Posts Tagged ‘Lost’

Monday Night Pilots: Hawaii Five-O, Lone Star, The Event

September 21st, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

My mini-reviews of Chase and Mike and Molly will appear over at Antenna, along with other thoughts on all the new shows from a neat group of people, so I’d point you all there.

As for my Monday, that leaves me with Hawaii 5-0, Lone Star, and The Event. All after the fold … Read more…

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Selling Lost in Malawi, Part II

August 13th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

A very delayed follow-up post, this time with the DVD text for Season 1. Thanks to Jason Mittell for linking to this wonderful collection of pirated DVD covers, which made me realize it’s time to post this. My favorite is the third paragraph!

Since the US ABC television broadcast after the alias of the most popular elements of the latest series. ABC’s Chi Juzi in Hawaii filming the whole story ups and downs, actors performing most vividly, had become a prime-time TV ratings were the highest one.

Story from a professional perspective doctor Jack started on a major airliner crashed in the Pacific islands, a total of 48 passengers lucky survivors. At first, people fortunate survivors, looking forward to the arrival of rescue forces, they gradually found that the island.

New Year’s more creative experts cracked the increased fan! Sina major breakthrough in treatment of liver disease Tourism Jobs Nashi.

Cengjinglaiguo and they seem to like the people, their distress signals had been the release of the 16, but it seems that no one found their presence ……

Face with this barren island populated, how can they survive? Without a good medical equipment, Jack can only use the most rudimentary way people will be dying one by one save. In the struggle for survival in the …

And that’s it. So, if you still want answers about the island, even after watching the whole series, clearly it’s something about liver disease and tourism.

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Selling Lost in Malawi

July 5th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

By way of contextualizing info, I’m currently in Liwonde, Malawi. It’s the second time I’ve been here, doing fieldwork once more (indeed, I posted some observations last time, but my Net access is poor enough that I hope you’ll pardon the lack of hyperlinks — just go look for Malawi tags instead). I’m primarily interested in what films, television, and music are here, how they got here, what’s popular, and what people think of the media around them and think of with that media.

Part of my fieldwork therefore involves hanging out in marketplaces and talking to folk who sell DVDs, CDs, VCDs, etc. I like to see what’s available, usually buy something to make the store-owner comfortable with me, then chat about what people like, whether what I bought is good, and so forth. Indeed, given all my work on parataxts and extratextuals, I’m especially fascinated with how Hollywood and Nollywood are sold in a town in Malawi.

Well, the other day I found a gem. Alongside the usual suspects of CSI, Prison Break, wrestling, and 24 that I got used to seeing two years ago, the latest show to hit the stands is Lost. Yet, I should explain that action does extremely well here — the “video shows” (rooms that fit anywhere from 20 to 50, and that play movies and television on tiny televisions for an admission price of about 3-5 cents) exhibit a lot of Nigerian soaps, but when it’s Hollywood, it’s nearly always Van Damme, Schwarzenegger (and I don’t mean Twins!), Stallone, Cruise, Snipes, Seagal, and friends. With that in mind, it was interesting to see the copy on the back of the DVD package for Season 5 of Lost (spoiler alert):

“Phil and the gunmen showed up, and Jack plotted his course toward the swan. Phil spotted Jack and started shooting at him. Jack shot back and the rest of the group provided cover for Jack by driving him by in the van and shooting. Sawyer snuck up behind Phil and held him at gunpoint, ordering him to tell everyone else to drop their guns. Sawyer told Jack to do his business. The drill wouldn’t shut down. Jack held the bomb over the hole, looked back at Kate and Sawyer looked at Juliet. Jack dropped the bomb and … nothing happened. ‘This don’t look like LAX,’ Sawyer said. Metal objects started being pulled into the hole. Jack was knocked about by a metal box, Chang was trapped for a moment by a piece of scaffolding and Miles helped pull him free. Phil was about to shoot Sawyer, when another piece of scaffolding knocked him over, then a series of metal pipes shot toward him, with one of them hitting Phil in the chest, presumably killing him.”

Just in case you wondered what genre Lost was, we now have an answer, for Malawi at least: it’s full-on action.

Maybe later I’ll type up the waaaaay cooler notes for Season 1.

Apologies, in the meantime, if formatting is messed up here. I can’t access the rich text editor in WordPress here, and my knowledge of html is strictly limited.

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Don’t Picket the Funeral: The Lost Finale and its Anti-Fans

May 24th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

And with that, Lost is over. Predictably, my Twitter feed came alive last night as friends and colleagues tried to make sense of it. Equally predictably, the anti-fans were out in full force. There were those who never really liked the show anyways and wanted us all to know it, there were those who thought the finale sucked and needed to discuss it, and there were those who loved to hate the show publicly and who saw this as their best chance to make that hate even more public.

I’m not going to discuss the actual finale here, since a whole host of people with more words and thoughts than I have already done so, and, quite frankly, I want to sit on it a little longer before I pass complete judgment. Go here to see other reviews linked. What I want to discuss instead is those anti-fans.

Specifically, I find myself wishing we could institute a short mourning period for fans of a show once it’s over. I get anti-fandom, and realize that it’s as valid a cultural practice as is fandom. It would be ludicrous, and more to the point outright worrying, to suggest that one should only love the media – dislike and hate are necessary, especially if we ever want it to get better. Anyone who tells themselves that they’re a fan is definitely an anti-fan of something else, and anyone who isn’t a fan of anything is (not only a sad, sorry human being, but also) definitely an anti-fan of at least something else. So anti-fans aren’t going anywhere, nor should they.

But how pleasant it would be, though, if we could accept that fans need some time to decompress, to let go, and to savor the memory of their beloved show once it’s gone. I’d pose that if, as an anti-fan, you’re unwilling to honor that love in the small way of shutting up and letting the fans have a day or three, your anti-fandom has become an ugly beast. It’s now first and foremost dependent on ruining others’ experience, and it is supremely untrusting that those others truly find something worth loving in the first place. It is a radical narcissism. You know those jerks who picket funerals saying the deceased is going to Hell? That’s what you’ve become.

Granted, I say this now because I am a Lost fan. Some might question my use of the word “fan,” since I’m not in a Lost community, I don’t produce Lost fic or so forth, and the only time I’ve spent on speculation boards is when I’m studying them. But I consider myself a fan. As such, the naysayers are pissing me off and ruining my buzz. This is a self-interested plea, yes. But please feel free to throw this back in my face in the future – when Grey’s Anatomy ends (and boy will that be a good day), I promise to shut up and let the fans have their day or three. Which is not to say that I promise to like the show, because my understanding of the cultural studies project was not that we all had to like everything, nor that we all had to agree with everyone’s likes. Let us vigorously disagree, and if you want to know why I dislike Grey’s (apart from it causing an outbreak of students who can’t spell my name, that is), I’ll gladly tell you. I may tell you even if you don’t want to know too, because I’m invested in my answer. I just won’t do it after the finale.

So how about a moratorium on Lost hate till tomorrow?

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“I Better Not Have Wasted All This Time on Lost

May 5th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

I’ve heard the title of this post way too many times in the last few weeks. They bug me. But they also say something important about how we watch television, I think.

First, when Eddy Kitses and Adam Horowitz, two Lost writer-producers and University of Wisconsin Communication Arts alumni, visited Madison recently, several of our students shared a version of the lines with them. It’s popped up on numerous websites or Facebook threads I read. And it’s a general mantra as the show approaches its final episode.

But I really hope it is just a mantra, something that gets repeated over and over without a sense of why it’s there and what it means. Because if any fans are honestly pegging all their hopes, investment of time, and their ultimate evaluation of the show on how it ends, I have news for you: the show’s already failed for you.

Granted, a lot’s at stake, and I really hope the writers and actors pull it off. Granted, like most (all?) Lost viewers, there have been times in the last few years when I’ve felt as though they’re just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, and making up the plot willy-nilly. And granted, I want a brilliant ending, something that honors the journey (t)here. But it’s been an incredible ride. If you’ve stuck with it all this time, and have immense anticipation and hopes for the cast and crew to pull off a fantastic finale, surely that’s because its level of quality has told you that it’s fair to expect this. If not, why are you still watching? If the value of the narrative and of the experience still hangs in the balance, you have only yourself to blame for lashing yourself on the back by watching something you’re not enjoying. If, by contrast, you’ve been enjoying it, where’s the “waste”?

I ask that question in part rhetorically, since I think what’s really being said by many fans when they suggest that Lost might have wasted all their time is that they want a conclusion that justifies the time they’ve spent watching the show to others. Conclusions to stories matter, of course, but when you’re really enjoying a story, they matter more to those not watching. Indeed, much negative analysis of shows that someone didn’t watch harps on their conclusions, either of the show as a whole (cf. Sex and the City) or of any given episode, as critics can easily lambaste a show for its apparent closing message rather than paying attention to the journey – a strategy common to lazy textual analyses. Censors and would-be censors love conclusions, too, because that’s where they look for the moral.

But if you love a show, the journey is the thing. For Lost, it might be enjoying Nestor Carbonell’s performance earlier this year, or Michael Emerson’s performance throughout the series; it might be getting swept up by Jin and Sun; it might be a fascination with Sayid’s tortured path; it might be the pleasure of the puzzle, and of endless guessing, hypotheses, and counter-hypotheses. Etcetera. But those are the things that non-watchers aren’t watching. Eventually, all they’ll probably know is that Lost began with a bunch of people who crashed on an island and ended with _______. And, yes, what fills that blank is likely going to make many people laugh. It already does. Smoke monsters, time travel, cursed numbers, and resurrection don’t instill confidence in too many non-watchers. So I wonder if fans who worry about “wasting” their time are simply expressing a concern that when it’s all over, others will think they wasted their time [and yes, I do enjoy discussing “the others” in a post on Lost].

This is where I diverge, though … and where surely many Lost fans should too. See, if you told me back in 2004 where the show would be now, let alone three weeks from now, I wouldn’t have signed up for the ride. Time travel is nearly always handled poorly. Smoke monsters? Alternate worlds? Not one, but two guys who can talk to the dead? Not the stuff I signed up for. But I’ve stuck around because somehow they’ve made it work, or between the bits that don’t work for me, I’ve found lovely moments and characters and storylines. The fact that I’m not alone, and that so many people are still here could on one hand suggest the huge market for science fiction, but we already knew that. On the other hand, it suggests how much the journey, not necessarily the conclusion, matters, even though our culture at large is fond of its mantra that the conclusion’s the thing.

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Time For Answers on Lost?

January 30th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

I had previously posted the following clip, but now have a few words in response. See, the thing is, I don’t really want a whole lot of answers on Lost. I like the idea that it’s just set in a world in which different things happen. Granted, I want some answers, but, for instance, if I never find out where Smokey came from, I’m fine; if I never find out why only four toes on the statue, I’m fine; and if I never find out what the numbers mean, I’m fine.

To all you who want a whole lot of answers, be careful what you wish for. Or, to reword: think of the midichlorians. Who cared why some people have The Force and others don’t? It’s not just suspension of disbelief we need, but suspension of needing to know everything. After all, our own world is hardly logical, and none of us can pretend to know why so many things happen here, so why do we need all the answers on Lost?

In short, if you’re out there Damon, it’s me Jonathan. And I’m saying, don’t tell me all the answers.

For those who want them:

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Preparing for Lost, Part 1

January 28th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

As Lost‘s final season edges closer and closer to airing, I thought I’d share this:


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Upfront Aside: The Emergence of Limited-Run Serial Drama

May 21st, 2009 | Ivan Askwith


With all of the standard noise and fanfare this week around the network upfront announcements, I almost didn’t notice this passing comment from Steve McPherson, President of the ABC Entertainment Group, about the forthcoming “re-imagination” of V:

“[It has a] normal order right now, 13 episodes. We really, from the beginning, want to craft a whole series, and we’d like to be able to announce what that is at the time that it airs. At this point we believe it’s going to be in four parts, and those will be anything from 13 to 22 episodes in each part. But it will have a beginning, middle and end,” he added.”

While the creative and business benefits of this approach will make intuitive sense to audiences of telenovelas (which are structured as long-form but limited-duration narratives) and non-American networks such as the BBC (where even mainstream hits such as “The Office” and “Life on Mars” end after only 1-2 seasons), it strikes me as proof of an important evolution among American television networks, where high-performing shows are extended indefinitely as “sure bets.”

The problem, of course, is that indefinite renewal works far better for some types of narrative (e.g, sitcoms, procedurals, episodic dramas) than others (i.e. long-form, evolving and complex narratives). I’ve addressed this topic in more depth in the chapter that I contributed to Reading Lost
, which considered some of the motives that compelled ABC to approve a firm end-date for Lost several years in advance.

In the closing paragraph of that chapter, I proposed that ABC’s unconventional (and intelligent) decision to let Lost‘s showrunners work toward an established ending could have significant implications for the future of American network television:

After LOST’s first season, critics and writers suggested that the show’s most important contribution was that it cleared the path for a new wave of television programmes with rich details and complex, rewarding narratives. If Fox is right, and LOST’s final three seasons demonstrate the importance of an established end date in developing a coherent and compelling serial narrative, the show may accomplish something even more important. It may provide the precedent for a new era of television narratives that have the freedom to end.

I believed it when I wrote it, and I believe it even more now. At the same event, McPherson — who authorized Lost‘s finite run — conceded that:

I think that was obviously a tough decision a few years ago to give it an ending, but I think it really paid off. This season was stronger than it’s ever been because there wasn’t an infinite middle to the show. So I think, giving them an end date, you’re going to see probably some of the strongest writing you’ve ever seen on the show, because they’ve been able to really retrofit from exactly where they want to end up.

To me, it looks like V is being granted the golden opportunity that Lost never got: the chance to plan a beginning, middle and end from the beginning. Here’s hoping V makes good use of it.

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The Best of 2008, 1: Television and Reading

December 30th, 2008 | Jonathan Gray

Inspired by Mike Newman’s fantastic and highly recommend Faves, 2008 list, and as a pale imitation, here are some media highlights from 2008, in installments.

First, though, a word on categorization – if I saw it in 2008, it’s on this list, even if it came out earlier; and if I saw it on the Internet, it’s web video not television.


10. Chuck. The show is infinitely silly, but that’s the point. Like Pushing Daisies, it kept me sane in hard times. Adam Baldwin, Awesome, Lester – fun stuff.

9. Food Network in HD. I knew when I got my HDTV that I’d love travel shows all the more, and nature shows. But I didn’t count on how much food porn I could stomach on a daily basis, and how that threshold would increase with HD.

Read more…

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The Alphabet Meme Chronicles

November 27th, 2008 | Jonathan Gray

(First, note the new design and look. On Thanksgiving, let us all give thanks to the “silent” member of The Extratextuals, Ivan Askwith, who makes the whole thing possible and recently updated our Word Press. Thanks Ivan)

Caught up in a fervor of alphabetical list making, I decided to follow up on the Alphabet Meme with a list of best television shows. There’s a slight bit of cheating involved at S/Z (ooo — very Barthesian, no?), but I couldn’t bring myself either to nominate Zoey 101 as the only Z show I know, or to choose between the two best shows in TV history, both of which inconveniently begin with S. I also went only for series or continuing shows, not one-offs (sorry, 28 Up). Without further ado:

The Amazing Race

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Cosby Show

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart


Freaks and Geeks

Goodness Gracious Me

Hockey Night in Canada

Iron Chef America

Jack & Bobby (neat idea, not super, but the J’s give little competition)

The Kingdom (the Danish one, not the American atrocity)


The Muppet Show

Northern Exposure

The Office (I’ll go with the American one, though Brit one gets a gold star too)

Pushing Daisies

Quantum Leap


The Simpsons

The Twilight Zone

Ulysses 31 (old school cartoon. Still have the theme song in my head)

V Graham Norton

The Wire (sorry, West Wing. You picked a bad letter to begin with)

The X-Files

Yes, Minister

Zesame Street

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