TV Reviews: Climb 'Mountain' or get 'Lost'
Sunday, September 19, 2004
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Get "Lost"? Go climb "The Mountain"? Viewers can do either or both Wednesday night when two new dramas with serial elements premiere.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday on ABC.
Starring: Matthew Fox.
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday on The WB.
Starring: Oliver Hudson.
Me? I'd rather get "Lost." "The Mountain" isn't much of a challenge to scale.
Very mild spoilers
Opening with a bang, "Lost" quickly ensures it will never be shown on any domestic airline, as the survivors of a horrific jet crash sift through the scattered wreckage of their flight. Beyond the casualties, there's also the little problem of where they are, and whether anyone can locate them.
As if that weren't bad enough, there's something lurking in the forest that's really, really big, causing trees to shudder like King Kong when it's in motion. Occasionally, this unseen creature becomes quite hungry -- so much so that if the program were to continue at the premiere's rate of attrition, the remaining passengers would be side dishes by Thanksgiving.
Heading the eclectic group of reluctant beach party guests is the well-traveled Matthew Fox as a doctor, which comes in handy; "The Lord of the Rings" alum Dominic Monaghan, as a druggie rock star; and Evangeline Lilly, who has her own shrouded past. Flashbacks of the crash provide sometimes surprising glimpses of who they were back in the real world, with a pair of vacant handcuffs and a dead marshal indicating there's also an escaped convict in their midst.
More than any of the current shows lensing in Hawaii, "Lost" makes sumptuous use of its tropical surroundings, even if the precise location isn't revealed within the show. Abrams (who co-wrote and directed the pilot) also does a nice job layering on the tension, from the strained relations that already occur involving an Iraqi passenger (Naveen Andrews) to the "Where are we?" question that hovers over the series.
Still, that latter point creates a confounding problem underscored by the pilot, which features an intrepid subset of the stranded attempting to contact the outside world. While enthusiasts of the genre might warm to the idea of an open-ended mystery, it's suspect how well the show will hold up without a more concrete sense as to what's really happening, barring Gilligan and the Skipper showing up to whisk them away.
VERY mild spoilers
ABC, channels 10, 25
Time slot: 8-9 p.m.
Premiere: Sept. 22
Rating: 4 stars
What’s up: An off-course airliner crashes on a desert island in the Pacific. Many of the survivors seem to be harboring secrets - was the plane transporting an arrested criminal? Was there a terrorist on board as well? - and they struggle to overcome sexual, racial and class differences. But even a mass multicultural epiphany isn't going to overcome the . . . thing . . . out there in the jungle. It's hungry.
Cast: Matthew Fox (Party of Five) as Jack; newcomer Evangeline Lilly as Kate; Ian Somerhalder (Young Americans) as Boone; Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings) as Charlie; Jorge Garcia (Becker) as Hurley.
The scoop: Agatha Christie, Robinson Crusoe, Hound of the Baskervilles and a sociology text all rolled up into one engrossing package, Lost is the most promising drama of the new season. The only question is whether the premise can be stretched out over an entire season.
Secret stuff: Except for the drooling jungle beast, Lost is extraordinarily similar to a short-lived 1969 ABC drama called The New People, in which a plane crashes on a Pacific island, then the college students who survive start building a world without adults. The odd thing about The New People is that it was 45 minutes long. As gimmicks go, give me the drooling jungle beast.
'Alias' creator adds another supernatural soap to the tube
MILD SPOILERS, but the best review
BY THELMA ADAMS New York Times
"Lost" debuts at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Channel 4.
When ABC executives approached J.J. Abrams about making a series centered on plane crash survivors marooned on a distant atoll, he knew the concept could work for a miniseries - but a whole season of episodes?
"When I first heard the idea, I wasn't interested at all," he confessed.
The experienced Abrams, however, creator and executive producer of "Alias" and co-creator and executive producer of "Felicity," rose to the challenge. He recruited Damon Lindelof, a supervising producer of "Crossing Jordan," and the result of their collaboration is "Lost," a high-tension supernatural soap that has its premiere Wednesday night at 8.
The series begins with a routine flight between Sydney and Los Angeles that goes down in uncharted waters stranding 48 passengers on a mysterious island. If lyrics like "the weather started getting rough/the tiny ship was tossed" float into memory, you're not alone.
"How can we make it not 'Gilligan's Island'?" asked Lindelof, co-creator and executive producer of the show. "What if you handled the premise of 50-odd people on an island . . . more seriously? What is the societal development if you played it in relative real time so that every week that the show is gone you're coming back a few hours later? At what point would a leader develop? When do they break into two separate camps? When do they start making shelters? And we started to realize that this was an engaging story."
The premise, especially the demographics of a typical flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, also gave the creative team an opportunity to cast an unusually diverse set of characters for network television.
"We needed a huge cast," Lindelof said. "It's like a petri dish. You need as many protozoa as you can to begin with. You just can't have people come in and out like 'Gilligan's Island.'"
First came Jack (Matthew Fox), the broad-shouldered doctor and putative hero. Fox, a "Party of Five" star who first auditioned for the part of Sawyer, a roughneck, cigarette-smoking Indiana Jones type, didn't want to play a superhuman hero. "Jack's a reluctant leader in the beginning," he said, "but over the series he'll learn how to lead, and how to lead well." After tending his fellow castaways in the opening minutes of the disaster drama, Jack enlists Kate (Evangeline Lilly) to stitch up his own gaping back wound with a hotel sewing kit.
Also stranded are a former member of the Iraqi Republican Guard (Naveen Andrews), an African-American father (Harold Perrineau), a non-English-speaking Korean couple (Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim) and a grizzled has-been rocker (the sweet-cheeked "Lord of the Rings" hobbit Dominic Monaghan playing against type).
Acknowledging the bizarre elements, Lindelof was quick to point out: "This show isn't 'The X-Files.' Everything that happens to these characters is grounded to reality as we know it. Time and space are not bent."
Creative concept pays off in ABC's 'Lost'
By Laura Urbani
FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, September 19, 2004
ABC's "Lost," one of the most original series on a major broadcast network, is a daring and intelligent drama worth watching.
Matthew Fox ("Party of Five") leads one of the largest casts on a TV show. He portrays Jack, a doctor who suddenly finds himself lying in the midst of tropical foliage. Jack, and 47 others, survives a plane crash on a remote Pacific island.
The group's plane lost radio communications and had turned around to try an emergency landing in Fiji. The flight was 1,000 miles off course when it hit turbulence so violent that the plane was knocked from the sky. Because the plane had switched course, rescuers do not know where to look for survivors.
The opening scene of Jack stumbling through a jungle, only to find chaos on a beautiful beach is stunning. In the midst of the island's beauty, people wander aimlessly as they try to piece together the tragic events that left them stranded.
Jack quickly asserts his leadership as he tends to the wounded. He also has his own wound to worry about, a long gash across his back. Kate (Evangeline Lilly) swallows whatever fear she is feeling and uses a common needle and thread to suture Jack's wound. This act quickly forms a bond between the two, who realize they need to trust someone.
The flight was filled with a diverse group. Charlie (Dominic Monaghan, "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy) is a rock star who desperately wants to be recognized as being famous. Hurley (Jorge Garcia) is a large man with a great sense of humor, who can't help but lose consciousness when he sees victims' grisly wounds. Sayid (Naveen Andrews, "The English Patient") is a veteran of the Gulf War. But he fought as a member of the Iraq's Republican Guard, a fact that immediately leads some passengers to suspect he is a terrorist.
Jin (Daniel Dae Kim, "Spider-Man 2") and Sun (Yunjin Kim) are a married Korean couple who do not speak English and prefer their privacy. Sawyer (Josh Holloway) is a loudmouth who doesn't trust anyone. Michael (Harold Perrineau, "Oz") has just obtained custody of his son, Walt (Malcolm David Kelley, "Antwone Fisher"), following the death of his ex-wife. Locke (Terry O'Quinn, "Alias") is a mysterious man who seems to have a spiritual connection to the island.
Shannon (Maggie Grace, "Oliver Beene") is a self-centered young woman who prefers sunbathing in bikinis and doing pedicures while others bury the dead victims. Boone (Ian Somerhalder, "Smallville") is Shannon's brother, a young man who likes to point out his sister's failings while he tries to save the world. Claire (Emilie de Ravin, "Roswell") is a young woman who is eight months pregnant. She is not ready to be a mother, especially on a deserted island.
This group of people must come together if they are to survive. Not only is help not on the way, but they discover they are not alone on the island. Strange creatures roam the jungle, demolishing everything in their paths.
"There is a certain gargantuan quality about this thing," says Charlie, after the unseen creature snatches a fellow survivor.
While the show begins with the aftermath of the crash, viewers are able to learn about the passengers and their last minutes on the plane through flashbacks. There are quite a few surprises to keep the story interesting. Several of the passengers have secrets, ranging from drug abuse to criminal pasts.
The survivors struggle to survive while they try to hide their secrets. The wreckage reveals a lot that people would like to hide, such as a gun, handcuffs and drugs.
"Lost" is created and produced by J.J. Abrams, who created "Alias," and Damon Lindelof, a supervising producer for "Crossing Jordan." With those men at the helm, "Lost" promises a savvy storyline with plenty of action and mystery.
Before the end of the first scene, viewers will be hooked. Although the action takes place on an island, "Lost" features enough characters and political conflicts to keep the show interesting.