Friday, May 21, 2010

Faith Rewarded

At the start of every new TV season, viewers like me have important questions to answer: Which new shows will be good enough to invest our time, energy, emotion, and precious DVR space in? Which will be worth watching after a good (or bad) pilot, and sticking with for the years to come? In some cases, it's a difficult choice between two shows on at the same time, and in other cases, the choice is made for you. Such was the case with Lost in the fall 2004. Coming from J.J. Abrams, the creator and executive producer of Alias (and Felicity), watching Lost was a no-brainer for me — and after watching the brilliant pilot episode, I was hooked instantly.

Six years later, it's bittersweet to say that my leap of faith (confident though it was) was rewarded many times over. Bittersweet, of course, because Sunday night the journey ends with the series finale. Not since the finale of Friends have I been this excited and sad to see a show end its run. It's been a good one, to say the least. I didn't always follow what was happening, and I didn't always pick up on the details and Easter eggs, but I sure did love the narrative and the characters (John Locke especially) and the acting and the production quality and the music (by Michael Giacchino) and the writing. I loved how watching the show gave me an instant bond with fellow fans, who were always ready and eager to discuss the show as soon as you told them you watched it too. I loved going back and watching old episodes in retrospect and discovering new things. I loved the mystery, the anticipation, and the excitement that always came with the show's premiere and finale episodes each season. I loved Henry Ian Cusick as Desmond and Titus Welliver as the Man in Black. I loved discovering the elaborate websites that were built to increase the show's mythology. And I loved that the writers and producers were always surprising me and exceeding expectations, continually raising the bar for how good a TV show could be.

Thursday night, the show's executive producers, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, participated in a live Q&A that was broadcast in movie theaters across the country. I watched from the Regal Fenway here in Boston, and even though the event was taking place in New York City, it was hard not to feel a part of something special. You knew everyone in the theater and everyone in New York was a huge fan with tons of questions, and a passionate attachment to the show (many folks in New York were wearing themed t-shirts; one guy was wearing a full Dharma Initiative jumpsuit). As Team Darlton shared anecdotes, dropped hints about the final episode, evaded some of the audience questions, and gave insights about earlier scenes and plot points, I felt even more a sense of loss. These are two great, talented, smart, funny guys, and we fans have been so lucky to have them and their work in our lives all this time. (I don't know if you listen to Darlton's weekly podcast, but I think I'm going to miss that as much as the show itself.)

One thing Damon said in the Q&A was that writing the final episode was like preparing for your own wake, and being able to plan exactly how it will go, what people will say, and how you will be remembered. It was an appropriate metaphor, I thought. Sunday night, I'm blocking off the full five and a half hours to watch the recap, the episode, and then Jimmy Kimmel's "Aloha to Lost" special. With Carlton and Damon in charge, I know I will not be disappointed. I'll just be a bit sad when it's all over. Thanks for six great seasons, guys!



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