In a nutshell: The best plane crash television since Les Dennis‘s televised nervous breakdown.
The 411: You gotta respect the classics. Plane crash survivors walk from the wreckage to find themselves on a desert island? That’s gotta work.
Well, that’s not strictly true. Filmed on location in Hawaii, Lost could easily have been an expensive turkey. That it’s been a success is down to its ability to put a new twist on an old situation and a knack of avoiding the crushingly obvious.
"Chances are he saw a rotor blade closely followed by his arse flying past his shoulder blades. And he was so pleased with himself for having survived. Well done, fucko. "
The first episode, right in the midst of the immediate aftermath of the crash, is stunning. A survivor staggers past the still rotating engine and is sucked in and shredded to bits. I wonder if he saw a tunnel with a light at the end? Chances are he saw a rotor blade closely followed by his arse flying past his shoulder blades. And he was so pleased with himself for having survived. Well done, fucko.
The strong characters quickly emerge – alpha male doctor, Jack , gorgeous criminal, Kate,wisecracking redneck, Sawyer and the mysterious Locke, an apparently miraculously-healed wheelchair user with an uncanny knowledge of wilderness survival.
The extreme circumstances give a chance to explore character. Much of the exposition is done through flashback – of the plane’s rapid descent and the lives they left behind. Everyone is harbouring some secret or trauma – heroin addiction, armed robbery and murder among them.
If you believed half of these stories you’d never set foot on a plane again. You’d feel safer taking your chances on the Al Qaeda 747 Hijack Shuttle than with this shower of degenerates. Even money the pilot crashed the plane rather than spend nine hours a mile above the ground with the 70 deadly sins breathing down his neck.
“If you believed half of these stories you’d never set foot on a plane again. You’d feel safer taking your chances on the Al Qaeda 747 Hijack Shuttle.”
Unsavoury fellow-travellers are the least of their worries, however, as unseen gigantic creatures stalk the jungle like fairy-tale monsters carving up flesh and crushing bone like it were ash. Having survived by the skin of his tits, his cockpit arse end up in the jungle, the pilot gets eaten by one. Imagine the turds they leave.
The group soon splits into two, one occupying caves in the forest, one remaining on the beach. The cave dwellers quickly realising that no one is coming to save them any time soon, the beach heads preferring to see the coconut shell as half full. And possibly avoiding the giant turds of the hairy monster things.
Lost manages to create the aura of mystery without plunging into witless Carnivale style opacity or turning into a caricature Monster Of The Week format. For this, much props go to executive producers J.J. Abrams, the creator of Alias, and Damon Lindelof (Crossing Jordan).
So is it social allegory, Lilliputian nightmare or just balls-out adventure? Maybe a bit of all three – the important thing is that it works and that ABC has gained some of the ground lost on the trail-blazing HBO and Fox. Who says you can’t just throw a bunch of money around and make good telly?
The best thing about it: Scary monsters! You never see them.
The worst thing about it: Idiot screaming woman. You always see her.
The verdict on Lost : Island life is coming up.
Marks out of 10: 7.5