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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

TV Watch: What Did Lost Do To Television?

Lost's gift to TV was to return "high concept" shows to the mainstream. Idea shows like The Prisoner or heavy plot shows like The Fugitive were suddenly back on the table. You could have large casts with complex backgrounds and toy with the interactions between them. You could put polar bears on a tropical island.

So what the hell happened? Why have shows gotten so ... dumb?

Seriously, Heroes is quite lovable but you just can't be allowed to think about it for very long. How did Hiro go back six months and seduce Diner Girl ... and then not be remembered by her months later? Did she acknowledge that at all and I just missed it? She still had the Japanese phrase book - so they must have met. And how does Flying Politician go from being Flying Lawyer who will take down his father's mob tie to nearly completing a successful political campaign financed by father's mob tie in just six months?

And our girl Veronica - who wiffed on figuring out a suspect in an ATM photo ... her show has had a fair share of Olympic plot holes. Like who was really slipping mickeys (because the plot would seem to indicate both which defies the explanation) and how did Mercer slip out of his radio show so well? When did Mac get back anyway and how can we get to stop leaving?

Or take House. A detective is allowed - on the basis of a questionably legal search of someone's home that uncovered a stash of prescription drugs the size of a small garbage sack - to essentially shut down a critical oncology practice and target key physicians for similar treatment ... leading to hospital wide panic. All because ... that's his job? First thing Cuddy needs to do is fire the law firm of Shyster, Shylock and Shyster and get real legal representation.

How did this happen? Television is supposed to be getting smarter and acknowledging our smartness in return? On the bright side - every episode of Veronica is better than the last (though still pales to Season One) and they just got the greenlight for a full season ... so maybe as The Brother put it ... they can stop worrying and write a decent show. House is ... well, it's House. Trigger is just the necessary foil to keep the show from being a monster of the week marathon. And I'm guessing Heroes will decry a "it's like a comic book" sensibility to explain away why it ...doesn't make sense.

So no - not every show needs to have elaborate plots. Lost doesn't even seem capable of actually maintaining elaborate plots - it just strings clues in the disguise of a mystery. The bright points are, oddly, my Friday night sci fi shows. Doctor Who maintains a certain absurdist principal, sure, but it does it with a kind of vigor that begs to be taken seriously (and makes me rather excited to see Torchwood, I might add). And Battlestar is fairly hardcore emotional drama that pretty carefully dots the i's and crosses the t's to make their points.

Maybe Lost will redeem itself when it returns. Before then, we'll get Jack Bauer saving the world in what will undoubtably be an increasingly implausible manner from the last time.

Also, The Boondocks - quite possibly the smartest animated comedy on the planet - returns next March. The first season is on DVD and I highly recommend.



Weefz said...

Good points about VM recently. The end of the second season annoyed me immensely. Seriously... (minor spoilers coming up) I had chlamydia + you had chlamydia = you raped me! Not, say... my bf was cheating on me. Or got it from a previous girlfriend? Or someone else in the world has chlamydia?

wrt House, I think the search was probably technically legal due to falsified original police report, no? Weren't there trumped-up charges from the original arrest that could have supported the case a warrant searching for intent to supply? You're right that Cuddy and lawyers should be on the ball and I hope it'll happen in the next episode.

Josh said...

Season Two really ended pretty poorly for VM (imo) - the whole little league photo quite annoyed as well. Bringing back the rape thing was bizarre and Keith's deux ex machina escape was nearly sad.

And the best bit - the mysterious suitcase - turned into a quick write off for Season Three.

As for House, maybe I'm just too much of a Chicagoan. Right - they trumped up a reason for the warrant. Here though, if cops don't cross their t's around here, they can get into trouble if someone hires an expensive enough lawyer. The initial stop was questionable ... and so the search and seizure would be on the line ... which makes the frozen assets almost a fantasy. Especially this easily and quickly - it would seem more plausible that a lawyer could have this at least trapped in the court system for some time.

Course, House has kinda worked like this in the past. I suppose they need to cut corners on the uberplot so that they can keep the weekly action in the forefront.

Weefz said...

Well, I kinda forgot that House aired last night over there. I take it nothing sensible happened on the lawyer front in that episode? Will watch it later this week.

Josh said...

It continues much down the path it has.

The scenes with Trigger are at least good drama. I'll grant these aren't plot hole gone completely to waste.