Saturday, March 24, 2007

TV Week in Review

LOST: only 11 episodes left in this series -- we are now heading toward the inexorable season finale. This was a strong episode that alludes to and revises a key moment in J. J. Abrams earlier project, Alias. (I will have a note on this with spoilers in the comments). The story is strong, we learn how John Locke lost his legs, and it ends with one of the great insane twists that would be just stupid on any other show: Lost has built a mysterious context where the audience has to simply accept whatever left turn the show decides to take. That is all the fun.

We also see in this episode another great example of what makes this show work: the illusion of change. Most often, in order for serial narratives to survive, they cannot change too much because the audience will reject the show -- they want the same thing week after week. This is what keeps Law and Order on the air. But the ostensible purpose of narrative is to see what happens next, what is going to change in the lives of the characters we care about. One of the best ways of dealing with these conflicting demands is to cater to both -- make it look like you are changing things but keep everything the same, or keep returning to the beginning. The best example of this is on Alias -- at the end of season two Sidney is knocked out, and when she wakes up it is two years later. That seems like a big change -- the lives of everyone she knows has changed. But it works to keep things the same. Over the first two seasons she got closer and closer to Vaughn but if they get married it is going to take all the dynamic out of their relationship. With the two year gap they are back to square one -- he has married someone else and now they begin the long journey back to each other from the beginning. On this week's episode of Lost the submarine is the equivalent of the two year gap -- it looks like a big exciting change, but it smartly works to keep thing the same. Lost is genius.

That is the only television show I am going to talk about this week, but this is the place to talk about this week's television.

4 comments:

Geoff Klock said...

The epsiode ends with Locke opening the door and seeing a man tied to a chair, a man he thought he would never see again -- "Dad?" he says incredulously, and the show ends on that beat. This is a direct revision of the final moment in Alias season One: Sidney is tied to a chair and a woman walks into the room, a woman she thought she would never see again "Mom?" she says incredulously, and the show ends on that beat. The character who speaks has reversed position -- Locke is entering while Sidney was tied to the chair, but more importantly, Abrams is one-uping himself. What was a big season finale for Alias is merely the 13th episode for Lost. The moment promises that the Lost season finale will be proportionally bigger.

jennifer said...

what do you think locke is gong to do with his helpless father?
if he forgives his father, won't he die?

Geoff Klock said...

Whatever it is it is going to be nuts. John Locke is my personal hero.

Matt Brady said...

The second episode of Andy Barker was excellent last week. Really funny stuff. Rome had its series finale last night, and it was pretty satisfying, and a little sad. I might do a closer look on my blog, if I feel like it.

The season finale of Battlestar Galactica was last night, but I haven't watched it yet.

Other than that, I don't think I watched much TV last week. I'm excited about the "season premiere" of The Sopranos in a couple weeks, and I might watch Entourage also, although I'm kind of tired of that show.