One hundred twenty-one and a half hours. That’s how long the entire six seasons of Lost span. Do you know how long that is? You could pop in the first disc of season one the second you got home to start Memorial Day weekend and you’d still have to take off the following Tuesday and Wednesday if you wanted to finish. And that would be watching nonstop for five entire days. The six seasons, bought separately, total 37 discs (season six hasn’t been released yet, but Amazon says it is six discs). If you opt for Lost: The Complete Collection, you’re looking at 38 and a running time of more than 5,000 minutes.
That is an immense amount of time to invest in anything. What are some things you could accomplish in that span? Drive across the country? Learn to swim? Become versed in a foreign language? Read the dictionary? Complete the 24,000-piece LIFE: The Great Challenge puzzle? I don’t know, I chose to watch Lost. (You could walk from one end of LI to the other, at a rate of 1 mph, and be done before someone who started the show when you left was even halfway through the series finale.)
People look at that and think a couple things: “Lost sucks.” “You need to get out more.” “The ending was so confusing!” “Don’t you have friends?” “They made it up as they went along.” “We haven’t seen you in days, are you alive? Love, Mom and Dad.” “How do you feel now that the show is over?” To which I respond: You suck; I know; I understood it; not really; that’s possible; yes but we’re out of microwave pizzas.
To answer the last question, I am sad the show is over. But while Lost is over, it’s not done. Between the fleshed-out and deep characters, dense mythology and still-confusing story line, just because there are no new episodes to air does not mean Lost is relegated to the past. If anything, the show’s end is the rest-stop between watching it and understanding it.
There are plenty of websites dedicated to this task. Some were started as the show revealed all its secrets and some were around from episode one. One of the best—Lostpedia—is a full-fledged Wikipedia-like site solely for Lost. Detailed character bios—not just of the recurring stars but virtually any character who appeared in any episode, timelines, episode-by-episode breakdowns, insanely detailed plot explanations—it’s arguably more precise than most history textbooks. All created, edited and maintained by the show’s fans.
The Internet’s love for Lost is without a doubt one of the reasons for its success. And at the same time, Lost adores the Internet. Each “off-season” was filled with a sort of alternate-reality game, with websites and videos, which in essence further flesh out the story and characters and giving the rabid online fan base even more to digest. It’s a match made in heaven. If you can imagine a computer and Jack Shepherd skipping through a meadow, holding hands…it’s something like that.
Can you imagine if Lost aired a decade ago? It would have been an awesome first season (my favorite and arguably the best) and then the show would have been canned. That’s because people are intrigued by things like an island with polar bears, forests with whispering voices and hidden rooms buried underground, but only to a point. Sooner or later, the ratio of questions to answers needs to shift in favor of the answers. Lost’s writers took five years to do that, but in the meantime, the Internet helped tie plenty of strings together. No, not everybody looked for Lost answers on the Internet, but not coincidentally, lots of viewers quit the show within the first few seasons. The endless resources for Lost knowledge provided by the World Wide Web made the show more intriguing, more enticing and ultimately, more enjoyable.
That Q:A ratio is still out of balance: The series finale didn’t answer all the questions presented over the course of the show. No surprise there, and really, I’m glad it didn’t. Reading Lostpedia while chowing down on eggs and toast in the morning is great, and by leaving large parts of the show open-ended, it only makes me want to read it more.
One hundred twenty-one and a half hours. That’s how long I spent in front of a TV watching Lost, and I’m more than ready to spend that long in front of a computer screen.
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Let me tell you, you did not want to be anywhere near www.twitter.com on Sunday. Not just when the Lost finale was airing: Parts of the ending leaked hours beforehand. And you thought waiting till everyone woke up on Christmas morning was tough…