Monday, 7 June 2010

Have you ever been Lost in American box set heaven?

This first appeared in the Bath Chronicle of May 27. It was after the final show of the cult TV programme Lost...
Where were you at around 5am on Monday?

The chances are the vast majority of you were happily in the land of nod, but for a significant minority of people, they were up, staring at a screen and taking part in a simultaneous televisual event with our American cousins.

The event in question was the finale of the much-hyped and frequently baffling American series Lost.

This began just a few years ago as an intriguing tale of a group of people whose plane crashed into an obscure island which appeared cut off from the rest of the world. As the viewer soon discovered, nothing was quite as it seemed and the title of the programme soon began to mirror many people's position in connection with the plot.

Despite that, the programme had a loyal following and after going in ever bizarre different directions it reached its grand finale,broadcast amid much pomp and circumstance, n Monday.
I won't give away the ending in case you haven't yet seen it but suffice to say, one person I heard said they wept at the beauty of it all while another of my friends, who had religiously watched every episode, was weeping tears of rage and threatened to jump on a plane, head for Hawaii and ask the writer for all those hours of his life back.

Personally I 'lost' Lost in the middle of the second series so I will be avoiding any tears but this is all a classic example to me of the modern-day phenomenon of epic, long- running modern TV dramas which really can take over your life.

I have been bitten a couple of times by this 'box set bug' where, even if you miss something on the TV when it first came out, you then buy it all again on DVD and watch it at your own pace.

One time was with the American political drama The West Wing, which I thought was an exceptional piece of work as it followed the life of an almost perfect American president and his entourage. And in a Bath Chronicle exclusive I can tell you that I saw early evidence that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats could be of the same mind because I recall having equally enthusiastic debates about this programme with our two local MPs Don Foster and Jacob Rees-Mogg who were both equally smitten with President Bartlett's battles in the White House.

Elsewhere, I know people with similar love affairs (complete with bulging box sets) with dramas such as 24, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, House et al.

One of the things that you can't help but notice, however, is that all of these mega dramas are American and I do wonder at what point the epic, intelligent TV show became the almost exclusive providence of our American friends. I am sure once we had a superiority about the quality of our TV?

Maybe I am wrong on this but, be honest, can you imagine many Americans getting up at 5am to watch the grand finale of Doc Marten or Heartbeat?

Nope, nor me.

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