So this is what not-writing-about-Lost-on-Chud feels like. It’s a little like the first day of school: I knew who I was before I went away, but now that I’m back from break I’ve got to start the process of self-definition all over again. I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends, and I’m a little worried that the cool kids are going to pants me and steal my book bag. I’m excited by the opportunity to discover new things and learn a bunch of stuff, but I’m also intimidated by my new, self-chosen curriculum.
…All I need is a Trapper Keeper and my analogy is complete. Anyone got one?
Deciding what to write about following my lengthy/obsessive Back to the Island columns (collect them all!) wasn’t particularly easy. After all, I’ve never written about any one piece of entertainment like I did Lost. I had no idea whether I could write similarly about other things or whether I’d even want to. But by turning ideas over in my mind for a new feature here, I got thinking about what interested me about writing on Lost to begin with, namely: to delve into side-topics that interest me, to talk about things I like and make small observations about themes and allusions and actors and production and whatnot, to ponder never-answered questions, to crack wise and to hear from you folks about theories and ideas and opinions…all of this stuff made writing about Lost a blast. But what was maybe most important as far as motivating me to write was the fact that the show itself switched things up enough so that churning out reams of verbiage about it never felt “samey,” never felt like a chore.
Lost jumped genres like an ADD-addled toddler, spinning a story that remained so fascinating to write about in large part because the story kept changing as it went. First it was Survivor on steroids, then it was also maybe Land of the Lost, and Lord of the Flies, and Alice in Wonderland and The Mysterious Island and The Prisoner and also, what the hey, a John LeCarre novel and a Philip K. Dick riff and on and on anon.
Much as I think it’d be interesting to pick a lauded, long-running show like Buffy or The Sopranos and rewatch it, giving it the treatment I gave to Lost, I’m not sure how satisfying that’d end up being for me as a writer – possessing as I do a similarly ADD-addled mind. I’m sure I’d find both shows fantastic, and great to watch, but I’m not sure I could come up with that many seasons worth of episode-by-episode columns for them, and I’m not sure in advance that I’d want to, y’know? Folks like Todd VanDerWerff do this kind of stuff for a living, and they’re very good at what they do. I’m an unpaid amateur getting his toes wet. At least for now, rather than throw myself into one show over seven seasons, I’d prefer to sample. Sorta. I’d also like to stray a bit further off the beaten path than, say, The Wire. There’s a lot of TV out there, and I’m of the mind that some of the lesser-covered/regarded stuff might be pretty darn good.
Which brings me to Lost & Found.
The television landscape is littered with the bodies of the shows that couldn’t, the shows that shouldn’t, the shows that time and humanity have forgotten or reviled or loved, perhaps too much, in numbers which the God of Nielsen hath declared Unworthy. In an earlier era, before the advent of DVD and international sales and multimedia platforming and internet chat rooms, a show like Lost might have easily gone the way of these televisual Castaways – suffering a quick death but enjoying a long afterlife in musty convention halls and on battered VHS tapes. After all, Lost’s knottily-convoluted plotting and inexplicable occurrences, its refusal to give up its secrets and nerdtastic devotion to intriguing background details all mark it firmly as a cult show, essentially. And as a general rule, cult shows get cancelled.
Here they get a second chance.
Lost & Found proposes to resurrect and revisit these cancelled shows – the cult and the uber-cult, the lame and the strong, the justly-interrupted and the unfairly-euthanized. Each week I’ll watch an episode of a show that you’ve chosen to start us off with and write it up. I’ll be watching just one episode a week and I won’t be skipping ahead as I watch. The experience (for me) will be similar to how I watched and commented on Lost this year. The shows listed below all have a shot at resurrection, and you’re going to tell me which one I’ll revive first.
But here’s the thing: Every two weeks you folks here will have the opportunity to cancel it all over again.
At the bottom of every other column there’ll be an opportunity for you to vote – do we keep going with the series we’re currently watching? Or do we switch it up and try something new? That choice is entirely in your hands, and I hope you’ll exercise it. If I’m hating a show you can keep me watching, either out of spite (please, no) or out of conviction that I’m not giving the program it’s due. Conversely, you can pull the plug on a show that I’m truly enjoying if you’ve found yourself unmoved en masse by what I have to say about it. You folks have the power here. If you’re a fan of the show in question, or are just enjoying what I do/don’t have to say about it, it’s in your best interests to vote for it. Once a show is voted down it’s gone for good, no matter where we are in its stunted run.
It’s my hope that this column might encourage some of you out there to write along with me as we watch this stuff together – that you might feel inspired to start your own columns and offer your own observations and theories and thoughts. I hope you will. I hope you’ll invite your friends to participate, to argue, to celebrate and to think. And I hope that you’ll choose to pop in here each week to find out what Crazy Old Man Morse has to say, and to actively participate in the direction of this column.
Choose two shows from the list below that you’d like me to tackle and email them to me in order of preference, or list them below in the comments section. The show that gets the most votes will be the first one I tackle. The runner-up will serve as your alternate choice when it comes time to decide: Renew or Cancel?
On Monday morning I’ll post the winning show on my itty-bitty website, Verbosity!, and right here at Chud.com. My write up of the first episode will pop up next Friday and, until you decide to cancel it/me, a new episode write-up will appear every Friday thereafter.
There are no limitations – not genre, and not age. I’m as open to a show from the 60’s as I am to a show from last year, so long as it was cancelled before concluding of its own volition. The list I’ve slapped together is a great start – there’s enough material there to generate a year’s worth of columns easily, even if you decide to cancel a show every other week – but I’d like your help in adding to the list, which is obviously incomplete. Do you have a “lost” show that you loved, or loathed, and would like to see covered here? If so, let me know!
Without further ado, here are some of the shows up for Renewal here on Lost & Found:
• American Gothic
• Dead Like Me
• Pushing Daisies
• Twin Peaks
• The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
• John from Cincinnati
• The Lost Room
• The Middleman
• Harsh Realm
• The Tick
• Keen Eddie
• Point Pleasant
• Nowhere Man
• Freaks and Geeks
• Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
• Greg the Bunny
• Earth 2
• Journeyman (not yet available on Netflix)
• Fantasy Island (unavailable on Netflix or to purchase)
• Dark Skies (unavailable on Netflix or to purchase)
You’ll notice that two of the shows on the list are unavailable. I don’t support piracy of material that’s available to buy, nor do I typically seek out bootlegged materials since I genuinely believe that I owe the creators of entertainment my money for said-entertainment. But, with that said, these are shows that I’d really like to include (Dark Skies, because I like American History, and Fantasy Island, because two of Lost’s former writers were involved with that show), and they aren’t available to me (or anyone else, as far as I’m aware) through normal channels of commerce. Given that, I’d like to propose the following compromise:
1. If you are personally able to supply me with the full run of either series, I will make a donation equal to the approximate value of the hypothetical DVD directly to Amnesty International, a worthy cause no matter your particular political beliefs. I will also return your copies to you free of charge once I’m done watching them.
2. If you are able to point me toward someone who is willing to sell the full run of either show to me I will STILL make that donation (albeit a lesser donation, since I’ll also be ponying up for the shows, and I ain’t made of money). If I can’t reward the creators, I can still make a contribution. If I’m going to do something “bad” I’d like to be doing something “good” at the same time, and thus bring balance to the Force or something like that.
Pick your top two and send them my way, or list them in the comments below in order of preference. Remember: If you choose a show that’s not available to rent on Netflix and unobtainable to buy anywhere in the world, please offer me a way of obtaining that show in your email. Otherwise, the vote will be discounted.
I have one request of you as we go: I (and many of you I assume) will be coming to most of these shows for the first time. I won’t know ahead of time what happens on, say, American Gothic, and I/we would appreciate it if you wouldn’t spoil it. If you want to talk spoilers for the show we’re watching you can set up a thread in the Television section of the Message Boards to do so. I invite you to go crazy there. But in the “official” thread for the column, and in the comments below, I’ll ask you to please refrain from posting spoilers. It would be greatly appreciated.
So, that’s that. Vote away. If I’m honest I have no idea how this is going to turn out – could be glorious, could be Icarus. But with your involvement and your always-interesting comments I suspect it’ll be the former. I can’t wait to begin, and I hope you’ll join me.