Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Getting Lost

Warning: This is a long, wordy post about a mundane, unimportant topic in which I air my opinions simply for my own gratification. No one should feel obliged to actually read it.

I'm vaguely embarrassed about writing this.

After all, writing entire blog posts about television shows that everyone else finished with years ago hardly seems like a worthwhile use of my time. But, as I have a tendency to subscribe to the "Big Gulp" philosophy of entertainment, I've been a bit fixated lately. And I would like an outlet.

So here we are.

I've been watching Lost--you know, the television show? I didn't watch it when it was actually on, not even when my friends recommended it repeatedly.

I tried watching the first season on DVD while grading papers during my first year teaching, but that didn't work out very well. I was already seriously, seriously stressed out ALL the time... watching Lost to "relax" was a little less than relaxing.

But lately I've had some time on my hands, so I thought I'd give it a try.

My hat goes off to the writers. Very effective. I've cheered, cried, yelled profanities at the screen, and very nearly thrown the computer across the room. (I blame that last piece of near-violence on Ben. I hate him.) As I said, very effective.

But here's the rub... I'm starting to get scared that it's going to spiral out of control. The longer a television or book series goes on, the larger the plot becomes. The great writers still manage to hold on to all the pieces, and end up with a strong, credible ending. But sometimes, the writers lose control of their own beast. It gets too big. They start losing track of the details. They start leaving things out, making big leaps, having characters do things that are contrary to the development they've been given. And in doing these things, the writers accidentally "pop the bubble."

It was my high school drama teacher who explained about the bubble. Actors, writers, their job is to put you in a bubble where you get to spend a little time somewhere else. You're supposed to forget you're at the theater. On your couch. Wherever. You're supposed to be sucked in, so that at the end, when you do finally remember where you actually are, you feel like, "Whoa. That's right. I'm sitting on my couch. I am not in the middle of the jungle being chased by a polar bear."

That's good writing/acting.

So, when something goes wrong, when (for whatever reason) the bubble pops prematurely, the audience feels disappointed and distracted, and it takes time to get back into the story.

Oh sure, there are always those stray thoughts ('Where do they keep getting all of these tarps? I mean, seriously. Who even HAS tarps on an airplane?' or 'They've been there for three months... and Kate still doesn't need to pluck her eyebrows?') but those are easily ignored. It's when the story itself gets lost that your "bubble" takes the hit.

I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. It's those moments when you're going through a story and something happens that just feels wrong. I'm not talking about conflict, or surprises, or difficult emotions--we actually like those. I'm talking about when something occurs, and you stop, and your brain goes, "...what? That wouldn't happen." And POP! You are out of the bubble.

It's disappointing every time.

So far, Lost has hung in there! Bubble intact. The writers are great, the actors are very effective, and I've totally been sucked in. But I know where it's going next. Trippy time travel, alternate universe sort of stuff.

I'm crossing my fingers that the writers can keep it together. They already have SO MANY questions to answer, and I'm only halfway through. Three more seasons of this and the plot is going to be HUMONGOUS. Regardless, I'm REALLY hoping I get to stay in the bubble. Cuz so far, it's been quite the ride.

Don't tell me what happens, okay?

1 comment:

Katie said...

I think I need to watch Lost :)