Remember That Time On LOST When: You Realized LOST Changed How We Watch TV?
[Remember That Time On LOST is a daily post running the entire month up until the season premiere of LOST on February 2nd. I’m going to just pick something awesome, noteworthy, or ludicrous about LOST when I wake up that morning, and hopefully get you geeks talking about it with me.]
I was originally going to title this one “Remember That Time On LOST When: You Realized The Show sucked?” but I balked because I felt it was a bit unfair. If the show didn’t suck, at the very least, the show has changed how we watch television, and also our expectations for how narratives are structured on a weekly basis. It marked a change from the weekly serial to something that seems intended to be ingested at three or four episodes at a time for maximum enjoyment. I know people who refuse to watch the show save for on DVD, and while I’m a glutton for the weekly satisfaction, they may actually be correct.
The beginning of LOST was a slow boil that emphasized character driven episodes with very little occurring on the Island. My less intellectual side calls it “really fucking boring” and “the shit that we waded through to get to the awesomeness of later in the series.” And to an extent, I still feel that way. However, if you go back and watch the show on DVD, the drudgery is mitigated quite a bit. It isn’t nearly as boring, because as soon as one episode ends, you’re able to keep chugging along. Nothing happens? No big deal, next episode.
This is in contrast to the feeling of watching it while it was airing. I’d like to describe the feeling of watching the first few seasons as they aired as this:
WHAT THE FUCK, THEY JUST SPENT AN ENTIRE EPISODE WALKING ACROSS THE ISLAND?
WHAT THE FUCK, THEY JUST SPENT AN ENTIRE EPISODE MAKING A GOLF COURSE?! YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FUCKING SHITTING ME.
LOST is one of the first television shows I can remember thinking worked better on DVD, simply because of the pace of the narrative. In fact, it seems to the extent that the writers may even have been conscious of how their show was being watched. Maybe they realized that people were consuming it en masse through DVD, and they felt less of an onus to give instant gratification every week. This show has been the tantric sex of television; we’ve been in the Masquerading Goat or some shit for six years, and we’re just finally about to rocket our loads and squirt our squirty stuff. Whatever that fluid is called.
So with the advent of viewers watching television shows four or five episodes at a time, writers seem more comfortable crafting storylines out over a longer period of actual time, since for most, the next episode may be no further than a remote click away. It’s allowed the characters to be fleshed out, before they were rocketed off on the the temporal mind-fuck that the show has become.
Or conversely, maybe the show has actually changed how we watch television out of necessity, since we can’t stand to be given the minuscule amount of information every week. Either way, we’ve shifted towards watching things large chunks at a time, as opposed to the serial method.
I could be wrong.
As well, LOST is also a show that has lent to the viewers the desire to rewatch the show, again exploiting the use of DVD or DVR. LOST is a fucking shitload of mythos and mysteries for anyone to carry around in their head at any one time. And let’s be honest, it’s been six years since we watched Oceanic 815 explode above the Dharma barracks, and there’s so much that’s occurred across so long a period of time, that must of it has rotted in our cortexes and shit.
LOST is the first show that I’ve actively wanted to rewatch just to understand how everything is tying together. It is such a dense show that rewinding and reexamining certain scenes and flashes upon the screen has become usual, for many people.
How many times has something popped up on the screen for but an instant, and you screamed out, “Oh shit! Rewind that!”. Really, LOST is the first show that’s made the rewind button a necessary button on my grimy, food-encrusted controller.
The show has turned the viewer into voracious scavengers. We’re all trying to connect dots, most of them leading to nowhere but false ends. But because anything and everything seems to be of such tremendous significance, we want to see the writing on every chalkboard, understand the dialogue from any Dharma videotape.
We’ve become active participants in the show, and it is through DVR and DVD that we have rewatched countless scenes. I’m that asshole friend of yours going, “Dude, wait, go back!”
And along with that, it has allowed people to become purveyors of knowledge. References to philosophers, physicists, ancient goddesses and other crazy shit. It’s engaged us at so many levels, and allowed a level of scrutiny and hypothesis that you don’t usually get in a television show. It has literally transcended the medium of television and spilled into alternate reality games, enormous sprawling wiki pages, heated, profanity-filled rants on Ventrillo, and other shit.
The show has changed how I watched TV, and it has influenced other TV shows to follow suit with dense mythos and mysteries, and slower, character-build storylines that are more palatable spread across four-episodes when you get to watch them on the ‘ole digital video disc. It’s gotten people interested in philosophers, weird physics shit that I’m sure the writers butcher and I comprehend even less, and really interacting as a community. It’s gotten me flattening my rewind button from over-use, and paying attention to every conversation and setting as if I’m going to find the recipe for the elixir of life, whether that’s wrong or not.
It’s changed me, man.