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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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A Different Ballgame: Lost on Mars
2006-04-18 07:40
by Jon Weisman

Years ago, I wrote about the value of backstory and character development in appreciating baseball:

... But I'm pretty sure the main thing that keeps me coming back to baseball is that I care about the characters. I've cared about the characters for more than 25 years. They are part of my life, and I care about just about everyone that makes an impression. And so many of them do - both major and minor characters.

Just the ones named Pedro alone could keep me occupied. Pedro Martinez. Pedro Astacio. Pedro Guerrero. Pedro Borbon. Pedro Borbon, Jr. If these guys are doing anything, whether pitching a shutout or using the disturbing but effective low-IQ defense, I care.

It's all about backstories. The Pedros have backstories. Kevin Brown has a backstory. Hiram Bocachica has a backstory. Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth - all-time backstories. All the teams, from the Dodgers to the Devil Rays to the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, have backstories. The sport as a whole has its own collective backstory. And then, when these actors take the field - either at the ballpark in front of you, or on television, or in a book or newspaper clipping, you have all this set-up to appreciate the significance of everything they do.

Baseball is a stage, a movie set, a comic-book world in which all these characters enter and exit and live and die. As you begin to care about one character and watch his journey, it snowballs and you begin to care about others upon others. It is not waxing mystical or fantastical to say that it is a world filled with drama and comedy and exhilaration and heartbreak. It just is - in a deeper, more evolved sense than any movie honestly can ever offer.

What a movie offers ... for better or worse, is that it ends. Baseball doesn't.

Now, you can get into arguments about why baseball, as opposed to football or curling. That's not what this is about. You can take the above philosophy and apply it to any sport or to all sports.

I happen to pick baseball - not to the exclusion of all others, but certainly above all others - for the ballpark and the hot dog and the rhythm of the game and so many other things. But the game itself is the set dressing - perhaps the best set dressing in the world, but a backdrop nonetheless.

The addiction is to the characters. Nothing else assembles a more compelling cast than baseball does.

There is something for everyone to love about baseball. If you want to share that love with someone, and that person doesn't seem to care about double plays or hot dogs, then start telling stories about the people who play the game. Give them the opening minutes of the movie - the part before the plot thickens. Think of what just hearing the name Odalis Perez or Adrian Beltre or Jim Thome evokes. Each has a story. And the next big chapter in those stories will reveal itself at the ballpark tonight. With chapters upon chapters to follow.

No special effects. None needed. Give anyone the characters, and see if down the road, that routine grounder to second doesn't become poetry.

Having said all that three years ago, I want to point out that the reverse is also true. Any baseball game can be entertaining even if you don't know anything about the teams or the players. The game can also be dull, but the potential for quality is there with every pitch.

The reason I bring this up today is to pick a beef with some television fans, fans of any of the many serialized dramas on the air today: Lost, The Sopranos, Veronica Mars, you name it. I talk to people, I read some critics and some message boards, and find a disturbing preoccupation with guessing outcomes, weeks, months or years before the endings will come.

Some folks particularly gang up on Lost, trying to solve the mysteries of the island and its characters right now. Keep in mind that Lost is a huge success and probably is good to run from this, its second season, through at least three more, into the spring of 2009. Nevertheless, people want answers immediately. In particular, the editors, writers and readers of Entertainment Weekly devote hundreds and hundreds of words each week to sussing out the ultimate ending to a show that won't end for years. To me, they are threatening the golden goose with death by a thousand keystrokes.

What's even more disconcerting is the lack of faith some people have that a brilliant serialized drama will have a satisfying ending. Yes, I know it went all wrong for Twin Peaks, but that doesn't mean that it will go all wrong for every program. More than one person I've talked to has complained that the producers of Lost seem to be "making this stuff as they go along." Uh, yeah. It's called creative writing. That's how we do it.

I've written for television shows with seasonal arcs and mysteries beneath the surface. I'll make no pretense about the epic quality of them - they were children's shows, and although I think they've been underrated, I'm not going to claim they were robbed of an Emmy. In producing these programs, the show runners do have some general idea about where they want to take the show, some knowledge of the mysteries and above all, intimate familiarity with the characters. But they don't know every last detail. They let smaller truths lead to bigger ones. A good story will, to a great extent, tell itself.

Now, I'm no different from most in wondering what's going on in Lost with the island and wondering what the show's about. If I read a crime mystery, I try to solve the murder. But I don't let these curiosities inhibit my enjoyment of the show. If it's a great ride, I enjoy the ride. And it's not as if any individual episode in any of these shows doesn't have a self-contained plotline or three that resolves itself in 60 minutes or less (or, to the irritation of my brother's VCR, 60 minutes or more).

April 5. Q: What's going on with Hurley? A: Well, for one thing, Hurley is schizophrenic. So that's one mystery solved, with (thankfully) other answers to come. That's something. One of the great joys of Lost is how meaningful the small revelations about each character can be. There is too much to explore on Lost to be worried so soon about tying up every loose end.

The latest article in this debate comes from Jeff Jensen of EW, who is perhaps the Frank Pembleton of Lost detectives, relentless in his pursuit of the case. Jensen is also a fan of Veronica Mars, but is threatening to abandon the show because it is "becoming too protracted, too twisty, and, yes, too Veronica Mars-ish for its own good."

Jensen picks on last week's episode, "I Am God," and says that it "may have been the creative high point of the season, steeped in so much plot, so much detail, so many great character moments and hilarious lines, that it really needed to be seen twice to be fully appreciated." This is a bad thing, he argues, because he doesn't have time to watch it twice. So now he's questioning whether he should watch at all.

Not having time to watch shows more than once - man, I can relate. Still, the idea of abandoning the show because I can't study it like it was the material for a final exam makes no sense to me. I absolutely protest the argument that it's better to skip the show than watch it only once and draw some joy from it but potentially have some things go over your head. Certainly, there is a limit to the amount of unfathomability one can take, but shows like Lost and Veronica Mars don't go anywhere near that limit.

It's bad enough that, as Jensen points out, the scheduling of Veronica Mars is difficult to track in Los Angeles thanks to, of all things, preemption by baseball telecasts. But TiVo, which many of us have, solves that problem. Let's not make it worse by complaining out loud that a show is complex or layered. The last thing we need is for network executives to get the message that television need to be dumbed down to retain an audience. It's practically criminal to let this train of thought out of the station.

If it's a choice between a show or a viewer feeling stupid in a given week, let it be the viewer. Don't be so fixated with trying to solve every mystery before the mysteries are over. The "I Am God" episode of Veronica Mars had a lot of seasonal arc stuff going on, but also had enough that was self-contained within the episode to enjoy. Television is just like baseball - it can be enhanced by the backstories of the participants, of the great and small characters in the game, but ignorance of those backstories doesn't mean you can't enjoy it.

If you need to have immediate complete understanding of an experience to appreciate it, you're setting yourself up for a pretty sheltered life. Let the good storytellers tell their stories. Let the seasons unfold. Don't undermine your own pleasure by trying to outwit the future.

Comments (73)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-04-18 07:54:08
1.   Sam DC
What a wonderful appreciation/reflection. It's funny, my wife and I missed the first season and a half of The Sopranos -- no cable -- and never started watching once we could because we figured we wouldn't get it, would miss too much. (Actually, I wouldn't watch for this reason; my smart wife always wanted to get started.) And we promised we'd get the DVD someday and do it that way. This season, we just broke down and started watching. And it's amazingly good (you all know this). I realize I'm missing a lot of what regular viewers get out of each episode, but I'm still getting something pretty great. Not the same as your point, but in the same ballpark.
2006-04-18 07:58:57
2.   Jeff Iannucci
Thank you John, you hit the nail on the head. When I watch Lost, Sopranos and 24, I don't want to figure out the whole story; I want to enjoy the escapism.

There are two different viewers for serialized dramas: the active viewer who wants to figure everything out and the passive viewer who wants to be – pardon the word – lost in the fictional world. Perhaps the former would be better served playing more Soduku.

2006-04-18 07:59:10
3.   Jon Weisman
I definitely think that relates, Sam. We all have a finite amount of time, and if we can fill it with something good - whether it's The Sopranos or a walk in the park - then that's a good thing, even if we aren't in full appreciation of the moment.
2006-04-18 08:01:47
4.   Sam DC
I posted this link, along with a lengthy description of the linked article, at the end of the last thread, but thought it worth moving up. The article describes a 33-inning AAA game in 1981, and contains gems like this: "In the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle the next morning, the game story began, 'Not since the time they had to shoot the drunken camel at the city zoo has there been this much excitement in Pawtucket.'" More than well-worth reading.

2006-04-18 08:11:21
5.   bluetahoe
I don't know about being lost on mars, but.....

Despite the injuries, I think we're looking good. The key is to get Drew and Kent hitting for power. I advocate that Nomar rehabs for 1 week in Vegas before returning to LA. I also advocated the same for Lofton, but I guess veterans don't do the rehab thing. If we get out this 1st month at .500 it should be smooth sailing the rest of the way. Our catalyst, Furcal, needs to put this pesky month of April behind him. Furcal getting out of April and the inevitable power that Drew and Kent will provide has me longing for warmth of May. Mueller has been better than advertised which has been a plus. We just need Nomar back and healthy ASAP. This offense is going to be a force to be reckoned with once the long balls start.

Our rotation looks to be getting it in gear. Penny has been a stud. Lowe proved his opening day was a fluke. Odalis is pitching like the Odalis of old. His offspeed stuff has been mesmerizing. Take away that 5th inning with the bleeders and the bloopers and the bunts and Tomko pitched brilliantly yesterday. And Seo was fantastic in his Dodger stadium debut as a starter.

As for the bullpen. Watch out when Gagne returns. The pieces seem to be falling into place here. Baez is an out machine. Saito has been unhittable and looks to dominate as the 8th inning man. Kuo has lost 2 but he's got filthy nasty stuff and he'll only get filthier as the season progresses. Osoria got his act together last night. Once Gagne returns it's going to be a 6 inning game again.

Heed my warning. Load up on suntan lotion. Cause things are going to get hot.

2006-04-18 08:13:05
6.   Sam DC
While I'm linking, the Onion thing linked in the Juice Blog is pretty darn funny.
2006-04-18 08:19:49
7.   still bevens
5 geez thats a reassuring assessment. Whats your take on the situation in Iraq?
2006-04-18 08:24:52
8.   Steve
In my brief glimpse last night into how the other side lives, when we got to our seatsan usher called down a mop and cleaned up a coffee spill at our feet. Lest you think that your money is only bring spent on Tomko.
2006-04-18 08:26:37
9.   Marty
I suspect this will be Xei Frank's least favorite post.
2006-04-18 08:29:34
10.   Steve
So would you please all start watching Invasion so they won't cancel it?
2006-04-18 08:38:19
11.   Howard Fox
can't watch invasion if it is the same time as deal or no deal....
2006-04-18 08:41:58
12.   Howard Fox
5 can't have Nomar rehab in Vegas, that might be the only 5 games he gets to hit before injuring himself again...

and if our season depends on the return of a slimmed down and less bulked up Gagne, then I am throwing in the towel already

2006-04-18 08:43:41
13.   Penarol1916
10. Invasion looks like a terrible show, I can't watch based entirely on the horrible ads and that blond woman just has an incredibly off-putting look.
I'm just greatful that Veronica Mars and Lost are no longer on at the same time.

One thing you miss Jon, is that the trepidation with Lost isn't just general trepidation with serialized drama (ala Twin Peaks), but with serialized drama from JJ Abrams, he so totally screwed up with an interesting set-up on Alias, and he did it multiple times with a good set-up and a ridiculously terrible conclusion, that one can't help but feel like he just can't come up with a good ending. It's like that discussion a couple of weeks ago about books and so many start out great, but the author is just completely unable to close it out.
I don't have such fears with Veronica Mars just based on how amazing the mysteries for last season were concluded, Rob Thomas just seems to be able to do it all. I'm sure that there always things that I miss on that show, but it is just incredibly entertaining.

2006-04-18 08:49:08
14.   Steve
I can't comment on ads since I haven't seen one for years.
2006-04-18 08:52:10
15.   Jon Weisman
13 - No one can guarantee a great ending. But to let the fear of a bad ending spoil the enjoyment of the good stuff while it's going on ... that doesn't make sense to me.

The 2006 World Series might be rotten. Should I tune out the baseball season? (That's a rhetorical question, folks.)

2006-04-18 08:59:47
16.   Penarol1916
15. It's not the fear of a bad ending, it's the fact that there are points that there is so little movement towards the ending that you can see in the show that writers don't know where to go, it just really spoils parts of the ride when you're just treading water, like most of the second half of the first season of Lost and a small period during this season before this latest run of good episodes, it's almost as if the ride comes to a halt because the roller coaster operater knows he's got have you on the ride for 2:30 minutes and he only made 1:30 minutes worth of ride.
2006-04-18 09:10:43
17.   Gen3Blue
I'm not sure why I haven't been able to get into TV serials for years. I thought about trying the Sopranos but before I did I gave up HBO.
Looking all the way down to Columbus in the Sallie league we seem to have some power at the corners. And this catcher named Apodaca seems to be hitting pretty well. I've never seen him called a prospect, but I notice he is only 19. With the state of Major league catching, he must have something major against him. Does anybody have any info on this?
2006-04-18 09:12:04
18.   Bob Timmermann
Good beginning, bad ending = 2006 NCAA men's basketball tournament. It had 61 pretty good games and then three dogs at the end.

"24" always starts out pretty fun and then at the end, you just roll your eyes and think "I put up with 23 hours before this for that!"

When "The Prisoner" first aired, it didn't have an "ending". So they went back and added two episodes (one was stuck in the middle) and then we got an "ending". People weren't happy.

2006-04-18 09:14:46
19.   Steve
I saw Apodaca play for Ogden last year (I think that was him). If I remember right, a short, compact guy. Good power, but playing in Utah, at altitude, will tend to do that. I got the idea that he was a work in progress, and that he was the kind of guy that could develop into a bona fide prospect, but he was a wait-and-see kind of guy.
2006-04-18 09:17:13
20.   King of the Hobos
17 Apodaca is our best catching prospect after Martin/Navarro. I believe he is an above average thrower and receiver (although I can't remember exactly), and he broke out with the bat last year at Ogden. He's displayed absolutely no power thus far into the season, although he hit for power last year
2006-04-18 09:24:17
21.   Jon Weisman
16 - I disagree with your assessment of Lost, but putting that aside, you're basically just saying the show isn't that good for long stretches, which is different from what I'm saying.
2006-04-18 09:29:13
22.   Gen3Blue
Thanks guys, lets hope Apodaca comes out of nowhere, so to speak. Some of the best players weren't prospects. And there are guys like X. Paul. Athletic, and still young. Hitting is the hardest thing, and sometimes it just comes seemingly all at once(I know this is rare, but in some cases its worth hanging in there).
2006-04-18 09:41:02
23.   Steve
I think with a 19 year old, there isn't much to do but sit and wait and hope. Though one had to question the chances of the 6'6", 130 lb. first baseman Ogden had last year.
2006-04-18 09:43:55
24.   Bob Timmermann
6'6", 130 lbs.?

I didn't know anorexics played pro baseball.

2006-04-18 10:04:40
25.   Underbruin
Jon -

"Keep in mind that Lost is a huge success and probably is good to run from this, its second season, through at least three more, into the spring of 2009."

This is a big part of my personal worries, and annoyances, with the show. I'm not a huge fan of shows that will continue as long as the money keeps rolling in, because it's a trap, in an emotional sense. Watching the show consistently causes an emotional attachment to the characters, and a personal desire to know how it ends. Especially with a series like Lost that, one would think, has a defined exit point for the show (everybody dies, everybody gets off island, etc... I think it'd be HUGELY disappointing to most of the audience if nothing was explained and the show ended with everybody just stuck there living out their lives).

But the whole point then changes if the goal is not to tell the best story, but to make the most money. Because I feel fairly confident that there has been a significant amount of material written in simply to pad out the episodes. I don't blame the writers of Lost for this... How do you think ABC's execs would react if they had a bunch of scriptwriters come up to them and say, "We know Lost has been one of the biggest shows in years, but we'd like to end it at the close of the 2nd season..."

Whether or not you agree with my opinion on the padding of the episodes, I think it's hard to argue with my belief that there is no chance any television chief would allow a hit show to end like that if s/he believed that the show could continue to make money. And here's where the -type- of show becomes part of the problem. Lost is, as I said above, a show that gets you emotionally invested in the characters. Which then allows the writers to get away with episodes where almost nothing whatsoever happens - because, hey, if you want to know what happens to all your buddies on the island, you're still going to have to tune in next week.

I much prefer shows that are designed more like miniseries, because no matter how profitable an extra episode might have been, they're done. It's been written with a definitive beginning, middle, and end, aired, and shown. Very few television shows on American networks nowadays would be willing to do the same with a 'tv show,' no matter how serialized.

2006-04-18 10:11:24
26.   oldbear
I'm a fan of TV shows going out on top. Seinfeld left at the perfect time, maintaining dignity.

Cheers on the other hand.....Or Coach.

2006-04-18 10:15:34
27.   Christina
My understanding is that JJ Abrams is actually not really involved with Lost anymore. He's got yet another new show that he's busy with, and it's some other guys who are running the Lost ship lately. Isn't this pretty much what happened with Alias - JJ got distracted by his other projects and stopped paying attention?

I do notice a difference this year in Lost. It's not about the mysteries; like Jon I don't mind that we're not getting all the answers right away. The difference I notice is in the overall atmosphere and mood of the show - apart from Henry Gale, the show simply isn't that creepy anymore. Remember how much creepiness season 1 had? Remember the pervasive menace every time a character ventured into the jungle?

Nowadays, large portions of the show are more like a typical relationship/soap-style drama than anything else. The island setting has become in many ways largely incidental; much of what we're seeing could be taking place on a regular TV show set in NYC.

I think a lot of this is because of the ongoing flashbacks. In season 1, I thought they were great for giving us some needed fleshing out of characters, and also because many of them were used to add to the island mysteries. Not so much, anymore. The Jack/Kate/Sawyer/Charlie flashback eps are the worst offenders, and Locke's are starting to slide in that direction too. I think they need to mostly do away with the flashbacks, except for ones that truly do add something substantial to the island mysteries, and give that airtime to the island goings-on. Bring the science fiction/horror feel back into the show more.

2006-04-18 10:20:52
28.   King of the Hobos
David Sutherland is listed at 6'6" and 175 lbs. Maybe not 130, but he's still extremely skinny. He does have 2 homers so far this season somehow
2006-04-18 10:27:22
29.   Penarol1916
27. I don't mind the lack of creepiness this season, because it seems like as people become more accustomed to the island and they find out more about what is going on, it is going to get less creepy.
2006-04-18 10:30:16
30.   Marty
This is my first year of watching 24. I like that I didn't really need to see any other season's episodes to be able to enjoy this season. This series seems unique in that as outlandish as the story may be, at least it's wrapped up in one season. Next season will be a whole new story line. Since it's my first season it's also easy for me to put up with the preposterous turns the story takes, like Cloe being able to instantly hack into any system at a moments notice. And that everyone seems to have never-ending battery life in their cell phones.

It's a little weird though to watch nervous, neurotic Cloe after seeing her do the exact same character in Larry Sanders. Without the computers of course.

2006-04-18 10:34:39
31.   Marty
I love Lost. But the thing that bothers me most about the show, is that much like Rose's husband in the last episode, it annoys me that the characters seem to take too much for granted on the island. If I was on that island, my mind would be consumed with the "others" and the unseen monster 24/7.
2006-04-18 10:40:18
32.   Bob Timmermann
At least from listening to the "Lost" podcasts, it seems that Carleton Cuse and Damon Lindelof are calling the shots.

Their podcast is quite funny and they seem to enjoy that fans are annoyed with them at times.

2006-04-18 10:41:47
33.   Jon Weisman
25 - I don't disagree with you for the most part. Again, I just have to reiterate my central arguments: Don't worry about a show being bad until it becomes bad. Don't wondering about the future diminish your enjoyment of the present.

In other words, smell the roses.

And again, if you don't like the smell of the roses right now, that's an entirely different topic. As far as that goes, I don't agree that Lost is yet suffering for its long-term plans. And I've got a real low tolerance for bad TV.

2006-04-18 10:43:12
34.   Jon Weisman
Carleton "Nash Bridges" Cuse. Funny how careers evolve.
2006-04-18 10:44:45
35.   Christina
29 True, but no matter how much they find out, the danger factor should remain high, and that's really the problem. The Lostaways are entirely too comfortable running around the jungle, even for trivial stuff like quieting an annoying treefrog.

It's like Sayid pointed out to Charlie a few eps back, no one seems to remember this stuff. The monster that killed the pilot, whatever it was that tried to drag Locke into a tunnel, really murderous Others - all of that is largely a nonentity this season. And while we've had deaths - yeah, I'm a little bloodthirsty - Boone was actually killed in a fall, and Shannon was killed by Ana-Lucia.

The pervasive menace is just a lot less. Instead, like Bernard complained, people are building kitchens and seem perfectly content to stay...on what is supposed to be a freaky dangerous island. Claire has a baby. Sun is pregnant. Yet no one is building another raft or finishing Bernard's SOS - even better, they all abandoned him to it because he was acting like a bit of a jerk, because his being nice was apparently more important than getting off the island. I know why Rose and Bernard don't want to leave, or Kate the wanted criminal, but there are 30-plus Lostaways and some of them should have a different view on the matter. But then again, why should they when the island is apparently so safe to live on?

And that's why the pervasive menace, and attendant creepiness, has disappeared. It's not a survival show anymore, because they no longer have to struggle to survive. They don't even have to worry about starving, now, thanks to the food drops.

I still like the show. But since JJ turned his attention away, it's gone from science fiction to more of a relationship drama. It's not so much that the mysteries aren't being answered; there's just fewer mysteries, period. I think in many ways Lost has been dumbed down to make it easier for viewers who couldn't keep track of all the questions, and to make it easier to syndicate the show later. Check out the Alias TPTB's explanations for why the episode cliffhangers that made S1 so fun went away - that was network insistence because it made the show easier to syndicate.

I should shut up now before Xeifrank shows up and kills me. How about them Dodgers?

2006-04-18 10:46:08
36.   Steve
Please ask Mason and Ireland if they have changed their minds:

Nationals general manager Jim Bowden was arrested and charged with driving under the influence while in Florida during his team's series against the Marlins last weekend.

If I was Jim Bowden, I would drive myself to drink too.

2006-04-18 10:52:50
37.   Jon Weisman
35 - False sense of security?

I've always preferred shows that use unusual settings to explore the human condition compared to shows that use unusual settings for the sake of unusual settings.

2006-04-18 10:55:52
38.   Sam DC
Boy Steve, I'm gonna have to turn in my press card. Anyhow, Bowden's statement from "On Sunday evening in Miami Beach, Fla., I was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. I intend to plead not guilty at a future date in a Miami Dade court. I deeply regret any embarrassment that my arrest may cause the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball. On the advice of legal counsel, I will have no further comment regarding this incident until the court proceedings are complete."
2006-04-18 10:57:37
39.   CanuckDodger
I disagree with Jon's apparent belief that "making it up as you go along" is synonymous with "creative writing." If you are writing something with the expectation that it will be coherent, everything has to fit together in a very precise way, which means either working with a detailed plan for a beginning, a middle, and an end, or finishing everything before publishing ANYTHING and then going back and editing what you have written to eliminate inconsistencies and loose ends. A novelist has the latter option. The writer of a TV series does not. A TV show is essentially "published" in installments, and that means a writer can't go back and rewrite something in season 1 to foreshadow a plot point in season 4 that was only thought of in season 4. J. Michael Staczynski's Babylon 5 stands as perhaps the only American multi-year T.V. series that can be called a true novel for televison because Straczynski was working from a detailed five-year plan that he tried to stay true to and that he adjusted only when production circumstances (like the threat that the fifth season would not be made, or the loss of certain actors) dictated the changes. By contrast, the overall story arc in the X-Files was an incoherent, confusing mess because Chris Carter and his writers really were making everything up as they went along.
2006-04-18 11:08:49
40.   bhsportsguy
37 - I think that is why I enjoyed shows like Picket Fences or Northern Exposure and yes to some extent, the first couple of seasons of the Gilmore Girls (okay I am now officially going to designated for assignment from Dodgerthoughts). But the reason I liked those shows is although the settings were somewhat quirky, the overall writing and character development made them really interesting shows.

I tend to think that those type of shows can only go so far before they do something like when Moonlighting put David and Maddie together and ruin it from that point on.

2006-04-18 11:11:59
41.   Jon Weisman
39 - "Making it up as you go along" is not the same as "making everything up as you go along."

Yes, if the producers of Lost knew exactly how many episodes they were going to have and had the time to plot out every detail of every one of them, you might have a better show. The fact that they don't doesn't mean a) they have no idea about future events or b) that the show isn't worth watching right now.

A television show is an organism. Uncovering one truth leads to another. Yes, there are places you may want to get to - I don't buy into the assumption that the Lost showrunners have no idea what the mysteries are. That being the case, when you have the tentpoles, the larger truths ... there's still room for spontaneity on the journey.

Whether the ending will be entirely satisfying, I don't know. Whether the show will eventually fall victim to padding, I don't know. In the meantime, all I'm saying is that if the show is good right now, just enjoy it.

2006-04-18 11:25:28
42.   Gen3Blue
And heres another bummer. I just noticed no Dodgers on DTV tonight. I'll have to decide wether to stay up just for Gameday.
2006-04-18 11:36:47
43.   Bob Timmermann
I watch "Gilmore Girls" so it would have to be a dual banishment, but the show is slipping in quality this year. I think it has one more year left because the new network needs one show with some renown to give it some PR.
2006-04-18 11:37:42
44.   Jacob L
I don't think I've watched any of the shows being discussed in this thread except for some Sopranos seasons long gone by.

My main t.v. gripe right now is how is it that all of those kids on The OC (including the one who hasn't gone to school in a year because she's shooting people and doing coke) got into Berkeley?

2006-04-18 11:41:12
45.   thinkblue0
since I don't watch tv much at all...except for Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld...I have NO clue what you guys are talking about.

This may have already been answered, but is Kent back in the lineup tonight?

2006-04-18 11:43:29
46.   Marty
So, thinkblue0 is actually Larry David. It all makes sense.
2006-04-18 11:45:13
47.   Bob Timmermann
My main t.v. gripe right now is how is it that all of those kids on The OC (including the one who hasn't gone to school in a year because she's shooting people and doing coke) got into Berkeley?

Legacy admissions.

2006-04-18 11:47:12
48.   scareduck
"Let the good storytellers tell their stories."

Obvious question: is Ned Colletti a good storyteller? My observation is that he is not. But at least he didn't go full-on Steve Phillips on us and gut the farm to win a weak division.

2006-04-18 11:58:20
49.   Daniel Zappala
44 I'll say the obvious. Clearly they couldn't get into Stanford.
2006-04-18 11:59:07
50.   Jon Weisman
49 - But Veronica Mars did. Despite almost never seeming to do any schoolwork.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-04-18 11:59:27
51.   Jon Weisman
48 - Ned is at least to some extent a cliched storyteller.
2006-04-18 12:01:04
52.   scareduck
51 - so you're saying that all his pitches are for sequels?
2006-04-18 12:01:10
53.   bhsportsguy
Sometimes it all about the timing for instance in MASH's long run, I have always thought that the best shows was during the first seasons when Mike Farrell (B.J.) and Harry Morgan joined the show and Larry Linville (Frank Burns) was still there. By then all the cheap frat humor of the early years was gone and Alan Alda was driving the creative and character development of the show. Now MASH went probably 3 or 4 seasons longer than it should have but obviously the show always had a problem because once the Korean War ended, no more show.
2006-04-18 12:02:33
54.   bhsportsguy
50 - At least they showed Rory (Gilmore Girls) getting into Yale on a legacy admission.
2006-04-18 12:06:38
55.   Bob Timmermann
Except that she is shown doing homework and studying and likely could have gotten in to a lot of schools.
2006-04-18 12:07:08
56.   Linkmeister
18 I only made it to this comment before I felt compelled to add my own two bits:

A-bloody-Men. Thoroughly disappointing final weekend that was.

2006-04-18 12:20:58
57.   Linkmeister
As you might imagine, there's a great deal of "Lost" coverage out here, both in the papers and on the local news (particularly the ABC affiliate, hah!). The show is a huge economic engine for an awful lot of businesses and for the film community. So we see articles which include quotes from writers who say that Abrams had a five-year arc planned, but that they fully recognize that if it gets into season four and looks to remain a huge hit they're gonna be at the mercy of the network execs saying "string it out, string it out." They even point out that if they say no, they'll just be replaced by other writers willing to do what the suits demand.

I enjoy the show, and we have a lot of amateur photographers who run around with camera phones and take pix of shoots. (See this thread at a Hawaii message board for some examples, along with wild speculation and discussions of the previous night's episodes for the entire season:

My biggest gripe is personal: I haven't had a "must-see" television show in years (not since "Hill Street") and I halfway resent having to budget my time around an hour on Wednesday nights. ;)

2006-04-18 12:32:49
58.   Underbruin
41 - "Yes, if the producers of Lost knew exactly how many episodes they were going to have and had the time to plot out every detail of every one of them, you might have a better show."

See, -that- is what gets to me. American shows aren't allowed to end until they stop making money. But by the time they stop making enough money to be allowed to die, far too often they've dipped significantly in quality for a long period of time.

What's most aggrivating about the situation is that, with many American shows it's not a huge deal because they lack serialization... But shows like a Lost, with a clearly linear storyline, suffer much more heavily. If you had to write 10 new Seinfeld episodes right now, fine (that's rather what Larry David has been doing for a few years, in effect, with Curb Your Enthusiasm). There really wasn't ever much of a 'storyline' to ruin, as each episode stands for the most part on its own (recurring characters exist, but are re-introduced fairly well each time the show up).

This is not the case with shows that have a single running storyline - extending the story means either changing the ending, or filling in the middle.

I'm not really picking on Lost, even if it seems like I am - I do like the show, it's just in a bad time slot for me (and I can't afford a DVR). It's a useful vehicle for my criticisms of the wider American television economic model. I'm not surprised at the way it works, nor do I think networks should stop doing it (it makes them more money). I'm simply lamenting the fact that what often makes more money can have a major negative impact on the shows themselves.

You're right in saying it's unfair to a show to dislike it because I expect it to be bad some time down the line. At the same time, I can like Lost, but expect it to suffer because I've seen it happen in the past to similar shows. Not liking a show, and expecting it to be much less worthwhile in the future, are two entirely different beasts.

2006-04-18 12:35:46
59.   underdog
42 The game is on WGN, for those of you not somewhere it's blacked out locally (and for those who can deal with watching the "enemy" announcers).
2006-04-18 12:37:45
60.   underdog
53 I totally agree about M*A*S*H - the best seasons were early BJ years, the best mix of comedy and deeper stuff, and before the cast started looking too long in the tooth.

Btw, speaking of Lost and the Dodgers, when do our boys in blue get off this mysterious island they seem to have crash-landed on? Why does every team they play seem like The Others right now?

2006-04-18 12:42:28
61.   Jon Weisman
60 - Intriguing premise ...
2006-04-18 12:48:55
62.   underdog
61 And I've started looking at different jersey numbers to see if there's a pattern that matches the one on the bunker, I mean, dugout.
2006-04-18 12:48:55
63.   Underbruin
60 - Would that make Flanders the mysterious monster? Or would that be Grittle?


2006-04-18 12:50:07
64.   underdog
63 This past weekend I was thinking the, or a, monster was the media coverage of Barry Bonds during the SF-LA series. Another monster could be the team trainers.
2006-04-18 12:54:24
65.   Underbruin
64 - Well-played, sir. Me like.
2006-04-18 12:56:25
66.   sactofan
While on the subject of TV...has anybody heard anything new or final regarding Arrested Development & Showtime?
2006-04-18 12:58:22
67.   Bob Timmermann
RIP, Arrested Development.
2006-04-18 13:12:31
68.   Marty
So, when the Dodgers are screaming WAAALLLLLLT! It is a cry for Alston?
2006-04-18 14:29:15
69.   underdog
68 That, or O'Malley('s ghost)?
2006-04-18 14:41:13
70.   das411
Surprised nobody has thrown "West Wing" into this conversation yet...
2006-04-18 16:29:02
71.   Andrew Shimmin
The West Wing is being euthanized, and I could be happier abot it. It's been pretty awful for three or four years, but I've just kept watching. Because I'm a sucker. I was able to cut the Simpsons cord when it became clear that they weren't going to make any more good ones. I dumped Law and Order a little late, but at all. But I just can't quit the West Wing.

I think this post explains why some of us have had Dodger ennui coming in to the season. The story line which had us glued to the tube (if gnashing our teeth and wailing, also) was aborted, and now we have to gin up an interest in Kenny Lofton and company. But I still want to see how Hee Seop Choi ends!

2006-04-18 16:30:10
72.   Andrew Shimmin
could not be happier about it.

I hope this thread is as dead as it looks.

2006-04-18 21:31:35
73.   outdoorminer
I wholeheartedly agree with Jon's thesis about not spending a lot of time trying to "figure out" shows as they're going on. I stay away from almost all fan discussions of TV shows just to avoid the endless speculation and endless nitpicking. What's funny is that when we get down to particulars about TV shows, we often part company: I thought Twin Peaks had just the little bump at the beginning of the second season, but it recovered nicely and was first-rate again by the end of the season (and Fire Walk With Me was a superlative coda), and to me, Cheers was consistently high quality for its entire run.

I also think the fears about Lost turning disappointing are not misplaced. I adored Alias' first three seasons, but holy cow, it became unwatchable fast in s4 - characters I knew and loved turned into caricatures mighty fast, and the show seemed like it was suddenly written by Spy Story 090 students. It's not an unreasonable assumption that Lost will suffer a similar fate, and yes, then to some degree all the time we spent watching its early run will end up feeling wasted. My biggest fear is that Lost's big "reveal" will be Sloane in a control room up at the Black Rock, wielding control over the island, which turns out to have been the biggest Rambaldi device ever.

While I'm stating minority opinions, the entire three albums of Sandinista! were freakin' brilliant and I get really tired of everyone automatically saying that "it'd make a great one/two albums if it had had an editor." And Interpol really doesn't sound that much like Joy Division.

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