My latest short story "The Night the Lights Came On"

Friday, March 23, 2012

TV Memories 08 | Justin Macumber

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Like most Gen-Xers, I grew up on a steady diet of television. Some of my first memories are of watching SUPERMAN in grainy black and white, later graduating to shows like V and KNIGHT RIDER. Really it's no wonder that I became the sci-fi geek I am today. I doubt I had a chance of being anything else.

That said, for a long time I never considered television a medium for truly transcendent storytelling. Sure, there were the occasional episodes that rose to the level of true art (STAR TREK TNG's "Inner Light" and BABYLON 5's "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars"), but it wasn't until I watched Joss Whedon's FIREFLY that a TV show was able to get into my heart and soul and become part of me. Because FIREFLY was so good I knew I had to see if the rest of Whedon's shows could do the same, and thus began a long, wonderful journey into the glory that is BUFFY and ANGEL. Now I look back and wish I'd tried them sooner. Whedon is a master storyteller, and his characters are some of the most realized fictional people I've ever had the pleasure to watch. If you haven't watched his shows, I implore you, do so.

But, no other show in the history of television has affected, inspired, thrilled, and intrigued me as much as LOST. For six seasons I watched as a show about a group of plane crash survivors turned into a sprawling epic that was part science fiction, part fantasy, part horror, and part mystery. It's a mean feat to surprise me, but LOST did it at every turn. Just when I thought I knew what the show was about, it turned on its head and went in a direction I never saw coming. And the mysteries! First we wanted to know where they were, then what those strange sounds were in the jungle. Then we moved on to the smoke monster and the hatch buried in the ground. We wondered, "What do the numbers mean?" which led to The Others and Desmond. Then suddenly we had the Dharma Initiative, the Black Rock, and the freighter. And then, at the end, the greatest mysteries of all -- the Man In Black and Jacob. Every episode held secrets and clues, which I and thousands of others flocked to the internet to try and solve. I was hooked. In an age of DVR and time-shifted viewing, my wife and I watched LOST as soon as it hit the air every week, our eyes locked on the screen and our breath held in anticipation of what new wonder it would bring. And never, ever, were we disappointed.

But the show went beyond the TV set. The producers of the show created fake websites that interested viewers could go to and try to decipher. They also put out a book, a game, viral videos, and more, all of it in service of creating a show with a deep and intriguing mythology. You could enjoy the show without going after any of that, but true fans were compelled to explore every aspect of LOST that they could.

Now, much has been made of the finale, a lot of it negative, but to them I say, "Poop on you." I loved it. By the time the last shot faded out, I was in tears, as was my wife. For a show that covered so much ground and so many genres, that offered up so many mysteries, no one could have ended all that in a way that would please everyone, or even most. Luckily I was one of those who thought it was perfect. LOST was always about its characters, and it ended the same way. Some mysteries were solved, but a lot of answers were left undiscovered, and that's okay. In fact, I'm glad. Part of me will always be on that island, and so long as there are questions to ponder, my heart will be ready to trek into the jungle one more time.

To all the people involved in the creation of LOST, let me say thank you. You've already given me untold hours of pleasure, and with my Blu-Ray series collection clutched in my greedy hands, I know I'll get hours more. Namaste.

Justin is the author of HAYWIRE and the forthcoming A MINOR MAGIC. When not hard at work on his next story he hosts the popular Dead Robots' Society podcast. He and his lovely wife live in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex along with their motley pack of dogs and cats that they think of as their children. He's also a co-host on The Hollywood Outsider, a weekly podcast about movies and television, and Fit-2-Write, a show for writers concerned with health and fitness.

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