I watched The End last night. The end of Lost, that is, which was appropriately titled… ‘The End’. I tend to watch television either by streaming it (like I did Lost, like I do The Office), or by watching it when it comes out on DVD. I can’t commit to sitting in front of a television for any length of time, so that’s just how I do things.
I tell you that because searching the Internet for ABC’s site last night was how I ran across a review of the Lost series finale which prompted me to write this response.
As tempted as I am, I’m not gonna cite the web site which posted this review, because the critic there doesn’t deserve any attention via a link from me. Basically, his review sucked - in a highly ironic sort of way, as I’ll explain - and hopefully, if he doesn’t get attention, he’ll just dry up and go away. That level of uninspired hyperbolic rhetoric is exactly the sort of thing which gives writers on the Internet a bad rap - people see garbage like that and can then rightfully say that the web is full of basement-dwelling hacks. And it’s critics like this guy that make it difficult for people to sieve through all the nonsense and find the cream of what the Internet can offer.
Why was his review ironic? Because he claimed that the last episode of Lost was “lazy writing.”
Now, I’m not going to say that it was the most inspired final episode of a TV series ever - I’m gonna go with the majority of critics and say the last episode of Newhart holds that distinction (with St. Elsewhere pulling in a close second). And I’m not gonna say that it was the most heart-wrenching one either - that belongs to Six Feet Under and maybe M*A*S*H. But it was damned good, bringing together all sorts of disparate elements in a satisfying and (almost) complete way. It left me speculating about what each of the survivors (and yes, there were some - exactly 14 by my count) would do after he or she got back to civilization. Or didn’t, considering that Hurley, Ben, Bernard, Rose, and Vincent the dog probably stayed behind.
The irony here, of course, is that the review by the critic in question was indeed… lazy writing.
He kept telling us that the episode was “anticlimactic” and “bad storytelling” without tangibly demonstrating what he meant. He kept insisting that there were soooo many questions still unanswered - enough to fill pages, in fact. But he did not offer a single example. And he cited the demise of this season’s main antagonist (Locke/The Smoke Monster/The Man In Black) as being contrived - although if you were paying attention, you knew that when the “light” was out, the powers that kept Smokey and Jacob alive all those millenia were rendered inert. So not only is our reviewer’s writing “lazy”, he’s also quite possibly a lazy viewer. Since Lost was a show which demanded a lot from its viewership, it becomes apparent how this critic might still have questions.
Finally, a bit more irony to close out this post: I’m sitting here, a basement-dwelling hack (OK, I’m not in a basement; I’m in my office) criticizing a critic for something that I have been guilty of myself. That’s why right now I’m compelled to apologize to Chris Cornell, lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave.
In 1999, Cornell released a solo album called Euphoria Morning. About that time, I was writing for a little Atlanta rag called The Atlanta Press (formerly called Poets, Artists and Madmen), and I was asked to write a music review of Cornell’s solo effort. I blasted it.
Well, not quite. But you couldn’t say my review was glowing, and although I can’t say that my review is the reason the album had somewhat lackluster sales, I feel really bad because A) most critics really liked the album and B) the reason they liked it was because it’s fucking good. At the time, though, I wasn’t impressed, and I was lazy - I didn’t take the time to listen closely enough to it to notice the Jeff Buckley influences, or Cornell’s genuine efforts to separate his sound from Soundgarden’s.
In the ensuing years, I’ve given Euphoria Morning a few more spins - including one last Monday as I was driving my son to his grandparents’ - and I am increasingly impressed by the both the music and the lyrics Cornell penned. And so it is, I hang my heavy head in shame and I offer a sincere apology to him. Chris, I’m sorry. Your solo record is really quite excellent, and I was wrong to be so lukewarm to it 10 years ago.
Now, if only the Lost critic would follow my example.