Archive for May 14th, 2010

Getting Lost (Redux): Pilot

There’s no doubt that a large reason for Lost’s initial success was its impressive pilot. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the first episode of Lost has both the intense feel of an action movie, and the enticing suspense of the first chapter of a mystery novel.

So many images from the pilot are obviously memorable. The opening shot of Jack’s eye, the sight of a pregnant Claire on the beach, the scene in which Kate stitches up Jack’s wound, and so many others have become burnt into Lost lore. The episode is stunningly visual—the first line of dialogue (aside from screams and cries for help, of course) doesn’t come until almost five minutes in, when Jacks asks Claire how many months pregnant she is. This comes amidst the famous opening sequence of Jack pulling bodies from the wreckage.

What stands out about these opening scenes, looking back, is how the priority of characters has changed. We see a lot of Michael, Walt, Shannon, and Boone, but Sawyer and Locke don’t even speak in the first hour. Even Vincent the dog seems more important than they do.

This is not to say that the writers and producers didn’t know what they were doing—just that the story they were setting up was clearly very deep. In fact, Abrams’ direction is impressive in its ability to capture the core of characters in single shots. Whether it’s something easy and simple, like Shannon painting her toenails on the beach, something obviously important but cryptic, like Locke sitting on the beach as the rain begins to fall, or something subtly telling, like Sawyer’s silent self-loathing as he smokes a cigarette, it’s clear that there is a very defined view of all these characters.* Continue reading

Survivor Survival Guide: Loose Lips Sink Ships

“Are you with me or are you against me?”

“I’m against you, Russell.”

–Sandra

“Who invited Boston Rob to the party: Are you with me or are you against me?”

–Parvati

For the second time in this season of Survivor, we were coming off an explosive, landscape-shaking Tribal Council. Just as Russell’s earlier victory over Boston Rob, his decision to ax Danielle last week reshaped the final days of this season. And just like earlier, the episode after the big move couldn’t possibly live up to its predecessor.

Even with reduced expectations, “Loose Lips Sink Ships” was disappointing. You can even make a case it was the worst episode of the season; it was easily the least dramatic since at least the merger. It almost felt like an early-season episode. There was a long “Previously on Survivor” (if a justifiably long one; even I had forgotten there were two Tribals last week), they showed the entire theme song (you know it’s an action-packed episode when they skip the intro song), and they spent a lot of time on mundane camp stuff like treemail (I don’t know if you realized, but it was sponsored by Sprint) and Rupert’s inconsiderate late-night wood-chopping.

Continue reading