Friday, 23 July 2010

Of Lost Season 6

I've been sat on this post for months. I've gone through my head about how I'm going to put my feelings about Lost Season 6 down. Was it Lost's best season? No, that stands as either Season 1 or 4. Was it good? Of course, great even. I even stand by the finale as being on the best episodes the show has produced. Sure so many questions are left open but I found myself completely un-caring. The character and emotional story overrode all annoyance over the mystery. I still find myself not caring why Walt's powers were never explained. Why Libby was important and so many small inconsequential things. The End will make my favourite episodes of television this year, as may Ab Aeterno and a few others. But the reason why I can't put my thoughts down is because Lost is over. I've spent 5 years (not 6 due to differences in the UK and US) following and adoring the work of Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and now I don't know if I'm quite ready to let go.

Lost is probably the most important piece of fictional work that I'll ever experience. Before Lost I was a gamer but then Lost opened me to so much more. I'd have never gotten into movies, comic books, books, music and most important of all television had it not been for television show. I read Watchmen because of Lost. I read The Stand because of Lost. I listened to some of my favourite albums ever because of Lost. I watched Veronica Mars and the Wire because of Lost. Not all of the direct links but the world online which Lost opened me up to was so vast that I've coasted along watching and experiencing so much. Actors works, blogs critiquing Lost, music inspired by Lost. Lost was a gateway drug to what has become my entire life.

To me Lost is by far the most important piece of popular culture ever conceived. To me.

Lost isn't perfect. There are too many narrative dead ends (the Temple), characters been underused (Frank), characters having no reason for existence (Nikki and Paulo (no matter how good Expose was), Bai Ling) and ultimately the flash sideways universe probably not playing as well on second viewing (particularly those before Desmond makes his triumphant return). But that's ignoring what Lost did so well. So many perfectly crafted characters from Locke, Ben, Desmond, Richard, Daniel, Mr. Eko, Sawyer, Juliet, Hurley and Jack. It gave us 'Not Penny's Boat', Flashfowards, flashbacks, new otherton, Sayid being generally awesome, Sawyer's nicknames, the smokemonster, Jacob, hatches and buttons and mind blowing plot twists. Also it gave us The Constant. Never has there been a more perfectly crafted episode of television (apart from maybe Lost's very own Through The Looking Glass).

So far this hasn't been much about Lost season 6, but the show overall. I apologise but now it's over I can't talk about this single season on it's own. Lost is longform narrative pure and simple, each season benefits from the preceding season. Sadly the nature of television means that it's impossible for Lost to be perfect, actors aren't available, budget, strikes etc. But the achievement of Lost is that despite all of these problems it was still insanely watchable, addictive, well crafted, well written, well acted. Lost is an anomaly in television. It's success will never be repeated and what it did should never be tried again. It needs to stay as it is. Would I like if Lost could have been made exactly as Damon and Carlton had envisioned? No constraints? Of course, but sometimes it was the idiosyncratic that made Lost so enjoyable.

Lost has it's place in my heart as being the piece of work that has defined my teenage years. That's a place that can never be taken by anything. I can't wait for this final epilogue on the DVD. I can't wait to see what the actors go onto do. I especially can't wait to see what Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse do. I'll be following Jack Bender and Michael Giacchino. I cannot overstate how much I love and adore this show. Maybe I'm a fanboy but Lost in many ways was my first love. The emotions its made me feel. Pure joy, sadness, excitement, tension.

But Season 6 then? It isn't perfect. The flashsideways would have benefited from Desmond coming in earlier on, the temple whilst necessary due to fan anticipation amounted to little more than a detour, the lack of answers to some questions will of course be frustrating. And the flashsideways probably won't play out as well on second viewing. But who gives a fuck?

Season 6 was all about the memories. Getting all our favourites back (particularly the spectacular and heartbreaking finale), giving a satisfying conclusion to the island story. It was a season where Jack finally became the true hero (and to a lesser extent chose Kate). The smoke monster became a main character. We found out who Richard was. Claire and her squirrel baby. Lapidus and his shirt. The Black Rock blew up. Ben finally got his revenge of Charles Widmore. Sawyer mourned the death of his true love. Desmond actually got his happy ending. Hurley proved how irreplaceably awesome he was. Jin, Sun and Sayid died within 10 mintues of each other. And so much more.

Then there was the finale. That perfect finale Everyone came back (minus a few notables) and we got the heart felt goodbye. One of the series most important lines was subverted, changing from 'Live Toghether, Die Alone' to 'Live Together, Die Together'. The finale was an encompassing of everything that made the show great, the characters. Everyone got their moment to say goodbye, and I was reduced to tears multiple times (Claire giving birth, Sun/Jin realising, Sawyer and Juliet, Jack's death). Even the controversial ending was perfect in tone. Then there was the mirroring of the series first ever scene as Jack lay dying in the bamboo he woke up in six years ago. Those final seconds were a perfect farewell to the show I loved for my teen years. I don't think anything will top the feeling I had being sat in my living room at 8 in the morning watch Lost end in such a cathartic way.

Lost was an irreplaceable force in my life. Whilst Lost Season 6 'only' gets a 9/10 the show overall merits a complete 10/10 for sheer personal and emotional resonance. Nothing I view will hold me, engage me in the same way. But at least I was able to experience it as happening and I'm deeply jealous of those who will be embarking on the Lost journey in the future because they might experience one of the greatest achievements in entertainment history with fresh eyes.

'See you in another life Brother' - Desmond Hume

Of Breaking Bad Season 3

Last year I put Breaking Bad at number 2 in my best shows of the year. In some ways that may have been one place too low. This year, unless Mad Men has a breathtaking season (which to be honest is still highly likely) Breaking Bad is the best show I'm going to see all year. Season 3 may have been better than Season 2 in terms of just about everything. And since Breaking Bad Season 2 was no slouch that's saying something.

After the somewhat controversial end to Season 2, Breaking Bad came back with a string of slower more meditatively paced episodes to bring us back, Walt is still reeling from guilt and wanting to leave the drug business and Jesse still recovering from addiction and the death of Jane. Jesse decides that he is fundamentally evil and Walt wants to still believe he's a force for good. Whilst putting these two at loggerheads may not seem the best way, it lead to some incredible moments such as Walt's criticism of Jesse's cooking style and of course the scene in the 'Fly' where Walt almost admits to his role in Jane's death.

Of course I can wax lyrical about how fucking incredible both Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are on this show but if you don't know that these two can own any scene their in you clearly don't watch the show (in which case FUCKING GO!). But Season 3 gave us a lot more depth to the other characters. Hank got a showcase in the seasons early episodes leading to the sublime 'One Minute'. This episode is by far one of the greatest hours of television I've ever watched. Aaron Paul owns the shit out of every scene in the hospital all leading to the concluding scene in the parking lot with Hank. It is by far the tensest I've been watching anything since 'No Country for Old Men' in 2007. Even Skylar gets her own depth having to deal with divorcing Walt as well as slowly being pulled into the drug world. She shows herself to be just as cunning as Walt showing maybe that these two were meant for each other more than originally expected.

Of course, if you can't tell the meditative pace of the early episodes soon gets burned away and we go from one explosive moment to the next. Walt of course goes back to drugs (working now for Gus who is another character that chews the scenery) and shit goes down. Breaking Bad is a tower of cards on the constant verge of collapsing and Vince Giligan makes everything feel like it could explode at any second.

I'm trying to say so much about Breaking Bad without delving into too many specifics which I've already failed at). Just know Breaking Bad is television at it's best and needs to be viewed by as many people as possible. If you don't watch it you'll never see so many insane moments (including why I never want to get on the wrong side of Mike following the finale), monologues, amazing cinematography, great acting, writing and just about everything else.

Overall if you aren't watching Breaking Bad you owe it to yourself to do so. It's the best show currently airing. Quite often tense, very often hilarious, dramatic, heartbreaking. The hyperbole I could spout about this show is never ending. As good as you think you're favourite show is, Breaking Bad is better no question. After a spellbindingly good Season 2, Breaking Bad continued on an upward streak, making Season 3 one of the greatest seasons of television ever. Now I just need to sit and wait till fucking next July to find out what happens next to Walt and Jesse.


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Of July 2010

Well what do you know I'm late once again...

Apologies, pretty much all my past week has been spent celebrating the fact that I've broken up and finished with all my friends at various gatherings. Now I'm into the idea that I'm going away this Sunday for 10 days, should still have access to the internet.

I'll be starting drafts of my blog posts today and will then set them up to maybe post whilst I'm away. We'll see how that goes anyways.

This month has a ton of awesome films coming out, mostly in the form of Toy Story 3 and Inception. Also planned is a drunken trip to see Eclipse, should be interesting (I might even be able to live tweet if my iPhone arrives...)

Currently Listening to: Sleigh Bells - Treats, Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
Currently Watching (TV): Justified Season 1