Ask Matt: Loving Lost
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Question: This isn't really a question, just a thank you. I've been a faithful reader for years now, and cannot tell you how grateful I am that you recommended the Lost pilot so fervently almost seven years ago now. Because I often like what you recommend, I persuaded my husband that the pilot was something we should try, and by the "Walkabout" episode where we learned Locke had been in a wheelchair, we were completely addicted.
I loved the finale, with its story of redemption, courage, sacrifice and community, that those who are the most important to us in our lives will be with us, and we will step together into whatever lies after "the end." That all the characters we've come to know and love atoned for their past sins and mistakes, and were happy, reunited with their "constants." No TV series has ever engaged me, challenged me, intrigued me or made me think as much as Lost has over the last six years (well, mostly...there were a couple of stinkers in the mix, too.). My husband, my friends and I are still talking about the finale. This wasn't just a story. Lost was an epic. Thank you SO much, Matt, for encouraging us to take this ride. It's been one for the ages. —Lisa
Matt Roush: A nice way, don't you think, to start the first "Ask Matt" column since being reunited with the tvguide.com website. Happy to say that once the shock waves from the finale subsided, this was the tone of most of the reaction in my mailbox. So many thoughtful responses from people who were deeply moved (as was I, especially once I re-watched the final scenes a few days later.) Some more excerpts follow:
From Mindy: "I was so worried going into the Lost finale that they wouldn't be able to explain that Sideways storyline without negating everything that happened over the six seasons. Wow, was I ever wrong. I am so glad I was wrong. I thought the Lost finale was amazing, emotionally powerful, thrilling and confusing, just the way I expect Lost to be. I used to be obsessive about all the Lost mysteries and wanting answers to everything. But somewhere along the way I stopped caring so much about that. Instead, I wanted the finale season to deliver satisfactory character resolutions. And it truly did. I am still pondering the last scene in the Sideways world. Still considering what it means to me. I love that it is messy. I love that there are still things to think about and talk about. I kind of love all the unanswered questions because they will give the fans something to talk about for years.
"I will truly miss this show. I think this is one of the greatest shows ever made. I loved its risk-taking, loved its complexity, loved its vast array of characters, loved its exploration of philosophy. I love that in the end the show turned out to be about redemption, faith, hope and the importance of a community of people. I can scarcely believe that this show aired on network TV. It has been an incredible experience to be a fan of this show, a show that encouraged the community aspect of its fan base. Wow, this truly may be the greatest experience I have ever had with a television show."
And this from Arma, who writes as an evangelical Christian, which as she notes has "the reputation of hating good TV :)":
"I loved it. The finale rocked. I don't know what faith Cuse and Lindelof have if any. But one of the most amazing things I got from the finale was how the ending spoke to me as both a fan AND a Christian. As a fan (sigh), those moments of realization killed me. As a Christian, the 'religious imagery' wasn't what did it for me. The QUALITY of their experiences was what touched me. Christians desire heaven, even though we don't have a good idea what it will be. I believe I will be worshipping God for eternity and that I will get great joy from that. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I often wonder: Will I still be 'me' when I get there? Will I remember my life? Will I love then the people I love now?
"The mechanisms/doctrines of Lost are completely different from my own faith, which is not an issue for me in watching the show. What I identified with was the moment of realization each character had: THAT'S what I desire from eternity/heaven. They each had such joy, all the baggage and hatred and hurts were gone. They embraced the ones they loved. The great desires of their hearts were fulfilled and they got to be, for eternity, the people they were when they were at their best. THEY WERE ABLE TO FORGIVE. That idea of heaven, where I find the great friendships and loves of my life, where I give and receive grace with ease and without reservation, is wonderful to the point that it makes my heart ache. I didn't expect it at all."
Matt here: OK, this got me choked up all over again. Seriously, folks, replay that final scene between Jack and Christian. It gets more moving every time.
There were more, including Carol thanking me for having written a positive review: "I have read so many negative and inflammatory comments today that I feel like part of the show was ruined for me." Which is a good excuse to add this cautionary note. Navigating the Web for online opinion can be fun and even illuminating—in other words, thanks for reading!—but don't let anyone, not even me, ruin the fun of having a genuine response to something as adventurous as the end of Lost. I'm willing to accept all opinions positive and negative as long as they accept the possibility that others may not agree. I'm even willing to believe some people actually enjoyed the entire final season of 24 and that there may be those who fail to see the humor in The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family. That's what keeps things interesting. But don't let the haters diminish your enjoyment of what you love.
Now on with the rest of the column.
Question: I'm sure you've gotten many comments on the Lost finale, so I will try to keep this short. First of all, I really did enjoy the finale. I thought the characters really took the forefront like they had in the early seasons, and the resolution to their arcs was touching. I even found the afterlife reveal at the end to be appropriate. However, as I look back on season 5 and this season's flash-sideways, I can't help but feel we were given plot devices that served as nothing more than red herrings to keep that final reveal a surprise. Lost has always gone out of its way to provide big mysteries and shocking twists, but in this case, the reveal negated a whole season of plot in which it was strongly implied something else was happening. The whole climax of season 5, the nuclear bomb, becomes meaningless once we learn it didn't cause the flash-sideways. Why show the island underwater at the start of season 6 if it is some sort of afterlife? Why have Daniel Faraday speaking to Desmond about how he thought he set off a bomb in the real world to cause this world? I'm okay with the fact that all the show's mysteries weren't revealed in the show, as I agree that characters come first; but in this case, I feel like the writers introduced things that had no relevance to anything just for the shock value at the end, and it kind of cheapens it for me a little bit. What are your thoughts? — Joe
Matt Roush: I didn't feel cheapened or tricked, any more than I ever have by this show's ability to change things up and keep us off balance and guessing. Was it misdirection? Sure. But the way I look at this sideways purgatory world is that it exists out of time and out of relation to anything happening back on the island, which might as well be underwater for all it matters to the people in the afterlife. And who knows that it won't be submerged someday? There is no now here in sideways-world. Plus, it was such an awesome image I'll forgive any lapses in logic. My in-house Lost expert questions your interpretation of the Daniel-Desmond conversation—not having devoted my life to the study of Lost, I'll pass—but the build-up to "the incident" wasn't really a waste, because it did bring all the characters on the island back into the present time and end all that time-tripping madness so the end game could be played out. It didn't reset the timeline so the plane never crashed. We just made that assumption. Which was part of the game of Lost. OK, now my head hurts.
Question: I know I'm probably in the minority here, but I was really annoyed when I read that Glee had been granted a third-season pickup when the first season hasn't even finished yet. In a sort of weird way, I kind of want to see the show go rapidly downhill next season and then laugh as Fox has to put up with it for another season. I'm not a completely terrible person, though. I do watch Glee every week, but I'm beyond annoyed at this point with Fox's over- advertising of it and overconfidence in it. I personally liked the first half of the season better, and am quite sick of Rachel and Jesse breaking up every other episode and Finn crying in a corner about it. The pregnancy drama was at least interesting! Calling it "the show that changed television" in the commercials for it is a bit much, yes? So what do you think about it already getting picked up for a third season? And although it might not crash and burn, do you think there's a possibility that it could go seriously downhill next season and lose all the momentum? — Alex
Matt Roush: With all due respect, given how difficult it is for anything to break through on network TV these days, especially something with this level of risk and originality, why in the world would you want to root against it? Hate the hype if you want, or even hate the show (which it doesn't sound like you do), but don't hate the show for its hype, and why turn against Fox for getting behind the show with a two-year renewal? It's hardly unusual for a network to lock in a signature series with a long-term contract. (On a larger scale, look at CBS with its deals for the Chuck Lorre comedies.)
But back to the quality question—and how's the weather out on that limb with giving props to that pregnancy storyline?—of course it's possible the show will fall apart. It's already crazily uneven from week to week or sometimes within a single episode. But that's the nature of this particular beast. Even when it doesn't work, it's exhilarating, and for powerfully personal scenes like last week's, when Kurt's dad tore into Finn for his "faggy" comments, I'll forgive it a lot. It's a high-school melodrama, and that can get tiresome and silly pretty quick. But it's going to take some doing to blunt the momentum of a pop-culture phenom like this. Is it a stretch to say Glee changed television? Maybe, but it did change the way some people are thinking about the possibilities of television, and that's a very good thing.
Question: Well, CBS finally went and canceled Cold Case. For the most part this was a very well done show that would take us back in time with great music, memories and interesting stories that would keep one guessing, on many occasions, up until the end. From what I read, the reason for the cancellation is due to the cost of the show. The ratings I hear weren't bad, but of course could have been MUCH better had the show been on at its scheduled time. But instead, week after week the show would begin so late due to various sports programs that people didn't bother watching. It looked like CBS was looking for any kind of excuse to cancel it. Does this mean that we can look forward to any show that costs a bit of money to be canceled in place of some cheapjack "reality" or "game-type" show? Can't wait.
I thought that CBS had some "class," but it looks like they might start following in the steps of NBC, which is a disaster of a network, with the exception of 30 Rock. I also see where Ghost Whisperer was canceled. OK, not the greatest show in the world, but interesting and easy enough to watch and enjoy each week. Guess that cost too much, too. Any thoughts? — Larry
Matt Roush: Money was a factor, as it is with any aging series (it also contributed to the eventual demise of Law & Order on NBC), which is why it's called show business. But in the bigger picture, CBS has to look to its competitive future, and staying complacent with the same shows year after year after isn't always in its best interest. CBS in particular knows that while its schedule is solid and stable, they need to refresh the lineup with new series from time to time. (Last year, Without a Trace and The Unit took the bullet.) Of course, it could backfire if the new shows aren't as popular and durable as the shows they're replacing. Where Cold Case is concerned, it had a very respectable run of seven seasons and did what was expected of it on Sundays for a long time—if memory serves, it never moved off the night—and CBS of all networks understands the challenges of the Sunday sports overruns. That was never a factor in the show's cancellation, and CBS wasn't trying to kill or punish the show. From the network's position, it was simply its time to go. Which understandably annoys the show's loyal fans, but it's not as if this was a big surprise. That said, it also seems obvious that CBS will be in a stronger position on Sundays with the new lineup of Undercover Boss (a bona fide reality hit) and CSI: Miami.
Question: Is Steve Guttenberg eligible for an Emmy for guest performance for the role of "himself" on Party Down? Either waym it was still the funniest episode yet. Too bad there won't be another a season. Your thoughts? — Richard
Matt Roush: I agree it was the funniest episode yet in a strong second season. And yes, it's a shame more people haven't discovered this show. (Though Starz gave it no help this year by pairing it with the unwatchable Gravity.) Can't say how likely it is that "the Gute" will make the cut in the guest-actor category, given how under the radar this show is, but he is eligible for sure. There's a precedent of actors being nominated for playing versions of themselves. Not just Larry David for Curb Your Enthusiasm, but (for another example) Ellen DeGeneres, David Duchovny, Mandy Patinkin, Rosie O'Donnell, Dana Carvey and Carol Burnett were all nominated for guest actor Emmys for spoofing themselves on the brilliant The Larry Sanders Show. Don't rule it out.
Question: I'm really looking forward to the reboot of Hawaii Five-0 this fall. From the preview clips, it looks like it's going to be a wild ride, but I'm wondering if that wild ride is going to get tamed a bit. I'm quite a fan of Taryn Manning who I believe was cast to play McGarrett's sister in the pilot. From what I read, she was supposed to bring some edginess to the show, which would have been right up her alley. Now I've started to hear rumors that her character has been completely cut out of the production. Any truth to that, and if so, do we know the reason? Thanks in advance for any H5-0 scoopage! — Rachel
Matt Roush: Haven't seen the pilot yet so can't say whether she made the final cut. But she isn't listed anywhere in CBS' initial announcement of the show in its fall-schedule release, so wouldn't be considered a series regular, and can't speak to her status as a recurring player either. From the clips shown at the network Upfront, it looks like the ensemble is already plenty full of hot bodies, and while McGarrett is the centerpiece and a family tragedy is what brings him to Oahu, I'd guess that the emphasis will be far less on his personal and family dealings once the show gets rolling and more on the ensemble and their action exploits. We should know more when the show is presented at TCA during the summer. For now, I consider this like all pilots to be a work in progress.
Question: Is there anything we can do to save Law & Order? Like some other people have said, I've been watching this wonderful show since day 1 and all the spin-offs. This is a great show and it needs to be saved. If not by NBC, then hopefully USA will pick it up. I will sorely miss this very entertaining show. P.S. I've written NBC but doubt it will do any good. — Lou
Matt Roush: At this point, I'm sorry to say it looks like we have to accept this latest evolution of the franchise with the same resignation we grew accustomed to whenever cast members would come and go through the revolving door. NBC has resolved to move on and replace the mothership with the Los Angeles spin-off, and TNT has announced it's not interested in reviving it. USA already picked up Criminal Intent when NBC cast it off, but I would be surprised if it happens again, since they're ultimately part of the same company as the network that will be trying to launch the spin-off in the fall. Plus, this would likely be a costlier pick-up than USA is known for doing. I don't see a scenario (outside of a TV-movie wrap-up) where the show continues at this point. I would be happy to be proved wrong.
Question: Do you know anything about the future of Damages? It's such a great show with so many twists and turns and I would hate to see it canceled. The finale of the third season seemed to be tying up loose ends, which scared me. Has Sony made a deal with DirecTV or is there anything the viewers could do to keep it on the air? — PBH
Matt Roush: As I write this, the answer is no. No new news beyond the initial report of Sony shopping the show around, including to DirecTV. The longer time passes, the less likely it is to be brought back, I'd think. I'm of the mindset that I'm satisfied with how the show ended, with a terrific third season making up for the flaws of the second. If we get a fourth year, I'll be happily surprised. But I'm not counting on it or holding my breath.
Question: I love your column and look forward to getting your opinions and insights each week. I'm hoping you can shed some light on what it's going to take for a network to pick up a Katee Sackhoff show. Her pilots weren't picked up the last two years, and I don't think I can take seeing her in another horribly written role like on 24. With such a fantastic cast (Nia Long, Treat Williams, Goran Visnjic), I'm confused as to why Boston's Finest wasn't picked up by ABC when a lot of their choices seem very underwhelming. I agree with Jimmy Kimmel that we definitely don't need a third Shonda Rhimes medical show. Did you see the pilot? What are your thoughts on why it wasn't picked up, and do you think we'll get to see Katee in a role that's worthy of her? I'm so glad that Nathan Fillion has found success (although I'm not crazy about Castle), now if only Katee and Jason Dohring could find great projects, I'd be so happy. Thanks again for your column and letting us fans rant at you :) — CJ
Matt Roush: Haven't seen it and probably won't. The days when the networks and studios widely disseminate (or even air) busted pilots has long passed, and while I'm sometimes curious, I barely have time to watch what I should be watching on air and can't spent too much time dwelling on the shows that didn't make it. ABC developed a number of crime shows for the fall, and made the judgment call that Detroit 1-8-7, Body of Proof and The Whole Truth were more to their liking or fit their commercial needs better. Can't say why, and we don't know for sure how much midseason replacement programming ABC will end up needing. But it's not like Katee Sackhoff is being singled out for rejection. Many actors go through pilot season year after year waiting for a show to get picked up. Let's hope when Katee (and Jason Dohring for that matter) lands the right show on the right network at the right time, it will be up to snuff.
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I'm away for the first week of June, but once I'm back, look for new columns and a new "Ask Matt" at tvguide.com/magazine.
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