Sayid, Hurley, Charlie, Walt, Sun, Desmond, Juliet, and the many, many other characters that appeared on the show became just as important as the leads and helped carry the series.
June 29, 2019
Classic Sci Fi TV: Our ongoing look back at many of the classics of science fiction and fantasy television.
What Is It? An airplane crashes on a deserted island and a group of survivors struggle against the dangers of this unknown land to stay alive. As they spend more time on the island, they discover that it has many mysteries and that they may have been brought here for a reason.
Aired: ABC, 2004-2010, 6 Seasons Totaling 121 Episodes
Created By: Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof
Starring: Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Terry O’Quinn, Michael Emerson, Elizabeth Mitchell, Naveen Andrews
Is It Must-Watch Sci Fi? Yes. This show ushered in a new wave of sci fi on television with its intertwined mysteries and myriad cast of characters, mixing genre elements with hard-hitting drama to deliver a truly first-rate series.
The Skinny: When Lost hit the airwaves in 2004, sci fi was pretty much anathema on the Big Four broadcast networks and the show really tried to hide its genre elements at first in order to fit in with the usual Prime Time fare. It offered a mystery that carried its story over multiple episodes and through the tales of a hefty cast of colorful characters while the producers claimed that there were scientific explanations for everything that was happening on the island (fans of the show quickly learned to disregard what the producers told them). Through the show’s first season, it really didn’t matter if it was sci fi or not, because the characters and their rich backstories are what carried it. These people had all been brought to the same place by some invisible hand, and we learned that they were seeking redemption (consciously or subconsciously) which the island may or may not offer. As the show progressed, its sci fi elements became more pronounced (some might say absurd at times), but throughout the series the show was always about the characters.
With a lesser cast, Lost may never have reached the same heights, but the actors were perfectly suited to their parts and demonstrated a palpable chemistry that raised this series to the next level. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Locke (and later Ben) may have been accepted as the lead characters, but the supporting cast and even the one-off parts stood out to make this a true ensemble drama. Sayid, Hurley, Charlie, Walt, Sun, Desmond, Juliet, and the many, many other characters that appeared on the show became just as important as the leads and helped carry the series. Despite its sci fi trappings, Lost was ultimately about the people and their search for redemption. Whether they ultimately achieved that depends on your opinion of the last season and the series finale (another controversial ending for a sci fi show), but even if you are not happy about how it wrapped up, the journey itself is worth the effort.
Lost revitalized sci fi on the broadcast networks and it did that because it delivered a powerful tale populated with well-developed characters that was unlike anything else on television at the time. The serialized drama (pioneered by Babylon 5 in the 90’s) has since become the expected format for a sci fi series on television, but it was uncommon at the time the show debuted. Sci fi and fantasy has also become more prevalent on the broadcast networks since Lost arrived (for good or for bad) as this show had a definite impact on the television landscape and has left a lasting legacy that must be acknowledged whether you were happy about the series finale or not.
Cancelled Too Soon? Quite the opposite. The show’s creative team originally wanted to wrap this one up after five seasons, but ABC preferred to milk it for every ratings point they could. The creators did get the network to agree to let the show end after its sixth season (Season 4 was cut short by the writer’s strike with Season 5 and 6 shorter by design), and some believe that the show felt padded out toward the end. But ultimately Lost was allowed to go out mostly on its own terms.
Should It Be Rebooted? No, no, no, no, and No! This show is a classic that does not need a reboot. Perhaps a mini-series or two that checks back in on what’s going on at the island, but absolutely nothing beyond that.
Interesting Facts: Michael Keaton was originally set as the actor to play Jack and the plan was to kill him off in the pilot to show that any character could die at any point. ABC wanted to keep the Jack character around, though, which resulted in Keaton backing out and Matthew Fox taking over the role. Micheal Emerson was originally scheduled to appear in only a few episodes, but his character worked out so well that he became a series regular.
Where Can You Watch It? The entire series is available on Blu-ray and DVD as well as VOD, and you can stream it on Hulu.