Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost and Found

I'm a bit bleary-eyed this morning because I stayed up late to watch the very last episode of Lost in real time. Yes, I could have watched it on Hulu, the way I've been doing all season. But some part of me wanted to see it last night, as the rest of the most of the world watched it.

Part of my motivation came from my suspicion that there will never again be a TV show like this one, and therefore, this might be the last time I would ever care enough about a TV show to stay up late, knowing I'd feel bleary-eyed the next day.

Part of my motivation is my fondness for final shows. I remember watching the very last episode of Mash and weeping, the same way I wept last night. So often, television shows limp away and die out of sight. It's a comfort to have a last show.

Strange to think how the world has changed since I wept over Mash. If I wanted to see that show, I was at the mercy of the networks. Now, for most shows, I can watch them online from a variety of outlets, or I can wait for the DVD collection.

But the change that I notice most is the absolute dearth of television shows that are worth the effort to watch anymore. I'm still a die-hard Simpsons fan. Occasionally I still watch House, but I don't like it as much as I once did. I was a Drama Club geek, so I love Glee, although I still can't tell if it's a giant spoof or if I'm supposed to take it seriously (a bit of both, I suspect). I like The Office and 30 Rock.

So, I watched Lost and wept. Last night's story lines had the kind of story lines that appealed to me: long lost lovers brought back together after long, faithful waits; the triumph of community; sacrifice for the greater good, which brings redemption. But as I write I'm wondering if I'm interpreting any of it correctly.

That's what I've loved about the show. It gives me a lot to think about, and you can't say that about much television. I don't often wake up in the morning puzzling over the plot developments of 30 Rock or The Office. I'll follow those writers wherever they want to go, but I don't feel very invested in one outcome or another.

I'm amazed to think about the changes in my life that occurred as I watched the show. The episode where Boone dies was one that I caught at the end after I came home from the hospital room where my mother-in-law was very close to dying (which she did, shortly after that episode). I think of the horrible hurricane season of 2005, with no hot water for showers, week after week, those survivors on the island, as I waited for power to be restored. I think of the various depictions of leadership, so interesting to me, as I've watched various power plays at work.

These days, I sit down to watch television and promptly fall asleep; most shows just aren't compelling enough to stay awake for. I can't imagine another show like Lost, so well written, so beautiful to watch, so intricate and intelligent, any time soon.

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