Lost finale – and how modern tech allows the show to be so damn complicated

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The frenzy around the Lost finale (OMG ZOMG) just reminds me of some wise words from one of the internet’s all time wisemen: Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.

He wasn’t predicting the final plot twist, but he did have some interesting points to make about how and why the show was so bloody complicated.

Wales was talking at a conference in London a few months ago and his speech explained a theory of his about how new technology allowed us to process stuff more complex than anything that has gone before.

The internet has changed culture by making it more complicated.

Taking TV shows as examples, he compared Happy Days from the 50s with TV shows from today – focussing in on the mind-bogglingly complicated Lost.

Lost is only possible he said because of the tech we have these days. It’s partly the hardware: now we’ve got DVD recorders, pause buttons, and can re-watch and slow down the tricky bits.

It’s also partly because the power of the internet: he mentioned Lostipedia – a place where plot-lines can be discussed, moments can be picked out and characters and twists can be analysed. It’s a giant fund of information and community interaction where people can make sense of the vast sprawling universe of the show.

His point wasn’t just that dvd recorders and internet wikis enhanced complex shows, Wales said they allowed them to be made.

Interesting. Any thoughts?

Anna Leach


  • I wouldn’t agree at all, the prisoner was made in 1967.

    Using happy days as an example to show how tv has “changed” is ridiculous. I could easily turn it around the other way and compare the prisoner to friends or scrubs!

  • Sorry, but these are not spoilers, hw. Both of these shows aired at least 24 hours prior; on-line viewing, reviews and opinions widely available. It’s water cooler time.

  • I think he’s got a point. The shows I used to watch ten or fifteen years ago got away with reusing the same basic plotlines and jokes over and over again without any twists while today it seems a show is considered boring if it isn’t hellishly complicated, has a cast of 50 recurring characters and has to reinvent itself every season to be considered any good.

  • Yeah, it was totally lame. I am so mad I lost 2 hours of my life watching that drivel.

    Compare it to Ashes to Ashes. They both ended with ‘Hey, you’re dead.’ For 3 seasons, we knew Alex was fighting for her life. She was shot in the head at close range. Uh, death was a real possibility here, people. So, she died, that stinks, poor Molly, but Alex’s journey let her come to terms with it.

    For Lost’s 6 excruciatingly and unnecessarily complicated seasons, we had no reason to believe anything except they had survived. These people were fiercely alive. Against ridiculous odds, terrifying foes and unbelievable challenges, they were alive.

    Oh no, whoops, they’re really dead. It was just Jack’s brain having a last hurrah. ‘Cause we made it too convoluted to fix, so let’s just sweep it under the rug. Ex deus machina.


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