Two years ago today, LOST went off the air. In case you don't remember, it was a big deal on the site. There were videos. There were episode discussions. There were lots of finale discussions. And there were coping mechanisms when it was over.
Since Lost went off the air, the TV landscape changed, much like Jack Shepard's pecs. Based on the declining ratings of the show and negative reaction so many people had to the finale, the amount of "mythology" shows on TV, especially network TV, bottomed out. It also didn't help that every post-Lost mythology show seemed to suck (V, The Event, FlashForward, Happy Town).
As for that finale, I was a fan of it at the time and I stand by it. I fully admit it's flaws and the many, many unanswered questions left behind, but I dig a bit of spirituality behind the science fiction (probably why I liked the Battlestar ending more than most).
Because I don't have cable and I do have Netflix On Demand, I had the free time to watch the entire Lost series through again and there's quite a few things that you come away from a second run-through with.
1. Recapturing the magic of season one was always impossible.
If nothing else, Lost fans really have to re-watch S1 at some point in their lives. By the time we got to S3 or S4, the mysteries were so big and vast that it's no surprise that many of them collapsed under their own weight. But in S1, everything was so unknown that the littlest mysteries make for entire episodes of wonder. Remember what it was like to wonder what the thing in the jungle making all that noise was. Remember what it was like to think that Walt and Locke were destined for a dramatic showdown. Remember how shocking it was the first time you saw "Adam & Eve" or The Hatch. Anything seemed possible and it was awesome.
2. Lost was a really friggin' good show.
Lost had it's share of cheeseball moments and overblown silliness but it also had some really amazing episodes and moments of storytelling. Walkabout, Through The Looking Glass and The Constant come to mind. There's a bunch more great episodes and moments here. The difference between Lost and so many other shows like it was the quality of the writing and acting, that is, when everyone wasn't crying.
3. They should have tried harder with Walt.
Watching S1, you remember just how important Walt was to the story. The way they were setting him and his powers up, he was meant for big things. While it's understandable that his growth spurt threw a wrench in the filming of a show in which each season takes place over the course of a few days, they should have seen that coming. And really, in a show with time travel and smoke monsters, you could have figured out a way to bring Walt back into the fold despite looking five years older than he did in the pilot.
The characters in the final scene of Lost are there because their time on the island was the most important times of their lives. Walt spent more time on the island than Boone and the same amount as Libby, not to mention the fact that he's freaking Walt. He kills birds with his mind! He should have been there (And I know that his fate is shown in the epilogue episode, but that wasn't good enough).
4. The unknowable end date hurt S2 and S3.
You can really see the writer struggle with how fast to move the story along in seasons two and three. At the time, they had no idea when the show would end. Would it end in four seasons? Six? Ten? They had to kinda tread water a little bit and the show suffered for it (Nikki and Paulo?).
5. Mr. Eko was awesome
Such a shame he left the show when he did. Another character you could tell was destined for much bigger things on the island. Can't blame the writers this time, the actor wanted to leave the show and left them no choice. At the very least, it would have been nice for him to come back in the finale. Oh well.
Like I was saying, we're two years on and you'd be hard-pressed to find a SciFi mythology show on TV that has measured up. The only show that's even in the same realm is Fringe and that's done next season.
What's a fan of long-form science fiction storytelling to do? Not much sadly.
I mentioned that the TV landscape changed after Lost. The unfortunate side effect of Lost's finale is that networks took it to mean people like SciFi but in a neat little box. That's why we got Alcatraz and Terra Nova, both of which are done after a season.
I looked at all the shows coming down the pipeline next year and I didn't see anything that seemed to fit either. About the closest thing is Last Resort, about a submarine crew that disobeys orders to launch missiles and finds itself on an island holding off the efforts of the US Army to seek revenge. It looks interesting but it's not the SciFi kick I'm looking for.
My only domestic hope at this point is that Fringe hits it out of the park next year. I was disappointed with S4 as a whole. First for the unfortunate retconning of the entire show to start the season and then the anticlimactic way they dealt with the season's big baddie. However, they alluded to some pretty cool storylines for the final season, so fingers remain crossed.
Otherwise, the only other show that satisfies my fix at the moment is Doctor Who. I resisted The Doctor for a long time, mostly because of what I knew of the old series. However, after finding the "best" episodes and then working my way out from there, I've gotten hooked. There's a lot of references I'm still catching up on but it really delivers on the high-stakes SciFi mythology I'm looking for. Especially the latest incarnation of show, The Eleventh Doctor. Showrunner Steven Moffat has traded in some of the show's camp for intricate season-long arcs and some very intriguing concepts.
(And if anyone else is interested, I'm dying to get into DW discussions. Open that TARDIS door for me!)
Anyway, two years on and there are very few TV shows I consider appointment television the way I used to consider Lost. And none of the ones I currently watch are of that ilk. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there will be for a while. The good news is, if I'm ever feeling sorry for myself and drinking myself into a stupor next to an airport, I know that I can always go back.
We have to go back.
WE HAVE TO GO BAAAAAACK!!!