If you think about your favorite TV show, chances are its pilot sucked. I’d even wager that its first season paled in comparison to many of its latter. Seinfeld was famously almost canceled during its first season. The West Wing, winner of a bazillion awards, bumbled along throughout its rookie campaign. For every show you can think of that started out strong, I can name a dozen that fell flat on their face from Day 1.
When you think about it, it’s really not that hard to see why. There are so many parts in play, all of which are coming together for the first time, that the chance they fall in sync is nil at best. Show creators have to communicate the precise vision in their head (a surprisingly hard task). A group of random writers must flesh out not just characters, but at the minimum a seasonal story arc, all while finding the right tone and voice of the show. Actors struggle to get into the minds of their characters. Executives, always watching the bottom line, tinker and “suggest” plots and themes. All in all, it’s an effing mess.
Which is all the more reason why the first season of Lost is even better in retrospect. I watched the two hour premier last night and was blown away by not just how fast it jumps right into the mystery, but how quickly I began giving a shit about many of the characters. Why’s that old dude so creepy? What did the hot chick do to get arrested? And what the hell is up with that polar bear?
Sure, every season hasn’t been stellar. I remember throwing my hands up right around the time Jack was playing Peeping Tom on the security cameras and Eko was meeting the Smoke Monster. But for better or worse, they always managed to pull me back in. The one continuous trait that every season seemed to have was the amazing finales. What’s in the hatch? Will Desmond and Penny reunite? We have to go back!
When the writer’s strike happened a few years ago, a site called Why We Write cropped up where quasi-famous people published stories on what made them tick creatively. I wasn’t too impressed with most of the entries, but just as I was about to click elsewhere, I saw Damon Lindelof’s post. I’ve probably read it a million times since. For some reason, it finally struck home the notion that every book, every show, even every song I’ve ever loved were all created by some other person. The characters or plots or lyrics are theirs, not mine. If you truly respect their work, you’ll hand over your trust for a few hours, kick up your feet, and just go along for the ride.
I have no idea how the show will end tonight. I honestly don’t care. I like to think the old saying “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” applies to every aspect of my life and hot damn was this journey a hell of a ride. For that alone, I think Lindelof and Cuse have earned the right to end the show however they damn well please.
I guess that’s why I chose to write about a freaking TV show as my first post in over a year. While watching the pilot last night, I realized how similar it was to this site. I kind of know what I want it to be in my head, I’ve got to remember this isn’t an old character I played in the past, and there’s a hot chick in a bikini. No, wait, that’s part of another vision in my head.
I’m not going to hit a home run with every post. I’ll probably even piss you off from time to time. But I hope you stick with me and give me a chance to win you over, even if just for this first season. And if not, well, there’s always CSI Toledo. Or Dooce. I’ve kinda lost track of this metaphor.