“Lost” that popular american TV series that should be at season 2 over there, arrived yesterday in Italy for the first time and I was anticipating it since I usually like the hyped series coming from the USA. They are usually damn fine products, like “Desperate Housewives” that arrived also early this year and that I loved.
Instead this one was a delusion (at least the “pilot” episode). There’s an excess of stereotypes and I was able to anticipate nearly all the scenes just before they were going to happen. So predictable. At every scene I reacted more with “eye-rolling” than the intended “ohh, surprise”.
It is a shameless rip off of the japanese “Battle Royale”. It has the exact same scheme and feel, the exact same use of narrative structure and expedients, like the mix of different characters that don’t know each other and then the use of nifty placed flashback to reveal part of their stories just before the character is involved into something in the main plot. Making the audience connect & sympathize a moment before something horrendous and life-threatening happens to them.
It’s still a big and bloated “survival game”, the parody of the modern “reality shows” used as experiments to study the human beings and use them directly, reveal them with the purpose of the show and entertainment. The “spectacularisation”. “American Gladiators” or “The Running Man”. It just replaces “Battle Royale” expedient of “have to kill each other to survive” with the stereotype of predestined people on a airplane. “Lord of the Flies”.
Basically there’s nothing original if not a nearly infinite list of stereotypes and references. Borrowing hands down from sci-fi and horror expedients to “conceal” and keep up the tension. Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” is another one, the expedient to never let you “see completely” to build up the tension (also “Alien”) and the shaky camera + “close up” of a terrified face taken right from “Blair Witch Project” (the trick of not-showing, or seeing an horrified face but not seeing the object of horror).
A big, huge, bloated stereotype. With the people on the airplane that have to go through a series of “tests” to demonstrate who they truly are. I believe you have a long series of bestsellers with a religious theme over there where the book begins exactly with some people disappearing on a airplane. Basically it’s just “Battle Royale” adapted to the style and the american public. Made more mainstream and accessible.
What does all this demonstrate? How predictable we are and what the public loves. The series seems to have a big production with a very, very good screenplay. Thick plot based on nothing but the impression there’s a lot going on (I wonder what happens when the mysteries start to get revealed and the public deluded). Money + good technique + stereotypized plot based on the characters and their different personalities.
It just works if you stay at the game and don’t really try to think at how predictable it is.