You all know the plot of 2004's TV phenomenon Lost by now: plane crash lands a group of flawed characters on a seemingly deserted island, weird things start happening, silly backstories aplenty, lots of talking, unlikely twists...
A J.J. Abrams co-creation and the producer's first hit show since Alias, Lost was a re-invention of the whole Robinson Crusoe, stranded-on-a-desert-island scenario into a Twilight Zone-esque mystery but with a large ensemble. People either loved it or hated it and, to this day, you'll still find uneven opinions in regards to it. This first season boasts a whopping 25 episodes which makes binge-watching a chore more than a treat but, by the time the fourth episode kicks in with its nifty twist, you should find yourself, at the very least intrigued by Lost. The main characters include Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox), the goody-two-shoes hero doctor, James "Sawyer" (Josh Holloway), the Southern con-man hunk, Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly), the mysterious fugitive and many others. Each episode follows the lives of everyone on the island post-plane crash but we also flash back to the characters' lives before, revealing something more about them every time.
There are pros and cons to this first season and I, for one, didn't get the fascination fans had with Lost back in the day. The characters were often hard to like or care about, the episodes were often underwhelming with not much other than character development going on and the writing was a bit too clichéd at times, the Kate/Jack/Sawyer love triangle being one of the show's deadliest plagues. During the first half of the season, you can clearly tell the show is still throwing things at you to see what sticks. Does little kid Walt have superpowers? It looks like that's the case early on but this is (wisely) quickly abandoned as an idea along with the whole polar bear enigma. Is there romance brewing between Sun (Yunjin Kim) and Michael (Harold Perrineau)? At first, yes, but that's also tossed aside soon enough. Really, the only things that happen and matter in this very long season, apart from some key character exposition, is the mention of "The Others", the building of a raft and the discovery of a hatch in the ground. One can't help but feel that much more could and should have been done in 25 episodes with this many central characters and this much potential.
Speaking of characters, there's a lot of dead weight in this first season: Shannon (Maggie Grace) and her brother Boone (Ian Somerhalder) are a pain, Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) and Hurley (Jorge Garcia) offer little besides often clunky comic-relief, Claire's (Emilie de Ravin) only character trait is that she's pregnant and Kate is thoroughly dislikable and is stuck with a criminally uninvolving love triangle. On the plus side, the likes of Sayid (Naveen Andrews), John Locke (Terry O'Quinn), Jack, Sun and Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) are a great bunch you definitely want to see more of and you do get the sense that the whole season is building up to a particularly exciting second. Upon re-watching these first episodes, I found them to be far more watchable than I remembered. The Sayid/Shannon romance is lame but it's mercifully never the focus, you can see cool stuff which will be explored later on being subtly introduced (the numbers, the black smoke) and the cheesier moments are easier to take when you know the darker tone that comes next in the series.
The first season of Lost has more of a focus on how its characters survive on the island and that is both good for character development but also bad for entertainment since that's exactly the least interesting thing about this premise and the island, especially when you realise that there are, indeed, others. Perhaps the lesser of all the seasons, it remains an essential watch (filler episodes aside) if you're looking to get into Lost and, as flawed as it is, parts of it are pretty good.
Uneven but refreshingly original.