As you may or may not know, Lost is the Number One TV show among the staff of Wicked Theory Laboratories Internationale, and it's coming to an end. And the future of TV looks bleak without it.
It's hard to say if another show will ever be devoured quite like it. By that I mean the ravenous dissection via repeat viewing that occurs when one becomes more than just a passing fan. Is that you? Do you remember looking up online screen-captures of the infamously mysterious Blast Door Map the day after it appeared? Did you re-watch episodes online as soon as they were up, searching for clues and nuggets of understanding? Did you trade theories at work with people you don't normally talk to? Do you think another show can ever do that again? Can another show ever give you reason enough?
All shows have their diehards. The fan who watches the exploits of their favorite on the net. Buys the DVD sets and a t-shirt. Maybe goes to a Show related convention, maybe dresses up as the villain from season three and gets an autograph from the shows coolest actors. For Lost, the fans might watch an episode like "The Constant" multiple times hunting for answers, but they buy the boxed sets to poor over them for even more understanding. The main pursuit here is for clarity. That's why they watch and rewatch: to solve the mysteries. A diehard fan of ColdCase or Buffy or ER or whatever show you like, rewatches an episode and relives a witty line of dialogue, a cool scene, a snarky guest star. By contrast a lost fan is on assignment. There is a task at hand.
Work to be done.
Peel back the layers. Analyze the innuendo laden speeches, the manipulations and half-truths. Decipher the grand plan that seems to be right there, just below the surface. For Lost fans it's all about figuring out the larger, true context of the series. The Mythos itself is the big draw. More than Kate's awesome butt or a wet, shirtless Sawyer.
Proof of this is in the fact that the show's main producers may very well be, in a sense, bigger icons to the Lost fans than the actors. Just ask a Lost fan if they'd rather spend an hour with Matthew Fox discussing Jack's inner demons, or a mere 60 seconds picking Carlton Cuse's brain for revelations.
Shows from the genre classics like The X-Files, Battlestar, Twin Peaks, The Prisoner on down to the scads of lesser faring shows like Threshold, Daybreak, Nowhere Man, etc., have only waded in waters which Lost chose to depth dive. Headfirst. These are dangerous waters to navigate and most shows break down when the mysteries are brought into the light. The raft of logic begins to come apart and soon, the secrets become almost meaningless.
So can another show one day come along and tap into this? Create a zeitgeist or fan fervor on par or greater than the one created by this crazy show? A show that seemed at first to be about some beautiful plane crash survivors (who lost their luggage but not their baggage) and in the end might just be really all about two characters not introduced until the end of season five. The answer is yes. Probably. It might be a while, but it could happen. There is hope for television that challenges you to think. To remember previous episodes. To try to solve the End-Game. That asks you to consider moral, philosophical and even religious questions.
The chances seem slim, but it could happen.
New "genre" shows will come along, that's for sure - but a show that engages you, that forces you to pay attention, to LISTEN... well, they're few and far between. Always have been. Heavy doses of subtext don't go over well on American TV. Case in point, the finale to The Sopranos.
(SPOILERS AHEAD for anyone who hasn't seen that yet.) It was always a show about subtext, and many fans didn't get it when the finale handed them even more. That ending was all about making you feel as paranoid as Tony must feel at all times. And that despite that very justified paranoia, his life must roll on. Dinner with the family as usual, at a little diner. Despite the fact that his daughter is late. Despite the shifty guy at the counter who might or might not be a hit-man waiting to pounce. Despite that his wife is a pain in the ass. Order the food without daughter Meadow? Yes, because life moves on. Where is his daughter? Oh, she's having trouble parking? Will somebody whack her? She makes it inside safely. Cut to black. Life moves on.
Point being that much like LOST, it was a show that used subtext and very well at that. Lost uses it mostly for obfuscation. (That's a word I learnt from X-Files!)
So when Lost ends there will be a void that FlashFoward and V and Chuck and Heroes just wont fill. Right now I fill that void in the days between episodes of Lost by trolling awesome sites like DarkUFO and Lostpedia - but, eventually it won't be enough. Soon, they'll be no Lost left.
I may have to load season one in the machine on that cold Monday after The End and start over. Actually, that sounds good. Maybe it won't have to end.