely lost sight of why any of us fell in love with this show in the first place and the result is that they're coming at everything backwards. This results in a tail-wagging-the-dog effect and, frankly, I'm fed up with staring at the dog's rear end.

I LOVE the original characters that I crashed on this island with in the pilot episode. I feel for them, identify with them, root for them, and care about them and about THEIR well-being and prospects for survival/rescue. That's PARAMOUNT to me. I care about everything else only insofar as it affects/mystifies/threatens those characters. IMO, never, EVER losing sight of that should be the show's "Prime Directive". In fact, it should be the ONLY directive.

Yes, I'm intrigued by the spooky, dangerous and mysterious island because it's where my people live, because it contains threats to their very existence and mysteries they need to solve. I was captivated from the outset by the idea of solving them alongside the characters, almost like a shadow participant in a really cool video game being designed and played by the Lost team of writers, cast and crew. However, without its meaning to MY people, the island would be like a video game with no players. By itself, the island is just a landscape, not a show, and I wouldn't give a damn about it or about any of the peripheral characters on it. It's the interaction between my group of characters and the island that makes the island important to me, the interaction between my group and the Others that makes the Others important to me. I want to solve the riddles because they need to. The pivot and the POV is always my original group.

SOME new characters MAY become new members of my group, such as Danielle, Desmond and (long before I met her) Alex. Some never will, no matter how much the writers might want them to, and I put Ana and Libby in that category - Ana was unpalatable and Libby was bland and had no story. OTOH, Bernard had a free pass via Rose, and Eko had a potent redemption story.

We were told S3 would be about the Others, that the writers were aiming to change our perspective about them. I was up for that and open to the possibility that a couple of them might become new members of my group too. However, we are NINE episodes into the season, almost half way, and I STILL have no contextual basis on which to identify with or judge/categorize/evaluate the Others at all. None. (Except for Juliet, who may or may not become somebody I care about like my original group.) We already knew the Others were violent and barbaric. It turns out they had a better wardrobe than we thought. So what? Every week, I meet more and more of them and care less and less because I have NO CONTEXT for anything they're doing, no way to get a handle on who the hell they are and why they behave as they do. If TPTB want me to care or even be interested, I need CONTEXT, not this ridiculous evavisive and badly-written STALLING that I've been getting. I cared about the original Losties because I could easily identify with "crashed, stranded and scared". It's why I felt for Desmond and Danielle as well. I need the equivalent context for the Others, and all I've been getting instead is "Neener-neener, we know but we're not telling you." Pfft!

The question I want answered is what the hell makes them tick? And I'm more than fed up with everything about that being cloaked in mystery. THAT'S the least interesting thing about them to me because I neither know them as individuals nor give a crap about them as a group. What I do care about is how their problem or purpose or whatever-the-hell-it-is will affect/hurt/help MY GROUP. (Note: See Prime Directive.) THAT should have been the substance of the season, IMO. Instead, not only do I not know how my group will be affected, but half of MY GROUP have actually been bloody displaced from the show by this new and ever-increasing bunch of people that I'm learning nothing substantive about episode after episode. !!!!!!!

What were TPTB thinking? "Let's take our hit show, with characters people have come to love and replace about half of it with a different show, featuring a bunch of people the fans have barely seen and have reason NOT to like... and let's NOT tell them why they should care about these new people that have shoved their favorites right off the screen." Okaaaay. Is anybody unclear why it's not working very well? (Again, IMO.)

Last night's episode was horrible, even for what it tried to be. It was badly written, from start to finish and that led to stumbles in the directing and acting departments as well. (IMO) We were given no clue at what point in his life Jack decided to traipse off to Thailand to "find" himself and fly kites he couldn't build. I'm also curious who he supposedly honed his poker skills with, the kid on the beach or the skanky Thai girl with the "gift"? And speaking of Achara, the girl who supposedly sees "what people really are", I am so freakin' fed up with being TOLD by this show that Jack is a "leader" and a "great man". He did a noble thing in bargaining for Kate and Sawyer to get away, but since he knowingly led them into a trap without giving them vital information they had a right to in the first place, I figure he actually owed them a save if he could pull it off. And for the rest, Jack's supposed road to greatness seems to be paved with women he stalks, intimidates and yells at. It makes for a hell of an unappealing "hero". Color me turned off and continuously baffled by the choice of this unattractive character as the show's pivot point.

This episode also had some of the laziest writing I've seen on this show. Poor Sawyer had so many one-liners and nicknames that he seemed like a caricature of himself, and that's happened a LOT this season. He's a fascinating character, played by a charismatic actor... and both deserve better. Kate, OTOH, was all over the place and I kept getting pulled out of the story just wondering if poor Evi even knew what Kate was supposed to be feeling/thinking. I don't blame Evi, I blame the script which carried "opaque" to new lengths, even for this character on this show. MF and EM managed to pull off the aloe-treatment scene fairly well, but I can't name one other scene I thought was strong in the whole episode. That's a first because I think the show has benefited right from the start from some of the best acting on TV. It astonishes me that a show with one of the most talented, charismatic and purely WATCHABLE casts ever put together would choose to put half of them on the back burner, for ANY reason, much less do it for what amounts to virtually a third of a season!

That brings me to another big issue I think TPTB are off about, (again just IMHO), i.e. their rigid determination to hold on to a story-telling device that has needed to be re-thought for a year now, i.e. the character-centric flash-back in every episode. A seventh flashback about Jack was almost doomed by definition. Unfortunately, I feel as though TPTB have made the mandatory character-centric flashback into THEIR Prime Directive. I think this devices is holding the show hostage and strangling it at this point. While admitting, themselves, that's it's gotten tired, TPTB's "fix" for this is to bring in more new characters for whom they can write fresh, first-time flashbacks. Really? That's another case of the tail wagging the dog. The flashbacks are a storytelling device, and they should serve the story rather than the other way around. Sacrificing story to form, and replacing characters I love with new ones they refuse to give me context for or reasons to care about is taking them farther and farther away from MY Prime Directive all the time.

I guess I'm frustrated at the concept level now, not just with the execution. I feel as though TPTB have lost all sense of how to build "mystery and intrigue" into the show, so they're just making EVERYTHING a mystery to cover all their bases: who the Others are, where they came from; what their purpose is; why they're so violent but believe themselves to be "good"; who's the father of Sun's baby, whom Kate loves, why the Others are interested in children, the Black Rock, the "sickness" and on and on, ad infinitum. Frustration +++

Hence, and somewhat to my surprise, all the cutsie meta stuff in this episode just irritated the hell out of me, even though I know it was meant to amuse. I don't watch a lot of network television, and I certainly don't watch bad television. IMO this last episode was really bad television. The ONLY reason I'll be tuning back in next weeek is because - to quote myself -

I LOVE the original characters that I crashed on this island with in the pilot episode. I feel for them, identify with them, root for them, and care about them and about THEIR well-being and prospects for survival/rescue.

That's my rant. LOST, my Sweet, you have been absolutely awesome at times, but even the best foreplay leads to chafing if it's endless - you know? It's time to show me what else you've got before I get ticked off enough to kick you out of bed!


Brilliance. Sheer, utter, and total brilliance.

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