Imitating Lost

There is a pretty good article over at styleweek.com about the new shows that are inspired by Lost.

Since ABC would never let its critical and commercial darling air anywhere else, rival networks have tried to find their own “Lost” this fall, with mixed results. CBS’s “Jericho” has gone all-out to clone “Lost,” a little too transparently. The “Lost” island has been re-created in the titular town of Jericho, Kan., possibly the only place left in America after a nuclear attack. NBC’s “Heroes,” for its part, borrows the “Lost”-style large ensemble cast and ongoing mysteries, with several disparate characters developing superhuman powers and slowly discovering how they can save the world.

The big difference is that while “Heroes” has successfully re-conjured that “Lost” magic in an original way, the poorly thought-out imitation “Jericho” smells like desperation — like the unpopular girl at school who suddenly shows up one Monday morning (or in this case Wednesday evening) dressed exactly like the popular girl.

It’s fun that Lost is “the popular girl”, but what makes Lost stand out, is that it is the popular girl at the same time as it is the smartest person in school.

I watched the first few episodes of Jericho, but I quickly lost interest. Heroes on the other hand, is very entertaining and at the end of each episode I always want more, so I’ll keep watching.

While Heroes is great, Lost is still playing in its own league. The characters really feel like real persons with real problems and even though the island, the mysterious Others and the smoke monster are part of Lost, the show is very believable and truly feels like something that could be happening on the other side of the screen.

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19 Responses to Imitating Lost

  1. bigmouth says:

    I think Heroes has a lot more in common with Lost than Jericho. Aside from the focus on parental issues, I’m struck by the obvious similarities between Micah and Walt.

    A lot of folks say Heroes is superior because it’s nailing down the mythology right from the start — like a good comic book. I worry, however, that they’re giving away the farm too soon.

    Like you, Andreas, Lost is still the gold standard for me.

  2. Grace says:

    I TOTALLY DISAGREE with you.
    I think JERICHO is a GREAT show and NOT a copy of LOST.
    I watched LOST for a long time but not this season. TOO many questions and not enough answers. I AM OVER IT!
    Now if you’d like to say that HOUSE is an AMAZING show and that HUGH LAURIE ROCKS, I would agree with you! :)

  3. Hammer says:

    [quote comment=”16618″]I TOTALLY DISAGREE with you.
    I think JERICHO is a GREAT show and NOT a copy of LOST.
    I watched LOST for a long time but not this season. TOO many questions and not enough answers. I AM OVER IT!
    Now if you’d like to say that HOUSE is an AMAZING show and that HUGH LAURIE ROCKS, I would agree with you! :)[/quote]

    Just a question…if you are “over it”, why are reading a Lost blog?

    House is amazing. :)

  4. LostDamery says:

    I have been watching Heroes and Day break and I like the cliff hanger genre if that is indeed a genre. That is what the serial style should be…give a great show but always leave you like an addict wanting more…
    Heroes has hooked me with its characters some I really like and some I hate but always leaves me compelled to find out more of the mythology…
    Lost is Great and has brought the genre back, as has shows like 24 …and I hear Jericho is a vhs copy of…
    The problem with Lost is it is not answering the flood of questions and we the audience are getting stuffed and losing interest. They have a real chance to keep us locked in with a great Spring session…I hope they don’t blow it.
    Side Note: Heroes has too much graphic sex and violence and I see Lost beginning to tread that ground…a sure sign of weak direction. We understand death and sex ..we dont need to see it…in HD.

  5. FMGreenSteve says:

    Here is a blog entry I wrote about a month ago on this very subject. I’ll preface it by saying that since writing it, I too have become hooked on Heroes. It’s good enough to keep me coming back every Monday, but it suffers a great deal from unnecessarily graphic violence (I love blood and gore…just not so much in a series like this) as well as from a bit of over-predictability.

    —–
    “Nissan Versa. NISSAN VERSA!” : Heroes, LOST : Some morning thoughts :

    LOL. This Hiro guy is just hilarious! He gives the perfect amount of comic relief to Heroes while also providing what I believe is the most compelling storyline on the show. He also provided the audience with the definitive moment of the show when he flew forward in time to witness the nuclear destruction of NYC. The rest of the show has been just so-so for me thus far, but I’ll keep giving it chances.

    It bugs me that there are so many shows trying to copy the forumula of LOST (mysterious scenarios, large cast connected to each other through various unseen ways, giving your audience more questions than answers, etc…).
    LOST clearly has them all beat, and while it’s starting to become a crap shoot as to whether each new episode is going to hit it out of the park or strike out, the show still keeps its audience coming back for more because the acting is unmatched and the mystery is far more interesting than, say, a nuclear explosion in NYC.
    Sad to say, the nuclear detonation of NYC seems like an unfortunate possibility at some point in the future of the world. Heroes is written with a modern agenda and contemporary issues exist, almost as a focal point of the show. It bugs me and it keeps me “here,” in the present, in the now. It indirectly continues to feed the fear that a lot of Americans have for the future.

    But LOST, it’s NOT juxtaposed against the events of the world; it exists in its own world. The mystery is that much more gripping because the place we’re watching is just exactly that, mysterious. The audience cares about the characters based soley on the environment in which those characters exist, not based on factors that are external to the show (war, nuclear activity, poitical agendas).

    Jericho falls into the same category as Heroes, though CBS produced a dud of a script whereas NBC at least gives us some quality characters and a somewhat-interesting script. My point is that both of those two shows rely on nuclear destruction as the crux of their mystery. Nuclear destruction being a potential modern reality, pulled right from the headlines. The result is that watching these shows feels to me like I’m just watching the news. I don’t want to watch TV and be taken right back to my daily world, I want to be taken on a journey. Take me someplace new, someplace I’ll never get to go on my own. Obviously I only feel this way about these “mystery” dramas, comedies such as The Office and Scrubs can do whatever the heck they want, because they are trying to make me laugh, not trying to make me think (well, not TOO much).

    That’s all for now…
    —–

  6. Steven says:

    I loves LOST because of the rich characters in the show, and how it always brings more out of the character after I thought I knew everything of the character.

  7. Andreas says:

    Nice post there FMGreenSteve =)

    It’s interesting that you guys don’t like the “graphic sex and violence” in Heroes. I’m in no way a horror fan, but I was a bit impressed by the decision to actually show as much blood as they did when Sylar killed the cheerleader.

    I understand that some feel that it is a bit too much for mainstream television, but by showing her getting killed, the character of Sylar becomes even creepier and more evil in the eyes of the viewers.

    Regarding the whole “answering questions” debate, I agree that we could get a few more answers on Lost. Heroes is doing a great job answering and explaining things, but maybe they are explaining to much too fast.

  8. MasterPo says:

    I don’t know why everyone is suddenly surprised by the similar methodolgies being used in other shows. It’s not like Lost created the concept of deep characters, long running mysteries, cliff-hanger endings etc. That kind of formula did seem to fade out of popularity for a time which is perhaps why Lost has done so well (no other competition) and has shown other networks that the formula is still viable.

    I like Jericho a lot! I do think it’s very pie-in-the-sky as far as what people would do after a nuclear attack and apparent collapse of the government (maybe being in a small family-oriented town things would be different than in a major city). But I think the concept is good and VERY relevant to our times.

    Heros is also good though I don’t think it’s that easy to follow (kinda like a Tom Clancey novel that weaves many plots at first and brings them all together in the final chapters). It’s obviously very comic-book-ish (just look at the font style they use!), maybe more trying to play of X-Men than Lost. But you must admit “Save the cheerleader. Save the world!” is a great slogan! ;-)

    And remember: Immitation is the most sincere form of flattery. :-)

  9. Andreas says:

    [quote comment=”16662″]Heros is also good though I don’t think it’s that easy to follow (kinda like a Tom Clancey novel that weaves many plots at first and brings them all together in the final chapters). It’s obviously very comic-book-ish (just look at the font style they use!), maybe more trying to play of X-Men than Lost. But you must admit “Save the cheerleader. Save the world!” is a great slogan! ;-)

    And remember: Immitation is the most sincere form of flattery. :-)[/quote]

    For some reason I always keep forgetting what happened in the last episode of Heroes, so I agree that the show is a bit hard to follow.

    With Lost on the other hand, I never have much trouble remembering what happened in the last episode even if it was aired two weeks ago. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m running this website, I don’t know.

    Imitation truly is the most sincere form of flattery, and hey, if we’re getting more great shows I’m certainly not complaining!

  10. Lesley says:

    I love Heroes but Jericho does not do anything for me – I think it is the fear thing mentioned above. I also find that I can only invest in so many serial dramas at one time because I like to watch them more than once and also do a little research, then there are the blogs…… ahh, so little time. I am not really a big TV fan so it is nice that lately so much competition has given us more thoughtful programs to choose from. I must agree that LOST is the standard to which everyone else must aspire. FMGreenSteve, nice analysis! You are right that having the action take place outside of the current here and now makes a difference. I also don’t mind violence if properly placed. In Heroes, it speaks to how Sylar operates – creepy! (I am also a huge Steven King and graphic novel fan so that helps with the tolerance level.)Great topic Andreas!

  11. smacky says:

    If anything, I credit Lost with bringing a story with sci-fi elements to mainstream television (and with top 10 ratings, at that!).

    As far as Heroes being too graphic, the scene with the cheerleader waking up on the autopsy table was graphic, but Lost has been graphic at times too. How about the vision Boone had of Shannon torn to pieces by the island monster, and the episodes this season? Watching Sawyer brutally beaten repeatedly (almost every episode!) without explanation was both graphic and frustrating. How did it advance the plot? Ben keeps repeating “We’re the good guys,” but I guess Pickett didn’t get the memo about that. Heck, even Ben beat the crap out of Sawyer! Julliet zapped Sawyer with the tazer and was going to shot Kate. And Sawyer and Kate’s sex scene wasn’t exactly tame either. And the graphic medical scene of Jack cutting into Ben’s spine wasn’t for the timid either.

    I confess that I like the pace of Heroes. Waiting three seasons and having the same unanswered questions has been getting frustrating. There’s at least 100 unanswered questions (big and small) that Lost has yet to address. They just keep piling on more and more. Eventually they’ll run out of flashbacks and have to deal with the events of the island in a more timely manner. They’ve been there barely 3 months (if that!). When Locke chuckled at the image of the guy with the patch, I felt the same way: “Well, here’s something else strange we’ll get to eventually…”

    I still love Lost, but the first six episodes this season covered what, a week of time? If they aren’t careful, the writers will have the same problem with ALL the actors they had with Walt: Growing and changing too fast.

  12. theOtherdave says:

    I have to agree with some that Jericho had me at first then lost my attention going into the 3rd episode. For whatever reason I have imagined, being a person (in this case a character in Jericho) in a world that appears to have collapsed due to a nuclear attack, I personally could not have cared about ‘love affairs’ and the past. As a character, the question becomes “what do I do to protect myself and my FAMILY first, then I will do what I can to contribute to the rest of the town and the immediate social structure. It may be much too much to hope a TV show could be written to answer such sociological and psychological questions that scenario would produce.

    And some where along the way I think Jericho lost that focus and lost me as a viewer.

    Nah… I think my expectations were too high.

  13. theOtherdave says:

    Now HEROES…
    I watch this show religiously as if I were watching LOST. I really like it.
    I find myself each episode wondering where all the time went as the show reaches the end.
    In my book THAT is a characteristic of a good show.
    Funny, I’m not much into comic book characters or stories but Heroes has captured my imagination. And I think it may be the SciFi bend that I like.
    Yay HEROES!

  14. Andreas says:

    [quote comment=”16729″]
    I find myself each episode wondering where all the time went as the show reaches the end.
    In my book THAT is a characteristic of a good show.[/quote]

    Ah! Very good point. While watching some shows I tend to think “hope it ends soon, I want to do some other stuff”, but with both Lost and Heroes I feel like you – “is it ending already? I want more!” hehe.

  15. MasterPo says:

    Smacky – Shannon wasn’t “torn to pieces”. She was mauled, not riped apart. If she had been literally torn apart that would have been very graphic!

    But I agree the cheerleader on the autopsy table was a great shock scene, as it was meant to be.

    As for Jericho, I think when the world seems to be ending people naturally cling to some kind of normality rather than face the horrors of reality. As of last week they were 8 weeks (2 months) after the inital attack. All things considered I think the Mayor (now former mayor) and the rest have done a great job keeping the town together and in order. My point was that I just think in reality they’d have a lot more issues with things like shell-shocked survivors from cities coming into town, many more raiders than just Ravenwood and that girl’s father’s gang, much more a crisis with fuel and medicine, and many more problems with radiation contamination and radiation poisoning. But I don’t think they intended that show to be a serialized version of “The Day After” so I don’t hold it too much against them.

    To me Lost is very similar to the Babylon 5 series. The J. Michael Strazynski weaved a good thread of story plots and deep characters in that series, as is being done in Lost.

  16. bigmouth says:

    Am I the only one who really digs Jericho?

  17. KillerR says:

    Im starting to apprieciate the stories of Heros. i got to catch up on some episodes i missed when scifi ran the first 6 last week. i was impressed with the progression and the varied character flaws. its a fun show and i can’t wait for the new one tonight.

  18. Julie says:

    I have to voice my opinion here.
    As I write on here frequently, my boyfriend is not the avid lost fan that I am. He watches but not to the detail and degree that I do. This summer he tried to follow along with the lost exp but it just got to be to hard to follow for him. Tracking down messages on cars and such.
    However…. Heroes had gotten him. He is so addicted to it. I said to him about a month ago. How can you love this show so much but not be absolutely addicted to Lost? His answer: “Heroes tells me what I need to know.”
    I can understand where he’s coming from, but that’s why I love lost. It DOESN’T tell me what I need to know. It assumes that I’m either (a) smart enough to figure it out on my own, or (b) going to jump to my own conclusions that will satisfy my need to know until they reveal whats really going on and blow me out of the water.
    Dont get me wrong… I like Heroes. I watch it every week… but at the end… there’s a closure. Some people crave/need that closure. I, for one, love the fact that Lost DOESNT give me that. It keeps my mind reeling of possibilites.
    And just for a laugh I have to add in that while watching Heroes this week Rob looked at me and said something about Cerebrus being symbolic for the 3headed dog that guards the gates of hell. I was like “I dont think its symbolic, I just think that its a great name to give a security system.” He turns to me and says “yea.. well that not what all you ‘LOSTIES’ say on your blog. Heh heh. You should check out OUR blog!”
    It was hillarious. Like he had found his little place in the drama cum mythology based world.
    (also, that hes beed reading this blog trying to sound ‘lost smart’.)

  19. Andreas says:

    I think Lost is at a point where the viewer needs to have faith in that the answers will come and meanwhile enjoy the ride.

    A show like Lost or Heroes requires “suspension of disbelief” – the viewer has to accept what’s happening even though it would be fantastic or impossible in reality. To help the viewers accept this, things need to be explained and answered.

    With Lost, I feel that we have been given enough answers to believe the show and feel sympathy for the characters, and I don’t have a problem with waiting for answers, because the show still feels like a possible alternate reality to me. Others on the other hand may need more answers to feel comfortable in the fictive world.

    Tell your boyfriend to keep reading The Lost Blog and discussing the show with us, hopefully we will be able to convince him sooner or later! =)

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