When Lost first crashed its way onto Wednesday night TV, it felt a lot like Survivor -- but with a great script.
As Jack triaged his way through the chaos of the beach, he established himself as a leader. And the combination of the rest of the characters clicked right into place. Kate's strength, Sayid's technical skills, even Sawyer's smarmy survivalist charm. There was poor, strung-out Charlie. And craggy-faced John Locke, who got up from a wheelchair and turned into Wilderness-Knowledge-Man. Heck, there was even Claire, close-to-busting pregnant.
Flashbacks gave us back-stories, fleshing out the players, filling us in on who they'd been in their pre-island lives. These helped us understand what was going on. Helped us see why Michael and Walt were so strained with each other. Showed us who Jin-Soo had been. Explained things we needed to know. Even Hurley (as if he needed fleshing out) had his secrets.
Each week drew me in further. Radio distress calls, the out-of-place Ethan, a set of mysterious numbers, the French woman with her jungle hideout. More and more, the show was taking on elements of X-Files.
And every week, like some tropical buffet, the show set out more surprises. The one that caught me out most was Sun-Kwon's revelation. Still, the basic story seemed one of survival and hope for rescue, right down to building a raft.
So what's been its undoing? The underground chamber, though an element that's drastically altered the islanders' world, seems to have also been its Pandora's box.
Since its opening, things have been in decline -- and not just in the predicament of the characters.
This season has been a hodgepodge of repeats and reruns, frustrating for someone who's watched it from the start. I guess it's all part of network pandering to lure a new set of viewers. Just last month, instead of a new show, they played the 2-hour pilot. This trying to 'catch up' a new audience feels insulting to those of us who've been loyal.
Six Feet Under started out with a small but loyal following. But they didn't flip-flop back and forth, trying to please everybody. They called it Season One and then went on.
The only new show that's aired these last few weeks (and yes, I know, there was competition from that audience-grabber, the Olympics) was one that focused on Claire. And her flashbacks didn't even go back pre-island.
But that's no excuse for last night's show being yet another repeat. These days, there's even a comic strip that seems cheesed over Lost. Ever-nerdy Monty has been stumbling around on the island, and looking very lost.
It's time for the show to get back on track with some new episodes (there is one scheduled for next week, so fingers crossed). That, or bring in the rescue boats. Just please, do something soon.