Thursday, February 22, 2007

An Open Letter to Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, Executive Producers of Lost

Hi, guys. How's Hawaii? Carlton, I loved Brisco County.

So, I watched your most recent episode last night. Among the highlights were a man being savagely beaten on a beach, that same man being locked in a cage for no apparent reason, and a woman being terribly scarred in what was evidently a ritual form of punishment. It was exactly as fun as it sounds.

Look, I want to cut you guys a lot of slack here. For example, I’m not going to hold you for the lies told by the ABC promotions department. “All your questions will be answered,” they said. Well, of course they weren’t. None of them were, and they were never going to be, and ABC lies like a dog, so I won’t hold you responsible for that.

Also, I understand your predicament. You’re telling a mystery story, and that requires you to keep information hidden from the audience. Mystery is a large source of the appeal of your show. I get that. So I’m not going to get bitter over not knowing every single thing about the island and the Others and all that stuff.

But you guys are perilously close to pissing me off. Your show is not fun to watch, and I spend most of the hour rolling my eyes at the television set, and I think you might be responsible for the most irritating programming currently available. And I say that as someone who has seen episodes of Men in Trees. There are some very serious problems with your show, and they are all your fault.

1. Lost is ugly and violent.
If I could sum up this season of Lost so far in one word, that word would be “torture”. People in cages, people being shocked with electricity, people being ordered to remove their clothes, people nearly being drowned, people being shot, people strapped to chairs and forced to watch films just like Billy Joel in the video for “Pressure”…that’s what the most intense show on television has had to offer us so far. You know, there’s a reason I don’t go to see movies like Saw, and why I think Seven is one of the greatest travesties ever foisted upon the American moviegoing public: unrelenting misery mixed with physical abuse is not my idea of a good time. I’m ready for Lost to figure that out.

2. Lost is focused on the most annoying characters.
Season 3 of Lost has provided us with nine episodes thus far. Six of those episodes have been devoted to the angstiest love triangle ever, and the way its participants suffer at the hands of mysterious forces. Two of those other episodes were devoted to characters introduced in Season 2, and in one of those, the character was killed. There are about a dozen other people, introduced to us at the very beginning of the show, who have received less screen time all season than the average guest star on Boston Public receives in a single episode. You guys have gotten way off track, and the tracks you’ve gotten onto are not fruitful.

3. Lost is unbearably, deliberately obtuse.

From Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary
Pronunciation: äb-'tüs, &b-, -'tyüs
Function: adjective
Inflected Form(s): ob·tus·er; -est
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin obtusus blunt, dull, from past participle of obtundere to beat against, blunt, from ob- against + tundere to beat -- more at OB-, CONTUSION
1 a : not pointed or acute : BLUNT b (1) of an angle : exceeding 90 degrees but less than 180 degrees (2) : having an obtuse angle -- see TRIANGLE illustration c of a leaf : rounded at the free end
2 a : lacking sharpness or quickness of sensibility or intellect : INSENSITIVE, STUPID b : difficult to comprehend : not clear or precise in thought or expression
synonym see DULL

Here’s a typical conversation on Lost:
Mysterious Island Denizen: You have to do what I say.
Survivor of Recent Plane Crash: I don’t understand. Why?
Mysterious Island Denizen: I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you that.
Survivor of Recent Plane Crash: Then I won’t help you.
Mysterious Island Denizen: I don’t know why you’re so difficult.

48 minutes of this crap every week. Look, you don’t get to be purposefully mysterious and then complain that nobody understands you. You have to explain yourself. Doesn’t that spoil the mystery? No, it doesn’t. Look at how you handled Locke, the man who seems to have been healed by this weird island. We know something about his past that no one in the show knows, so we understand why he does a lot of what he does, but he’s still a mysterious fellow. Not so with the Others. We don’t know a damn thing about them, but then they have the gall to get offended. And that’s no good. Damon, Carlton, you have reached the point in this show where the only reason people don’t communicate with each other like normal human beings is because it will ruin your surprise. The problem is, once everyone stops acting like normal human beings, you’ve got no show.

Look, I’ve read the interviews. You want it to be very clear that you know where you’re going with all this. You have a plan. You’re not The X-Files. But I’m having a hard time believing you anymore, because you’re just running in place, adding things that are supposed to be mysterious (“We’re here to watch.”) but are really only annoying. Plus, your fellow producer J. J. Abrams has said all these same things before…about his show Alias, which was also supposed to have a plan, but was instead allowed to collapse into a confusing, pathetic mess. In short, I’m losing confidence. And judging from the ratings, a lot of people have given up long before me.

I know you guys listen to the complaints. Last year, there were too many repeats and breaks in the season. So this year, we get 16 episodes in a row. "No repeats," according to ABC promotions. That's all good. So since you're listening, listen to this: at the end of last night’s episode, I turned to my wife and said, “I’m getting a Season 7 of The X-Files vibe.” It was not a compliment. Your show is on the edge, gentlemen. Be very, very afraid.

You know what they say. The truth is out there.

UPDATED: Someone found a way to say everything I tried to say, only more clearly and eloquently than I. Wanna see? Click here and watch the video.


Paul Winston said...

True story: I was having lunch with a mutual friend (author) of ours who is trying to turn a series of books he has created into either a movie or TV series. I told him that if we went the TV route, it would be like the 5-year story arc the producers of LOST had when they pitched the show to ABC. He laughed and said that was just a Hollywood tale. At best, they had half the first season mapped out. Form there, it's just been made up as they've gone on.

Explains a lot. Doesn't it?

Proxy said...

I watch Lost in DVD form, since I can't handle waiting a week after a bad or worthless episode...and I simply have to fast forward past Kate-and-whoever scenes(Seriously, is she really that interesting?).

My sister, however, has been watching the show since it began, in real time...and she explains it like this: "I don't know what the hell is going on anymore. At the end of every show, I end up quoting Charlie, ['Guys, where are we?']. Seriously, guys, where the FUCK are they?"

Arnie said...

The show has been in serious steady decline since halfway through season one. That said, I actually think overall this season has been better than most of last season.

And I really hope they kill Charlie. Please. Please do it.