Sunday, May 23, 2010

This is the end

Tonight is the finale of Lost, and far be it from me to chart a course different from the Internet at large by writing about anything else.

While I've followed the show with interest and often passion over the years, it's had the most impact on our family because Noel has been writing about it since Season 4. His Lost blog on the A.V. Club's TV Club site has gathered a large and passionate community; every post generates hundreds of comments within an hour of being posted. Having such a devoted and opinionated audience takes its toll on him. He labors for hours -- sometimes days -- on each post, prewriting with non-episode-specific points he wants to make, taking notes during the show, then staying up until the wee hours to finish essays that can sometimes run to thousands of words.

Writing about the show has given Noel lots of opportunities, too; he's been on podcasts and gotten invitations to speak, especially as the series draws to a close. I'm in awe of what he's managed to do, keeping several years' worth of mythology in his head and making minute connections in the ever-more-complex story and structure of the show. I don't watch television that way; my readers on the How I Met Your Mother blog are often annoyed with me for not picking up on the relatively miniscule cast of recurring characters and jokes for that show. I could never do what Noel does, especially with such grace and insight.

Although there will be a hole in our lives when Lost ends after tonight, we'll be glad, too. There's a lot of pressure on Noel because of the prominence of this blog, and he certainly spends time and effort that's disproportionate to his compensation on this one task, maintaining quality and nurturing the community of his readers. What will take its place? Fringe has some of that potential, but it's not nearly the phenomenon that Lost has been. Few of us TV writers have had the dubious blessing of writing about an instant cult favorite, with all the scrutiny and responsibility that entails. And none of us knows where the finger of fate will point next.

At this point, we're determined to see the show through and evaluate its overall impact not based on moment-by-moment reactions, but on what it might mean as a long-form serialized drama, one of the most successful of its kind both critically and commercially. History will be the ultimate judge, but our goal as TV writers is to create a space where reflection can happen in the ephemeral timeframe of the broadcast schedule. Read Noel's years of coverage, and I think you'll see some of the best of that kind of writing anywhere.

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