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September 30, 2004

Review: ABC's "Lost"

Lately I've been watching one of ABC's new shows, "Lost," on Wednesday nights. There have only been two episodes so far, which was actually the pilot episode split into two 1-hour pieces. I figured I would write down some of my thoughts into a mini-review. I won't give any spoilers.

The premise of the series is simple: A airliner inexplicably breaks apart mid-air and crashes on a desolate tropical island. There are numerous survivors who struggle to get their bearings and cope with their environment until they can be rescued. That's basically the entire plot, except for the added drama of some sort of beast that inhabits the island -- seen by the characters but only heard by the audience. It's clear that the show would never take off based on its simplistic plot elements alone. "Lost" instead focuses distinctly on character development. Its case is also helped by the high-budget production values: The picture is simply gorgeous in high definition and the sound is well-produced in 5.1 surround, a rare treat on network television. The $5 million pilot episode has the feel a Hollywood film. I suppose all the money they spent on special effects in this episode will be recovered by the fact that future episodes won't require many sets to be built.

Back to the character development. "Lost" spends nearly all 2 hours of its pilot episode partially introducing the characters while still holding enough back to make room for new surprises in the future. The characters are indeed compelling, but the time spent introducing them leads to a very slow pace of the pilot. It also doesn't help that seemingly 40 minutes of those 2 hours are spent in commercials. Hopefully once we know the characters better in future episodes, the plot can take a slightly faster pace. However, despite these flaws I'm still left with a positive impression of the show due to the depth being hashed out in the characters. An exciting plot with vacuous characters would be far worse.

One thing that bothers me is the behavior of the characters after the crash. Their primary concerns seem to be food and finding a radio transponder. No mention is ever made of obtaining fresh water, and although they clearly aren't acting thirsty, no source of fresh water is ever visible on-screen, except for a few leftover water bottles from the airplane and a brief rainfall. There also does not seem to be much interest in finding shelter. Instead the characters spend their days and nights lying on the beach. Although it's plausable that in a real life situation, people might be too stupid to realize the proper priorities at first -- after one full day anyone would feel the need for water and shelter.

It's too early to tell whether the show will be good or not. The first episode was engrossing albeit lackadaisical in pace. If it does turn out well, the cause will surely be the depth of the characters and their interactions. The only question remaining is if there is enough plot material available to make a full season or more out of the premise.

Posted by davemoore at September 30, 2004 5:22 PM


the pilot only covered roughly the first day after the crash. supposedly, each episode will cover roughly 24/48 hours. accordingly, - they aren't yet "too stupid" to have their priorities straight...

Posted by: libby at October 6, 2004 11:35 AM

I love the show. I've been watching Lost and Desperate Housewives enough that I had to great forums for the shows on my site.


They just covered the water issue in a recent episode. Each episode covers 2 days. So, it's still pretty early for them to get their acts together. You could always say it's pretty chaotic. Not to mention that they have to deal with creatures on the island :P

Posted by: spyder at October 27, 2004 4:32 AM

You know that all the characters on "Lost" are dead but don't know it yet, right?

Posted by: JASPER at November 13, 2004 10:25 AM