Sunday, May 23, 2010

Last

The series finale of Lost will be broadcast tonight. I've been watching since the beginning and look forward to seeing how it all wraps up, but I won't pretend like I've been able to keep all the mythology straight in my head. I wasn't exactly sure who some of the people were in this season's premiere episode, for instance.

I've watched the show and read some of the voluminous coverage of it, but I'm by no means an obsessive viewer. It's one of my favorite shows on the air right now, but I'm not poring over episodes frame by frame for clues or scouring message boards for all of the fan theories. I'll leave the heavy lifting to others and simply enjoy the ride.

The end of Lost brings to mind the conclusion of other popular television programs. I remember watching the final episode of M*A*S*H, probably the standard bearer for event TV, although I don't recall much about it. I went to parties for the last episode of Cheers and Seinfeld. I traveled out of town with some friends to see the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation so that we could see it in a market showing it before Columbus. (The syndicated show didn't play the same day or time everywhere.)

TV is thought to be a solitary activity, yet the experiences of watching those shows coming to a close was anything but. One movie theater in town has been showing Lost episodes on the big screen all season and been doing phenomenally well with it. (I believe the same success is occurring with Glee.) I know of at least two places showing the finale and expecting full houses.

Although I'll be watching the last Lost alone and from the comfort of home, it's neat to know that in today's fractured media landscape, there are still a few things that can draw together millions at once. Whatever happens on the show tonight, it will be a shared national, if not worldwide, experience for those tuning in. Don't believe me? Just listen to the chitchat at work tomorrow and see how many fail whales emerge around 11:30 p.m. (I expect Lost's conclusion might melt Twitter.)

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