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December 03 2005

Jim Emerson (editor of RogertEbert.com) on TV and great movies. An ongoing discussion on the film critic's blog regarding TV quality vs. movie quality prompts a Buffy fan to chime in and compare Buffy to Lost.

I've reworded your subject line and headline to make it a bit more straight forward.
Actually, the writer's not Roger Ebert, but Ebert's web site master, Jim Emerson.
Good point. Tis amended.
"and would not introduce an entire new slate of characters in the second, when they already had 44 good ones to deal with. "Lost" is certainly good, but is not as canny a program as "Buffy.""

Didn't Joss do this in every season of Buffy? Keeping the same group of characters for X amount of seasons makes a show static.
Who's Tis? A new moderator?


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I kill me! :P

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edit: eddy: Sure, cast members were added and.. removed (*cough*killed off*cough*) every season, but the scooby core remained throughout, and those four are the heart of the show.

[ edited by [wcip]Angel on 2005-12-03 01:46 ]
(Edited to add: Major spoilers for Lost season 2 in this post and a bunch of other posts after this.)







A lot of shows, like Lost, add and subtract characters just to make the show suspenseful, which I normally don't think is a good idea. When a show has such a great cast, there is no need to introduce new, pointless characters or kill off the old ones unless for a specific purpose. Joss usually gets this: He adds on characters to fill a void in the show (like Dawn, who became the sister that Buffy hadn't had in the previous seasons), and kills characters to make a better story (The deaths of Doyle, Joyce, Tara, Fred, etc). But I really saw no longterm point in Shannon's death on Lost; all it did was cause some tensions in the following episode.

[ edited by vampire dan on 2005-12-03 17:57 ]
But I really saw no longterm point in Shannon's death on Lost

Funny, I saw no longterm point in her life... :~P

I've heard it's heating up, but it really lost my vote when the second season started, so I switched to Veronica!
I am watching Lost this season, and I've been digging it. As for the comment that the end of the first season was hamfisted and the character switch-up, I disagree on both counts.

Considering the nature of the Hatch, ending the show with going down there would have been unsatisfying, and the final episode did a good job imo of wrapping up the characters with all the flashbacks of them before the plane ride. Plus the stolen Walt etc. was kind of powerful.



Also, I can't see the entirety of Buffy as one big tele-movie. To me, the show is really 7 long tele-movies, while character development proceeds through the volumes, each tells their own stories and are fairly neatly tied up at the end.

Added - I'm sorry about the spoilers in my post, although to be fair, the article in question was a comparison between Buffy and Lost that brought up these issues, the episodes had aired weeks ago at least here and the spoilers were already brought up in previous posts.

[ edited by rabid on 2005-12-03 18:56 ]
I really saw no longterm point in Shannon's death on Lost

Damn spoilers! OK I know the policy is, if it's aired in the States then it's fair game. But lemme tell ya...sometimes that kinda sux, especially if you like the show and instead of downloading, are actually waiting for it to air, and trying to actively avoid them!!
Best part?

"...the regular Fox network, which as I wrote has aired some of the best shows on TV -- "The Simpsons," "Arrested Development," "The Ben Stiller Show" -- and cancelled most of them."

I love critics who at least can see the big picture. Wow. No pun intended.
Rabid, that's pretty much how I see Buffy as well. And Veronica Mars seems to be following the same model, with a new major mystery each season, which I think is good, because with people like Joss Whedon and Rob Thomas in charge, the story-telling structure works brilliantly.
Damn spoilers! OK I know the policy is, if it's aired in the States then it's fair game. But lemme tell ya...sometimes that kinda sux, especially if you like the show and instead of downloading, are actually waiting for it to air, and trying to actively avoid them!!
Really sorry, nixygirl. I actually hesitated before posting the spoiler, but I just decided to post it hoping that it had aired in other countries by now (but I had no idea). It was a mistake. And if you haven't seen season 2 yet, don't read on in this post.



Funny, I saw no longterm point in her life... :~P
I actually really liked Shannon as a character. She began as a shallow, bitchy person, but after Boone's death she began to evolve, and she had a lot more room to evolve had she been given the chance.

I am watching Lost this season, and I've been digging it. As for the comment that the end of the first season was hamfisted and the character switch-up, I disagree on both counts.
I've also really been liking Lost and I think a lot of people have been too quick to criticize it this season. People are getting impatient waiting for the answers, even though we already got many answers about the hatch that we were waiting for in season 1. Even though I did complain about the cast additions, I'm actually not that upset- a show like Lost needs new characters to explore. A lot of people complain about Ana-Lucia, but I think she adds an interesting element to the show. And like a lot of people, I love Eko. Really my only major complaint is about Shannon's death- I wish she could have at least have had more backstory before she was killed off.
Argh, thanks for the Lost spoilers. I was waiting for the dvds.
Yeah...um...I've really been trying to avoid Lost spoilers. Now I'm kinda disappointed.
Damn spoilers!


Umm, I'm in the US, but I'm waiting for Lost s2 on DVD so I can watch it as a whole season.

"Aired in the States" is kind of short for a spoiler period. If there's any uncertainty about spoiling, just invisitext, please.
Arrggh Lost spoilers - I should have stopped at the first one but I scrolled down and read a second (uk Terrestrial pace).

Good job I don't love the show as much as any of the Whedon ones :(
If it's aired in the States, it's not a spoiler. But people should use discretion when it comes to discussing such events.
If it's aired in the States, it's not a spoiler.


If you haven't seen it, it's a spoiler.

Not everyone seeks out new episodes the minute they've aired. It would be nice if the spoiler policy took that into consideration.
MissKittysMom, while I understand the point you have made, setting the US air date as the spoilage expiry makes the most sense for being able to openly discuss episodes in a timely fashion. It really wouldn't be fair to keep spoiler tags because of a lesser number of people who are waiting for dvd sets or other reasons that don't affect the majority.
I edited my first post to add a warning for spoilers. Hope that helps people, sorry for those I already spoiled.
I suppose we're all cranky we got spoiled. It does make sense to not have to keep the spoiler tags, but also it's good to have the common posting courtesy of using invisi-text. Anyway, I'm not whinging anymore. Vampire Dan appologized, it's just an annoyance sometimes.

Now if it had been a Veronica Mars spoiler, oh man, there would have been a whole mess of cranky pants from me! Luckily I do keep up to date with that show.

p.s Hey Mort!
If a thread is clearly marked as "Lost season 2" or some such, I'd know enough to stay away with or without spoiler tags. But this was not a show-specific thread.

I do understand the desire to talk about shows after they've aired, but really, just how much do spoiler tags and invisitext inhibit that discussion? And how hard is it to add them? There does come a time when spoiler tags should no longer be necessary, but I'd vote for a month or two after R1 DVD availability as a better choice.

Vampire Dan, thanks for editing to add the spoiler warning. That's really all I'm asking for.
MissKittysMom, if you have policy issues email us.
"If you haven't seen it, it's a spoiler."

What if I live in Istanbul and won't see Buffy Season 3 until 2010? Should everyone have to shut up about Riley and Spuffy until I see it? Hell, the main banner to the site is spoilng me! Arrgh! Who the hell is that guy in the glasses? And what is that, a..uh, puppet? BOO!

[ edited by eddy on 2005-12-03 23:27 ]
eddy the spoiler matter is not open for comments and is considered dropped.
Hello, all. I am the person whose note to Jim Emerson started this all- and I am glad to see that it was picked up here. But hey, nearly all the posts here are talking about spoiler policy rather than Jim's article- which I think has some fertile ground to talk about. Maybe we could talk abut that? :-)

So, for me, Lost seems lost at times, without a clear narrative structure and way too many characters for me to get invested in. As for any change in characters for Lost, sometimes people want new careers and pull a David Caruso, you know? Which I say without spoiling! :-) With Buffy, while I was not always clear how th story would develop, I did get to see amazing character growth, and in Lost I do not always see that- the trope of using back story to give us information about the characters is getting old- witness Kate's backstory in the last ep. This is why I prefer Veronica Mars, where there is angst with reason and growth with travail. And Buffy has done this best of all.
That's interesting, Dana5140. I agree that Lost has problems, but I've never felt that they were structural. The size of the cast has never bothered me or been a barrier to emotional investment; indeed, Lost seems to be taking advantage of the TV format: it can tell many stories about a large cast rather than a few stories about a small one, which movies generally have to do. And the flashback sequences, when used properly, are incredibly helpful. This season, though, I felt they haven't really done much with them. However, I felt that that the most recent, Kate-centric ep was one of the best of the season and that the flashbacks were were very well-done. That ep showed what they could do with the flashbacks if they used them right.

My main issue with Lost is that the writing is so hit or miss. It's almost always either brilliant or boring, IMO. The show loses out to the Whedonverse and Veronica Mars on consistency in the quality of writing rather than any flaw inherent to its structure, as far as I'm concerned. But I'll keep tuning in, as long as the brilliant episodes outweigh the clunkers.
I think that there is an issue with the flashback structure this season, which is quite honestly there are very few important flashback stories left to tell. Most of the flashbacks (with the exception of Ana-Lucia's and Kate's in the last two episodes) have seemed more like a little bit of character sketching than a need to tell a good story. Almost a need to continue working in the same structure.

In contrast, the island stuff this year has been far more interesting, with more of a sense of cohesion episode to episode and more plot progression.

As for inconsistencies with the show, I haven't really found Lost boring. I think that it can be mediocre, but it tends to be good.

I don't really understand how to compare it to Buffy or Veronica MArs, they are entirely different kinds of shows.

[ edited by rabid on 2005-12-05 03:26 ]
I agree that some of the flashback stories have been less interesting this season, mainly because we learn fewer unexpected twists about these characters. I liked the flashback eps for Jack, Hurley, Ana-Lucia, and Kate; the eps for Locke, Jin/Sun, and Shannon were slightly less interesting. The only flashbacks that were completely pointless were the ones for Michael in episode 2- what did we learn about him that we didn't already know?

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