Monday, November 06, 2006

Charity Quilt Auction Does Big Business, and Why "Lost" Is Sucking It Right Now

Been cleaning up the place today. Dragging the vacuum around the apartment and running loads of laundry and whatever else. Just as exciting a Monday as you could want. On Saturday Peggy and I went up to Newton County for my mom's Quilt Guild charity auction. My mom and her friend, Helen, ran this year's auction and made a few changes from the way it's been run in previous years. Like hiring a professional auctioneer for one, and airing a television commercial for another. Last year the auction grossed a little under $10,000. This past Saturday the auction grossed a little over $14,000. Not too shabby. So congratulations, mom. Good job.

Hmm, what else? Watched a couple episodes of "Lost" yesterday on videotape. (Thanks again, Pat!)

I'm slightly less down on the show than I was a week or two ago on account of the writers dribbling a few teasing glimpses of what's really going on over the last couple episodes, but only a little. I think part of the reason the show's suffering right now is that three of the big players, Jack, Sawyer, and Kate, are currently moldering in primate cages away from their fellow survivors. In terms of narrative momentum, this is akin to weighing anchor. The writers must recognize the effect this is having because every now and again the writers have the "Others" take the principals out of their cages (and Jack's cell) to show them something (a funeral or an illuminating vista) or do something to them (hard labor, unnecessary surgeries) or have them do something for them (necessary surgery), but none of our heroes has a real say in what they're doing. By nature of their position as prisoners, they're only reactive instead of proactive. It doesn't take long for reactive characters to get boring.

The show isn't doing much better on the other side of the island. Even with characters unconstrained by literal cages, they can't figure out what they ought to do with themselves. So until they figure it out, the characters (including a few new ones) trudge off to old sets and have run-ins with monsters of seasons past but shed no new light on the nature of these monsters. Revelations saved, no doubt, for season 8, if they get that far. The uncertainty the writers obviously feel about what to do next with their show is reflected in the actions of the crash survivors' new leader, Locke. After the hatch "implosion" (does anyone else wonder how exactly a person can be blown clear of an implosion?), a mute and befuddled Locke ups and constructs a sweat lodge so that he can have a vision of how he should be spending his time for the next few episodes. I don't know how much farther into a novel I'd read if, somewhere in the middle of it, the hero decided out of nowhere to take some mescaline and then use the hallucination he just had to inform his course of action, but that's exactly what JJ Abrams is asking his viewers to do. "Keep watching," JJ's telling us. "It gets better." Not sure if I'm going to be able to go along for his seat-of-the-pants, make-it-up-as-I-go-along joyride for much longer. Four million other viewers have already given up this season. There's only one more episode (or is it two?) and the show goes on 13-week hiatus and starts up again next year. I wonder how many fewer viewers "Lost" will have after they return from their long hiatus.

I don't know. Even the best of these sequential shows lose their way if they're allowed to go on too long. Look at "The Sopranos". The fall-off in quality on that show hasn't been calamitous, but it's certainly been noticeable. A few do manage to keep it up: "West Wing" was good right up until the end after a season or two in the doldrums, each season of "The Wire" has been consistently amazing even into its fourth season, but few storylines can sustain such a long arc, and shouldn't be expected to. I'm really starting to think the Brits do it right. A couple seasons, maybe just one, and then they brush off their hands and walk away to think of the next one.

Anyway. That's my "Lost" rant. I gots to go finish the laundry, so I'll just say good night, er'rybody.


blankfist said...

Good point about reactive characters becoming boring. I hadn't put my finger on exactly why Lost was exceptionally a let down this season, and I think that's a fair assumption as to why. You should write a novel or something, mr. smarty man.

I don't know if I'll give up on Lost anytime soon, because I just feel as though I've invested way too much time and effort in piecing together all of the questions from the first season. Man, do I have the JJ Abrams egg on my face, huh?

I haven't watched the last episode, yet, but plan to tonight when I get home. I have that and Heroes to catch up on. It doesn't sound like this ep of Lost will be earth shattering.

harwell said...

Agreed - nice summary of a big problem with LOST. My complaint from episode one this year was that they focused ONLY on Jack, Kate, and Sawyer. I didn't care if they were in a cage or on top of a birthday cake; to me it was a let down to not show us what the other characters were doing. Essentially, it wasn't until episode 3 before they got around to it and by then I had become so annoyed with watching Jack, Kate, and Sawyer be annoyed that the whole thing was just annoying.

Did you notice in the last episode that two new characters just popped up, even though they've presumably been there since the plane crash? I don't get the motivation to do that. Makes me feel like the producers think we're stupid enough not to be bothered by the fact that two people have been on the island for a month and none of these other people we've become invested in have bothered to talk to them that whole time.

Here's a question: should they abandon the flashbacks at this point? Sometimes I think these are easily the most intriguing part of the show. And yet they take up so much real estate within the individual episode. Time that could be spent, I don't know, explaining some solitary thing...

More important question: does anyone in their right mind think this idea of a "fall season" followed by a thirteen week break is a good one???

Craig Moorhead said...

It really is X-Files all over again. Man, did anybody care about Eko being chased by black smoke, hallucinating his brother, and then dying? Wasn't that exactly what Locke used to do? Then Michael? And everybody else?

Treading water.

But I've discovered a good way to watc 'Lost' and actually enjoy it. Watch the first episode of the season, an episode right around the middle, and the very last episode. That's pretty much what I did for the second season and I thought that was pretty good.

But, yeah, I'm off the 'Lost' train.

blankfist said...

You are the Lost train. Not sure what that means, but...

I finally got around to watching the last Lost episode last night (being that the new one comes on tonight, I thought I'd better catch up). Major let down. And the whole time I was watching, I was thinking 'they're reacting instead of doing'. Although, Eko was kinda being a doer, I guess, still, Crane's point kept bouncing around my noggin', and it really detracted because it's so damn true. Oh, and, hey, Harwell, those two people who popped up in the last show had been set up in the season opener, although that's no excuse.