Sunday, November 18, 2007

Let's Get Meta...

I usually resist getting "meta" about Lost theorizing. Abstract discussions -- e.g., of which explanations are more faithful to the spirit of the show or what level of complexity the viewing audience will accept -- strike me as pretty pointless. But I've always believed that show would ultimately resemble a Michael Crichton novel (i.e., character driven with a nifty technological premise bordering on science fiction) even before Darlton said as much.

Think of a spectrum of possibilities. On one end is 2001:ASO, the ultimate ambiguous film, explaining almost nothing. On the other is the Matrix trilogy, which explains far too much using long scenes of ponderous explanatory dialogue. Crichton novels are right in the middle, offering complex explanations for the sci-fi elements without allowing them to overshadow the narrative -- just right, as Goldilocks might say. My hope and expectation is that Lost will occupy that same sweet spot...

19 comments:

capcom said...

So true Big! The time that they've allowed themselves to complete the story doesn't give much room for bloviated explanations. Altho I do wonder if the short time remaining will close enough of the hooks and traps that they've set out for us to notice and wonder about for six seasons. Let's hope that our Lost porridge is juuuust right like you said. So far that seems to be TPTBs intent.

capcom said...

P.S. When I linked to this post title, I thought that you were going to do a metaphysical take-off of the song "Let's Get Physical". :o)

P.S.S. I'm glad that I'm not the only one still left with questions about 2001. AND 2010!

Cool_Freeze said...

Lost is a legend to me already. Even if the final seasons are a total waste of my tv time..the show has already gone down in history in my mind.

The show has always seemed like a great novel and TPTB has done such a magnificent job of creating that sense.

CF

capcom said...

I agree CF. Even with the X-Files' dismal final seasons, the first 7 or so seasons will always remain one of, if the THE, favorite TV fiction of all time to me. The bad end couldn't take back all the creepy fun that I had with it up to that point.

Lost has been so great up to now, even if the end of last season bombs, I will still have enjoyed the ride very much.

And also all the friends that we've made thru it. :-)

Bigmouth said...

capcom: LOL! Let's get (meta)physical...(meta)physical...lemme see your brain cells talk, your brain cells talk! Yes, 2001: ASO is one of my favorite films of all time. Many of my questions were answered by Clarke's novelization of the film. It's just his take -- Kubrick refused to endorse the novelization -- but he was Kubrick's main collaborator on the script. I also like the explanations offered in Clarke's book 2010, and the film is actually pretty good despite the obsolete cold war politics -- it tends to be unfairly overshadowed by 2001.

I, too, was a huge X-files fan, btw. I've been thinking about that show a lot recently -- it so effectively combined mythical story arcs with a procedural storyline. Really the first show I can recall to do that...

CF: The analogy to a novel is a great one! Someone once compared Lost to the Sopranos on that very basis. In both shows, the rhythm of the plot resembles something from a book, rather than typical serialized television. There are more cliffhangers on Lost, presumably because it's a network television show. But the writers seem determined to have the plot develop along the schedule they've set -- and not before. You can see that in their deal to end the show in three seasons, which gave them the freedom to do something daring like the flash forwards.

capcom said...

You are right Big and CF, I have thought of Lost like a novel also, in the way that it just keeps you wanting to turn the next page to find out what happens next! Except for the fact that as a TV show, we only get the book one chapter at a time instead of all at once like a whole book, argh.

Ooh yes, I'm a big 2001/2010 fan too! If I could ask one OT question about 2010, Big: in 2001 apparently Dr. Heywood knows about their little problems with the obelisk, and HAL's programming, and is very informed on the secrets, etc. But in 2010, Heywood says that he didn't know anything about HAL's conflicting programming. Huh? Have I got that wrong? Tx.

Yeah, ya gotta love that old Cold War junk.

"Piece of pie!" :o)

Bigmouth said...

Capcom: Speaking of cold war politics, have you ever read the original script for 2001? The cold war conflict was supposed to be even more pronounced, with a description of how the US and USSR had militarized space. I think the point was to demonstrate how little we had changed since the dawn of man. The politics are much more subtle in the final film. Which reminds me, according to the WHISPERS folks on the fuselage.com, some of the Others can be heard expressing surprise that we "survived the nuclear age" when Oceanic 815 crashes.

I'm not sure what you're referring to re Dr. Floyd. He obviously knew about the Jupiter monolith and that HAL had been programmed to keep the mission objective a secret. Perhaps he meant in 2010 that he wasn't aware that programming HAL to keep a secret would cause a conflict?

capcom said...

OK, I can accept that explanation for Dr. Floyd, that sounds good.

No, I've never even seen the script. Was it sold in paperback form like some are? That would be super. Interesting about the whispers too. What do you think that means? Were the whisperers surprised to see humans arrive on the island after the Bombs were made, meaning that humans survived it all (as per Hanso's comments in the Sri Lanka film)? Or was it just one of those comments like, "Well we went to the moon but...(fill in the blanks)"?

Thanks!

3D said...

capcom said...

I agree CF. Even with the X-Files' dismal final seasons, the first 7 or so seasons will always remain one of, if the THE, favorite TV fiction of all time to me. The bad end couldn't take back all the creepy fun that I had with it up to that point.

Lost has been so great up to now, even if the end of last season bombs, I will still have enjoyed the ride very much.


I disagree with you, because X-Files was much more accessible. Yes, there was an overarching story arc like there is in LOST, but a casual fan could also watch one X-Files episode and enjoy it as an entity unto itself.

The same is not the case for LOST. The very thing that drives the show is the overarching story, and the mystery surrounding the overarching story, so it does not have the luxury of wrapping up in a displeasing or dissatisfying way, like the X-Files did. I think LOST would be relegated to the dustbin of TV history if it had a clownish ending after all this great storytelling.

That said, I do have confidence in this team of writers that they do know what they are doing, and I take them at their word that they had a mind-blowing ending in mind since Day 1.

memphish said...

Anyone could watch Expose 3D.

capcom said...

Well sure 3D, in a worst case scenario, a joke ending that insults our intelligence would not sit well and would be depressing. But it still wouldn't diminish the fun that I've had along the way. The ending may still not please everyone, even if it's done well. We've had so much time to think about how we would like the mysteries and story to go, if TPTB don't wrap it up the way that we each would prefer, we'll just have to live with it and enjoy the ride. I think that's kind of what CF meant maybe.

You're right about the stand-alone eps in the X-Files. I wasn't even thinking about them because they didn't need any wrapping up in the end, although watching them was as much fun as the mythology eps. But I can still watch and enjoy the early mythology eps even though I know that the whole consortium/CSM thing wimps out disappointingly at the end. Lost won't be running as long as the Files, but I've still had fun up to now. :-)

capcom said...

Heheh, not me Memphish, I'll pass. :o)

Bigmouth said...

3D: You make a great point about the strength of stand-alone episodes on the X-Files. I was trying to say something similar when I praised the show's ability to combine procedural and mythical elements so seamlessly. At this point, however, I think Lost has earned enough credibility to end poorly, if that makes any sense. It's like the Sopranos or the Matrix Trilogy, both of which remain classics despite kind of wimping out a bit in the end.

memphish: True, but Expose was a notable exception, and even there you had to be a serious fan to get the meta-references in the episode (e.g., the LaShade/Cobra dichotomy, the orphanage reference, etc.). Otherwise, I expect the storyline would seem silly and weak...

Capcom: Yes, a joke at the audience's expense -- or even that it's all a dream -- would inspire major backlash. As I once wrote in a post to the writers requesting no more hoaxes, they're entitled to one Poochie episode, which was presumably Expose. To end the series on such a note would be disastrous...

BTW, here is a link to a draft of the 2001:ASO script, if you're interested. Check out the end, which is very different from the final film...

annebeth said...

Hi Bigmouth :)
I have a comment that is not exactly of relevance for this topic, but for an earlier theory: When Alternate Reality's Collide.

Maibe you have allready heard of the new Lost Trailer. In it, it shows Charlie with shorter hair and (supposedly) an evil grin on his face...

I think this may provide more proof for the alternate reality theorie. Our Charlie died, obviously, but the Charlie from the mirror reality is still alive and maibe not as nice as our Charlie (I think he may be the inventor of the looking glass password).

I'm curious what you, and the readers of your blog think of it.

greetings,
Annebeth Kuijs (from The Netherlands)

Bla said...

I'm tired of LOST in general.

Bigmouth said...

annebeth: Hello and welcome to eyemsick! You're from the Netherlands, Bla is from Bulgaria -- the international popularity of Lost never ceases to amaze me!

Regarding your question about Charlie appearing in the Lost Trailer, I've heard the rumors and am intrigued. Unfortunately, I fear that the Third Anniversary podcast (see discussion here) tends to foreclose the possibility of parallel "mirror" realities like those described in When Alternate Realities Collide. At this point, therefore, I'm inclined to think that Charlie's appearance will be either via Smokey or in some dream vision, two ways that dead characters sometimes reappear on the Island.

BUT...

As you can also see from the podcast discussion I linked above, there's still some wiggle room where course correcting and changing the "picture on the box" are concerned. More specifically, Desmond may have made some small changes to Charlie's past that result in a very different future for our favorite hobbit. For example, maybe Widmore's henchmen grabbed Charlie after Desmond made contact with him in the past during FBYE. Maybe that's the real reason Charlie had to die on the Island -- to avoid making contact with himself.

Anyway, you've really got me thinking. Perhaps I'll turn this into its own post -- stay tuned!

Bla: LOL! The long hiatus and lack of spoilers has indeed been trying...I wish they'd break radio silence!

Jay said...

I have a feeling Lost is going to be on the explanatory side at the end, although that explanation will be much more concrete than anything the X-Files had to offer at the end.

We're going to get answers to what the island ultimately is, what the monster ultimately is and exactly what Ben and the Other's agendas are.

Whether we'll be satisfied with those answers (i.e. where on the spectrum of hokey to mindblowing do they fall) remains to be seen, but I have faith in the writers. :)

Annebeth Kuijs said...

Hi Bigmouth, thanks for the welcome :) I'm happily surprised by the international lost fanbase too. I noticed it especially during the Lost Experience.

About the alternate realities and the 3rd anniversary podcast, maibe no alternate futures or paralel futures excist, but does that rule alternate realities out? Well... probably, but I keep hope, I liked the theory so much ;)

However, now my first exitement is faded, I too think that it is a Charlie apparation or flashback, sadly ;) But, who knows. There IS something fishy about the save-charlie actions by Dom and Darlton... The alternate timeline is still a possibility as you say :)

bigmouth said...

Jay: I agree up to a point. We'll get "answers" but the way they're presented will probably raise even more questions. For example, we've been told that Oceanic 815 crashed because Desmond didn't push the button. As you can see, however, that "answer" just raises more questions like "how" and "why"...

Annabeth: I'm with you -- there's something really fishy going on with Charlie. Apparently, only a handful of our Losties make it off the Island. I wonder if those that don't won't be allowed to leave because Des changed the past such that they were never on Oceanic 815. Then again, Naomi was pretty insistent that Charlie was presumed dead...ARGH! Man, I can't wait another month for my Lost fix...LOL!