Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Event vs. Lost

In the last couple of years a few shows have tried to cash in on the phenomenal popularity and success  of "Lost."  These new shows have all poached several things from Lost, the mysteries, the flashbacks and flash forwards, some have even poached actors (Elizabeth Mitchell, "V"; Sonya Walger and Dominic Monaghan "Flash Forward").  The latest effort to recreate a "Lost" type show is this year's "The Event."

"Flash Forward" and "V" were relative failures last season, the former getting canceled, the latter being picked up for a second season after a lackluster first season with a paltry 12 episodes.

So, how will the event fair? << Spoiler Alerts: Spoilers for Lost and the Event are possible below >> I must say, after two episodes I am not optimistic. The show is interesting enough (barely) at this point and has earned a commitment to a third episode from me and my wife, but the show is lacking.  One should not fault the producers of these shows for trying to latch on to Lost's success, the problem is not their attempts to use Lost as a template, their problem in my view is that they misunderstood what Lost was about. Lost was not about the mysteries, not about time gimmicks, it was about telling a story of lovable and compelling characters.  The finale of Lost alone demonstrates that this was a story about people and their life journeys, not about some mysteries of an Island.  Sure, the mysteries mattered, but they were background to the characters.  In the Event, it appears that only the mystery matters and I could not care less about the characters.  There is not one character through 2 episodes that I even remotely care about. 

Moreover, the time shifts, back and forward in Lost were not gimmicks, they were an aid to telling the story of the characters.  The time shifts in Lost were deliberately not given time stamps.  The audience was never told when a certain flashback or flashforward or flash sideways was.  It didn't matter, the story was not some complex time line that the audience had to figure out.  It was fun to try and figure out when things occurred, but it was not the point.  The point was to tell the story of the characters.  The time shifts in The Event are given time stamps and it is already making my head hurt.  1944, 10 years ago, 13 months ago, 7 days ago, 4 days ago.  I have this disjointed time line in my head and it seems to serve little purpose.  In fact, both my wife and I agreed that the Pilot of the Event would have been more compelling if told in chronological order, starting with a week ago and then following out the events to the Plane incident with perhaps one flashback to 13 months ago.  The time shifts in the Event seem to be more pointless and merely a gimmick: "Hey, it worked for Lost, right?"

Three of my favorite shows over the past several years are Lost, Alias, and Battlestar Galactica.  One thing all of these shows had in common was the connection that they created between me -- the audience -- and the characters.  Both good and bad characters were all compelling.  Who makes a better hero than Starbuck?  Who a more compelling villain than Sloan?  Who a more creepy and ambiguous villain/hero than Baltar?  Who a better "good guy" than Hurley?  The characters created an emotional response in me whenever a beloved or hated character would arrive on screen.  Characters like Starbuck and Adama, Baltar and Roslin, Locke and Ben, Jack and Sawyer, Kate and Hurley, Sydney and Sloan and Will.  Even now, when I see one of these actors in another role, my heart jumps or I get goosebumps.  It happened just the other day when Terry O'Quinn had a guest role on an episode of the West Wing that I was watching.  And all of these shows were able to create this type of character connection by the end of the 1 or 2 hour pilot.  So far with The Event, it is only the vague mystery that is barely holding me to the show.  Will it be enough? We'll see next week.


  1. Keith,
    In a different genre (comedy) you should check out the show Community. It's starting its second season and the genius of the show is that through one of the characters (Abed), the show gives you glimpses into the process of story-writing. Don't expect too much, though, its still mostly light-hearted comedy.

  2. I know this comment is a month late, but I totally agree with you on this.

    I watched the event thinking it would be something like LOST. I totally needed some TV show to rattle my mind.

    The Event was confusing...but not in a good way. The show might have been better had lost never existed. All the ideas with the flashbacks, and forwards, time jumps, and the mysteriousness of it all would've seemed so new.

    Lost sort of mastered those, and now the event seems like a really bad attempt at it.