Listen, “Lost” was a great show. Not the best acted, best written show. No. But the way it managed to be intriguing enough to appeal the snobbish cable watchers and accessible enough to capture the interest of nearly everyone else is sort of a god*mn miracle. Viewers tuned in who were puzzled by its mysteries and addicted to the soap opera love triangles. I know some who were, until the (bitter, so bitter, still bitter) end, analyzing every minute mythological angle and others who were just as assiduously analyzing every angle of Josh Holloway’s abs. It was sort of this weird, bloated unifier. Not to mention a cash cow for ABC. So it’s no surprise that ever since its debut in 2004, folks have been trying to recapture that “Lost” lightening in a bottle.
But even Ben Linus is like, b*tch please. As far as I can see, “Lost” had five aspects working it its favor. First the “Bottle Episode” nature of the Island setting, a dynamic that worked so well for Gilligan and the crew or the folks confined to their ships on “Battlestar Galactic.” On “Lost,” separate groups may have broken off and bushwhacked their way from one side to the next, lived in Hatches, lived in Barracks, but, eventually, they had to regroup (unless they got off the island or, you know, died). Secondly, there was the Different People From Different Walks Of Life Forced To Work Together dynamic which provided great dramatic fodder. Thirdly, the flashback format, which didn’t last the entire run of the series, but did, for the first few seasons, provide the meat of the show. The ironic juxtapositions between past and present and the slow revelations of character nuance gave the show its heart. Fourthly, the tropical setting which allowed our beloved Losties (what a highly attractive flight) to wander around in various states of undress without it seeming TOO inorganic and exploity. And, finally, the Smoke Monster/Glowing Pond Jacob/MiB Sci-Fi Mumbo Jumbo. Which was fun, which drove the mystery, but which should never have driven the show itself. That task belonged to the people, the Lostaways, the characters we came to love (Hurley!) and loathe (ugh, Kate, forever Britta-ing things up). So while these 8 show may have one or several of these aspects, they weren’t able to (or haven’t yet) hit that sweet spot. That Universalist Unitarian Meeting House In The Sky. So give it up, TV producers and move on so we can too. We’re never going back.
“The Event” (2010): I wanted so much for this not to be terrible. With a great cast and a good premise that combined the Lostian sci-fi AND character study, it should have been great. I think, perhaps, the scope was too large. We needed the borders of that island to keep the sprawling cast and constant plot twists somewhat contained.
“V” (2009-2011): Listen, I know this show was based on previous material, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a blatant attempt to capitalize on the “Lost” audience. Like “The Event,” this is an alien invasion show, they roped in Scott Wolf, the poor man’s Matthew Fox, and hey, look, it’s Juliet! She won’t be the last Lostie on this list.
“The Nine” (2006): Yup, there’s Scott Wolf again. Remember when he was the more famous of the Salinger brothers? This show borrowed heavily from the “Lost” flashback dynamic. Present day struggles were illuminated by flashes of a bank robbery where these nine people (from Different Walks Of Life) were held hostage. You know what it needed? More smoke monster and shirtless fishing scenes.
“My Generation” (2010): Oooof, cancelled after two episodes, this show had all of the hype, all of the flashbacks, and none of the, um, what do you call it, oh yes, talent.
“Flash Forward” (2009-2010): Oh this show had so much promise. It debuted the same year as “V.” As in two thousand and holy-sh*t-“Lost”-is-ending-let’s-throw-these-shows-at-the-audience-and-see-what-sticks nine. Another top notch cast including a Feinnes brother, a “Coupling” star, Harold, Courtney B. Vance (nothing is cooler than his actual name), Charlie and Penny. Of Desmond and Penny. Penny, the constant, sweetly beating heart at the center of the “Lost” universe. Way to squander her, jackasses. In this instance the plot, based on a novel, features flash forwards instead of flashbacks and, ultimately, like “The Event,” the show suffered from too broad a scope. You can’t jam pack the screen with a cast this talented and compelling and then allow them to scamper wherever they chose. Oh, also, thank God this was cancelled. What would “Happy Endings” be without
Temple Grandin Dave?
“The Walking Dead” (2010-): Oh don’t you dare argue with me. This show has gone to sh*t and that is fact. Once again, I do not care that this show is based on a comic book (graphic novel?). We’ve got some classic “Lost” elements including the Different Walks Of Life and, yeah, the “Bottle Episode.” Because while there are no literal shores hemming this crew in, they’re almost constantly surrounded by throngs of zombies. Kids go missing (WWWAAAAAAAAAAALT). Showers are not readily available so we see a lot of sweaty cleavage from Lori. Okay, fine, it’s sweaty sternum. Anyway, why is this show sucking so hard this season? In a word, Andrea. At least “Lost” had the decency to dispense with their most obnoxious characters. BAM! Shannon. BOOM! Ana Lucia.
“Heroes” (2006-2010): Oh, this one hurts because it was almost SO good. In fact, it was good…for a time. Borrowing heavily from the X-Men franchise, this show had sci-fi to spare and that Different Walks Of Life thing in spades. But like so many of the shows on this list, there weren’t enough boundaries. Some of the characters didn’t even know each other. How can we track all the new things? Oh you want to keep adding more characters with new shiny powers? WHAT IS GOING ON? WHY DON’T I LIKE VERONICA MARS IN THIS? I DON’T EVEN CARE ABOUT THAT CUTE JAPANESE LESBIAN ANYMORE. This show gave us Zachary Quinto and, for that, I will always be grateful. But I resent it even more than the sh*ttier offerings on this list because it was *so* close to greatness.
“Once Upon A Time” (2011-): Okay, America, listen up. I don’t get what you see in this show. This one is actually hewing closer to the “Lost” model than any other show on the list. We’ve got the Bottle Episode (they can’t leave town…cause of…magic), flashbacks that inform the current plot, the Different Walks Of Life thing and a heap ton of sci-fi (really, fantasy) mumbo jumbo. But that doesn’t mean this sh*t is any good. It’s not. In Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin (actresses I usually kind of like) we’ve got two of the blandest, milk-sopiest leads in recent memory. The kid is more annoying than Walt. One “Big Bad” acts like she’s in a different show entirely, the other…well…actually Robert Carlyle is the only bright spot on the show. I’ll leave him alone. Also, what is up with the production design? Why do all the fairytale scenes look so vulgar CHEAP? Why is the dialogue so labored and wooden? WHY IS LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD DRESSED LIKE THAT ALL THE TIME? Ugh, this show. It’s not “Lost,” people. It’s not even fit to shine the fourth toe on that Mysterious Island Statue Of Mystery.
Listen, if there’s one show that’s an heir to the “Lost” empire, it is, oddly, “American Horror Story.” I’m not sure the tension and the mystery can be maintained, but the Ghosts From Different Walks Of Life Bottled Together With Some Sci-Fi Mumbo Jumbo And Plenty Of Scantily Clad Attractive People Who Sometimes Flashback To That Time When They Died is what this show is all about. It’s about to have its season finale next week, but it’s not too late to check out the crazy and speculate along with the rest of us.