Last night’s season premiere of Lost was typically mind-blowing. For weeks – actually, months (come to think of it, pretty much since the closing credits of the Season 5 finale last May were scrolling across the screen) – I have been eagerly awaiting the return of John, Jack and company. There has never been a show like Lost before – it is wildly inventive, original, creative, and completely unpredictable. How JJ Abrams ever pitched the idea to ABC, and sold them on it, is beyond me.
My excitement over the drama is sort of funny in a way, though. Because as much as I love it now and consider it the quintessential definition of Must-See TV, I can’t claim to have been a fan from the start. As a matter of fact, I didn’t catch my first episode until Season 3 was winding down. Positive word-of-mouth and a burning curiosity (not to mention a Netflix subscription) drove me to seek out what I’d missed during the summer doldrums of 2007, and by the time I’d gotten all caught up, I considered myself a hardcore fan.
I should have been into Lost from the start. I’m a sci-fi junkie with an interest in concepts like time travel, ghosts, alternate realities, and life after death. It’s almost like the show was written just for me. In my defense, I didn’t know it would contain all those plot elements when it first came out. Plane crashes on an island, there are survivors. Interesting, but hardly original. And where was Wilson, the volleyball? I’d already watched Tom Hanks lose a ton of weight and grow a long, scraggly beard. Wasn’t sure I wanted to watch a whole season’s worth of that (or many seasons, as it turned out). So sue me, I was wrong.
It’s not the first time I’ve become a huge fan of a show after it’s already achieved mainstream popularity, or at the least, a dedicated cult following. Take Dexter, for instance. I love it, and think it’s one of the best shows on TV, hands down. I subscribe to Showtime every year for three months just to catch it, and then promptly cancel my subscription after. I’ve even taken to dressing like Dexter at work, appropriating his casual attire and making it my “look.” Obsess much, Mark? It’s right up my alley – the concept of a sympathetic serial killer only offing the bad guys, and how human (or inhuman) he appears in his interactions with others. Love it to death (ha). The show is killer (okay, stretching for the laugh now). And yet, I didn’t discover it until the second season.
And then there’s my favorite sitcom, The Office. This one I did watch right from the start! But…only the first two episodes. And then I gave up on it (I’ve been asking myself why ever since), until the following season, when a coworker waxed enthusiastically over it every Friday. I picked it up again, and nowadays, would be lost without my weekly Michael Scott fix.
True Blood is my most recent example of showing up late to the party. The hype over season one intrigued me enough to catch up on Netflix. At least this time I was only twelve episodes behind. There are other shows, like Mad Men and 30 Rock, that I feel I should be watching, but honestly, I can’t afford another emotional television investment these days – my dance card is full enough already.
To be fair, once or twice I have actually been ahead of the game. I eagerly queued up for a brand new sitcom in the late 80s, a little show about nothing called Seinfeld, because I was a fan of Jerry-the-comedian and the premise looked intriguing. I am proud to say I walked around that entire first season, extolling its virtues to everybody within earshot, while the show languished and ratings were in the toilet. Eventually, of course, it caught on and became a pop-culture phenomenon. And I could proudly say that I was there right from the start.
That hasn’t happened since, and it may never occur again. But that’s neither here nor there.
It’s hard to predict what’s going to be big and what isn’t. I was on board with a drama called Journeyman right from the start. Loved it…but America didn’t. Cue the cancellation music. Same with Swingtown. And Pushing Daisies wasn’t initially on my radar, but there was lots of hype so I jumped on board that bandwagon a week after the premiere…only to see the show pushing up its own daisies soon after. Oh, well. I tried.
I think the real takeaway from all of this is…I watch too damn much television!