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Old 05-27-2010, 05:50 PM   #1
Pitman
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So When Did Lost "Jump the Shark"?

Every season of Lost has had its ups and downs, of course. For me, though, the sixth and final season was a huge disappointment, and the finale perhaps the most disappointing of all.

I've been thinking a lot lately about where Lost went off-course, and I kept coming back to something I noticed last fall, before Season Six started. During this time period, I re-watched Seasons 1-5 on Blu-Ray, to get all hot and bothered for Season Six.

And I noticed something. To me, LOST has a clear "jump the shark" moment, but oddly enough, that moment does not appear in an episode, but BETWEEN episodes.

To me, there is a clear qualitative difference between the FIRST three seasons of Lost and the SECOND three seasons of Lost. In other words, the "jump the shark" moment is essentially when Darleton and ABC agreed that there would be only a certain number of episodes left in the series and began figuring out what those seasons would be.

Those last three seasons have some major differences with the first three seasons. First, they are substantially shorter. Second, they are far more fast-paced and action-oriented (I don't necessarily say plot-oriented) than character-oriented. Third, though producers told us that they had the whole rest of the series mapped out, I don't think this was actually the case.

But let's focus on the first two. If you go back and watch Season 1 or Season 2 on DVD or Blu-Ray, you will be struck by all the little moments in these episodes, all the little bits of characterization, all the small subplots and little journeys that don't add to the mythology but rather add depth to the characters and build the relationships between them. Think of Michael and Sun, think of the episode-ending music montages, think of all of the little moments. These all but vanish in the last three episodes, and their loss is striking--so much so that when Hurley shares a candy bar with Ben Linus it is HUGE, because those moments had all disappeared by that point in time.

Though only a relatively limited period of time passes on the island during the first three seasons, much of it is quality time in terms of building the characters and their relationships among themselves. It's a good thing, because in this regard the series coasts from seasons 4-6.

If you look at those last three seasons, what you see is that time is compressed even more, and the pace becomes frenetic. The entirety of season 4--the whole darn season, if you can believe it--is taken up with one thing: trying to get on the freighter. That's it. That's all there is. Lots of running back and forth, lots of shooting, Ben gets beat up some, but the whole season is what, a couple of days?

Season 5 is just as bad. The first part of the season is taken up by Flashy Stuff/The Island's Greatest Historical Hits, and the second part occurs during the very brief interval between when Jack, Kate et al are infiltrated into the Dharma Initiative and when they decide to blow up the island. The only character development occurs between Sawyer and Juliet.

Season 6 also occurs only over the span of a couple of days. Irrelevant characters introduced and killed (the Temple folk), running around, Ben gets beat up some, wacky finale. No character development at all in this season, just a lot of purposeless running around.

Sure, the first three seasons have their weaknesses (who cares about Jack's tattoo and kite fetish). However, the pacing was far better, the emphasis on developing relationships between the characters was far better, and there was a better balance between character and mythology.

In seasons 4-6, character and relationship building was almost abandoned and the mythology was moved more to center stage. That second part I don't mind, as I am a mythology man far more than anything else, but you can't do something like that unless you follow through and deliver the goods, and season 6 was a notable--indeed it will probably become an infamous--example of failing to deliver on the promises of a mythology. As a result, Season 6 seemed to fail on every front. It did nothing for character and it ended up disappointing on the mythology.

If I had my druthers and could dharmatize my fat *** back in time myself, I'd require seasons 4-6 to be 20+ episodes each, so that relationships and mythology are more balanced and the pacing is more even, and I'd require that more thought be given to a mythology pay-off. I'd also force Darleton to put $1,000 into a kitty every time they wanted to have an emotional re-union scene.
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Old 05-27-2010, 09:32 PM   #2
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Re: So When Did Lost "Jump the Shark"?

Far as I can see, Lost jumped the shark the minute an invisible monster started making weird mechanical sounds in the trees in the pilot episode. After that, anything could possibly happen, and for the first couple of seasons I was usually disappointed when it didn't.

If by "jumped the shark" you mean "went beyond your own personal taste" then I'd say the end of Season 4 was a close shave for me - the donkey wheel/moving the island thing was so out of the blue, I didn't quite understand it at first. Fortunately, I didn't see it on original broadcast and only on a DVD, quite close to the opening of Season 5, so it wasn't too long before I got a better resolution.

If you're talking about Seasons 1-3 being different to Seasons 4-6 then yes, I agree with you - it's obviously totally deliberate. "Through the Looking Glass" is the clue. One half is different to the other. I'm in the camp that prefers the second to the first half, but it's absolutely true that the first three seasons take a more leisurely pace. Seasons 4 & 5 are definitely more action oriented.

I wouldn't say that of Season 6 though. Seems more character-focused to me. The whole premise of the alt timeline is based around the major characters. Everything that happens on the island is about the characters. The mythology bits are really confined to Eps 9 and 15 and they're totally character driven.

I don't think Lost ever went "off course". If you want the honest truth, I hated "The Moth" in Season 1 when I first saw it. I've revised my opinion since then, but only because the show improved. Thank God I watched it again because a lot of my friends didn't.

Whatever - I'm rambling. When did Lost jump the shark? For me - Charlie's rubbish backstory in "The Moth". And then it got better.
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Old 05-27-2010, 11:40 PM   #3
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Re: So When Did Lost "Jump the Shark"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitman View Post
Every season of Lost has had its ups and downs, of course. For me, though, the sixth and final season was a huge disappointment, and the finale perhaps the most disappointing of all.

I've been thinking a lot lately about where Lost went off-course, and I kept coming back to something I noticed last fall, before Season Six started. During this time period, I re-watched Seasons 1-5 on Blu-Ray, to get all hot and bothered for Season Six.

And I noticed something. To me, LOST has a clear "jump the shark" moment, but oddly enough, that moment does not appear in an episode, but BETWEEN episodes.

To me, there is a clear qualitative difference between the FIRST three seasons of Lost and the SECOND three seasons of Lost. In other words, the "jump the shark" moment is essentially when Darleton and ABC agreed that there would be only a certain number of episodes left in the series and began figuring out what those seasons would be.

Those last three seasons have some major differences with the first three seasons. First, they are substantially shorter. Second, they are far more fast-paced and action-oriented (I don't necessarily say plot-oriented) than character-oriented. Third, though producers told us that they had the whole rest of the series mapped out, I don't think this was actually the case.

But let's focus on the first two. If you go back and watch Season 1 or Season 2 on DVD or Blu-Ray, you will be struck by all the little moments in these episodes, all the little bits of characterization, all the small subplots and little journeys that don't add to the mythology but rather add depth to the characters and build the relationships between them. Think of Michael and Sun, think of the episode-ending music montages, think of all of the little moments. These all but vanish in the last three episodes, and their loss is striking--so much so that when Hurley shares a candy bar with Ben Linus it is HUGE, because those moments had all disappeared by that point in time.

Though only a relatively limited period of time passes on the island during the first three seasons, much of it is quality time in terms of building the characters and their relationships among themselves. It's a good thing, because in this regard the series coasts from seasons 4-6.

If you look at those last three seasons, what you see is that time is compressed even more, and the pace becomes frenetic. The entirety of season 4--the whole darn season, if you can believe it--is taken up with one thing: trying to get on the freighter. That's it. That's all there is. Lots of running back and forth, lots of shooting, Ben gets beat up some, but the whole season is what, a couple of days?

Season 5 is just as bad. The first part of the season is taken up by Flashy Stuff/The Island's Greatest Historical Hits, and the second part occurs during the very brief interval between when Jack, Kate et al are infiltrated into the Dharma Initiative and when they decide to blow up the island. The only character development occurs between Sawyer and Juliet.

Season 6 also occurs only over the span of a couple of days. Irrelevant characters introduced and killed (the Temple folk), running around, Ben gets beat up some, wacky finale. No character development at all in this season, just a lot of purposeless running around.

Sure, the first three seasons have their weaknesses (who cares about Jack's tattoo and kite fetish). However, the pacing was far better, the emphasis on developing relationships between the characters was far better, and there was a better balance between character and mythology.

In seasons 4-6, character and relationship building was almost abandoned and the mythology was moved more to center stage. That second part I don't mind, as I am a mythology man far more than anything else, but you can't do something like that unless you follow through and deliver the goods, and season 6 was a notable--indeed it will probably become an infamous--example of failing to deliver on the promises of a mythology. As a result, Season 6 seemed to fail on every front. It did nothing for character and it ended up disappointing on the mythology.

If I had my druthers and could dharmatize my fat *** back in time myself, I'd require seasons 4-6 to be 20+ episodes each, so that relationships and mythology are more balanced and the pacing is more even, and I'd require that more thought be given to a mythology pay-off. I'd also force Darleton to put $1,000 into a kitty every time they wanted to have an emotional re-union scene.

except your theory doesn't work since before season 3 was even done they got an end date. so they shot it according to the end date. if they had not gotten the end date, they would not have shown most of the second half of season 3 the way it played out.
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Old 05-28-2010, 01:40 PM   #4
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Re: So When Did Lost "Jump the Shark"?

That doesn't affect my point at all.
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Old 05-28-2010, 03:48 PM   #5
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Re: So When Did Lost "Jump the Shark"?

I thought they were always planning on only doing 5 seasons, and we only got 6 because the strike cut things shorter beforehand & they had to make it up.

Honestly I don't know that Lost had a clear "jump the shark" moment. And as for seasons 1-3 being different than 4-6, well most shows with ongoing plotlines are like that, you set things up in the beginning and then go deeper into it. Look at Babylon 5 or the X-Files if you want examples, the earliest seasons of both were drastically different than when they got deeper into the plot (I consider Two Fathers/One Son in season 6 the "proper" end of the X-Files mytharc, but that's another fanwank entirely).
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Old 05-29-2010, 03:11 AM   #6
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Re: So When Did Lost "Jump the Shark"?

At least a couple of times per season. Any show worth its salt does.
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Old 05-29-2010, 05:54 AM   #7
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Re: So When Did Lost "Jump the Shark"?

When 71 people and a dog survived the mid-air breakup of a Boeing 777 at 35,000 feet.
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Old 05-29-2010, 08:53 PM   #8
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Re: So When Did Lost "Jump the Shark"?

In retrospect, I'd put the jump at the Temple arc. Everything before had momentum and a continual sense of discovery. Everything after was simply miracles for the sake of the miraculous. The Temple arc is when we gave up on exploring any of the characters, as they were introduced and massacred at breakneck pace or their personalities were radically altered by unknown means; when we resigned ourselves to 20 minutes of irrelevant sideways flashes per episode; when we learned the writers would happily break their own universe's rules just to make the next plot turn happen ("dead is dead," ashes keep the smoke monster out).

If you want a single event that was a JTS moment, I can't think of one. I think the shark was traveling in the same direction as the jumper, and the jumper kind of hovered over it for a while.
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:29 PM   #9
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Re: So When Did Lost "Jump the Shark"?

If at any moment, I agree with the temple. It's like they were winning gold by getting the end date, but by then they were too hounded to continue so that they'd introduced way too many mysteries(and encouraged the viewers to speculate and be a part of it, making each individual expecting THEIR OWN outcome) to actually be answered within that period.

Granted, the answering stuff and tying-up-knots period in any epic is almost always disappointing. I dealt with it by loweing my expectations, admittedly, because I adored everything that Lost brought with it, and didn't want to spoil it with my usual caustic cynicism and bitterness. But I went into everything after the end date was set with that mentality.

I mainly think they underestimated the scope of solutions and answers.
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:47 PM   #10
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Re: So When Did Lost "Jump the Shark"?

I'm getting the impression that most of you don't understand what "jump the shark" means. When a show jumps the shark, it does something that is so outrageous, so distasteful, and/or so irredeemable that you say to yourself, "Wow, I hated that so much I don't believe the show will ever salvage its former glory." A show cannot jump the shark multiple times unless, of course, it manages to "jump back" in between.
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