Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Review: Lost 1.1: Pilot (Part One)

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Jack's eye opens as the first shot.
Lost - Season One, Episode One - Pilot (Part One)
Written 12/4/13
Warning - I've seen all of Lost, so I might sometimes accidentally make reference to massive spoilers from later series.

22nd September 2004, and Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 undergoes a mid-air breakup and crashes on an island believed to be somewhere in the South Pacific. There are 72 initial survivors, 48 of which are from the plane's mid-section. Those mid-section survivors, led by obsessive spinal surgeon Jack Shepherd, go on to be whittled down to a selection of very few, with dozens of kooky adventures along the way. This was the opening premise of Lost, a show that I reviewed the finale of a few weeks ago. and the opening Pilot is vastly different in almost every aspect of its production and scriptwriting.
     Initially inspired by one of my favourite films, Cast Away, the idea was pitched by Lloyd Braun and was laughed out of office. One of the most expensive pilots in TV history up to that point, the idea was picked up by J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelhof, both of whom are now known for their reboot of the Star Trek franchise. (Which I'm going to talk about later this year.) While most of the people involved in the production of the show's beginnings had very little to do with the rest of the show's progress, it was Abrams' backing that got Lindelhof onto the show and ensured its survival beyond Disney's lack of faith.
     The direction is much more cinematic than the show would later become, with Michael Giacchino's as-ever brilliant score rolling over montage scenes like this is the beginning of a blockbuster film rather than a TV show. I do think that I prefer this more out-there direction style - it gives a due sense of occasion to the crash and the events surrounding it. Our first flashback comes in a singular manner, allowing an introduction to the concept while also giving us time to sink into the present storyline. I think it's a slight sign of Lost's regression that in later series, the present began to feel like more a B-plot. Here it has pride of place. I suppose that feels weird for me.
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The Monster is first heard in the Jungle.
     The characterisations at this point haven't of course had the ability to go into the depths that centric episodes would later provide, but we get decent impressions of most of the cast just through their initial actions after the crash (even if we'd later discover that these aspects of their personalities were in reaction to the crash itself.) Of particular interest are Jack, Kate and Charlie, all of whom end up going on the series' first "mission" to find the cockpit and thus get the most discussion time - Jack is focussed and influential, Kate is caring and personable, and Charlie is the former rock star with a secret cocaine habit. Locke and a few other characters are seen, with an interesting amount of mystery being given to the former.
      The first half of the pilot is nothing short of a work of cinematic art. The direction presents the show's enigma in a way that manages to get a lot across without feeling baggy, both world and character building while still keeping a fast dramatic flow. The scene in the cockpit is one of my favourites, just for the way that it's constructed so precisely. The episode doesn't just stand well on its own, which is does brilliantly, but also manages to show the main themes of the series in a powerful and enduring way.

Thanks.

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