Finding their way after Lost

Not leaving, no. Moving on.

Where are we going?

Let’s go find out.

It’s been three years since Lost went off the air. It came along at the same time social media gave us a way to interact across the globe in real time and gave rise to what we now call second screening. The show’s sprawling mysteries and rich character development fed perfectly into these new platforms. Fans took online communities to more engaged levels than any show previously, debating theories and sharing background information on things mentioned in the latest episodes. In that way Lost was probably the first truly social television show. Its serendipitous timing helped it create some amazing bonds with its viewers.

That worked out marvelously for ABC and the show itself while it was on the air. How has it worked out for the show’s stars since May 23, 2010? Have their careers continued to grow or have they sunk like poor Michael’s raft? The answer is mixed.

Some found new lives with new characters. Michael Emerson is killing it as secretive computer genius Harold Finch on Person of Interest; Daniel Dae Kim is doing just fine on CBS’s remake of Hawaii Five-0. Emilie de Ravin floated for a while before landing on Once Upon a Time, which is led by former Lost writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. Everyone’s favorite Scot, Henry Ian Cusick, found parts on Scandal, Fringe, The Mentalist and ABC’s recently canceled Body of Proof. Ian Somerhalder didn’t even make it to Exodus but will always be Boone, even though his star has risen on The Vampire Diaries.

Others (no pun intended) have roles in the works that could put them back on TV’s map. Naveen Andrews and Josh Holloway will be on CBS this fall. Holloway sans locks (again, no pun intended) as some kind of cyber cop in Intelligence, and Andrews opposite Stephen Lang in Reckless. Holloway improved as much as any of the actors who stayed with the show from start to finish so hopefully CBS is giving him something to work with. Andrews also has a huge role opposite Naomi Watts as Princess Diana’s lover, Dr. Hasnat Khan, in Diana, which will be released later this year.

Yunjin Kim, who doesn’t do much American work, co-stars with Alyssa Milano in ABC’s upcoming summer drama Mistresses. It’s hard to come to any conclusions about her post-Lost career because I simply don’t pay much attention to Korean entertainment.

A couple fan favorites landed roles on new shows that never made it beyond infancy. Jorge Garcia had a role in FOX’s Alcatraz in addition to three appearances on a Matthew Perry show you’ve never heard of. Terry O’Quinn starred in the short-lived 666 Park Avenue after appearing in 11 episodes of Hawaii Five-0 with Daniel Dae Kim. Elizabeth Mitchell did V and now co-stars in Revolution. Dominic Monaghan’s post-Lost career still hasn’t taken off after Flash Forward was unfairly canceled.

Matthew Fox tried his hand at a movie before Lost was even over. Since The End his most notable work has been the freakish way he transformed his body for the Alex Cross movie, not his role opposite Tommy Lee Jones in some World War II movie. He’s also in World War Z, a zombie movie. Yikes.

Evangeline Lilly is a face for L’Oreal Paris but her only acting work has been in The Hobbit, which she began just three months after giving birth.

This is surprising and probably disappointing to a lot of us who still want to see our favorite stars every week. I think the way we expect actors to move from one successful show right into another ignores how difficult it is to find success in Hollywood. Networks just finished announcing their fall lineups full of new shows that will most likely fail or sputter for a season or two before being put to sleep. Few will make it beyond that and fewer still will become legitimate hits. To expect this handful of actors to be in those few shows is asking lightning to strike twice.

I also have to wonder how much their strong identification with one character might hurt them. O’Quinn did well on 666 Park but will we ever see him as anyone other than John Locke? To his credit, Michael Emerson plays his character so well on Person of Interest that I rarely think of Ben Linus. (Much of that is probably due to his character’s limp.) It’s a sort of catastrophic success unique to Hollywood: Being so good at your job that no one can forget it. Time will tell if Josh Holloway can make us forget Sawyer or if Evangeline Lilly’s freckles will always make us think of Kate.

As Lost’s stars find new roles, on television or the big screen, they will find a dedicated portion of their new viewers who look quite familiar, thinking back and smiling at the show they shared together, with a simple message:

We’ve been waiting for you.

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Revolution? Meh.

As I watched the fall season of NBC’s boldly hyped new drama “Revolution” I kept thinking that this isn’t really a show about how the world lost electricity.  What is it then?

Is it a show about life without electricity? Not really. The story takes place 15 years after the power went off, so everyone is beyond learning how to live in a post-electric world. We aren’t seeing them struggle with the give and take between the modern lifestyle they were used to and the pre-industrial world they were forced to live in.

Is it a show about reuniting family? Maybe. In order to get the power back on (in a way that prolongs his power), militia leader Sebastian Monroe kidnaps the son of a prisoner whom he suspects knows why it went off in the first place, hoping the threat to his safety will force her tell him how to turn it back on. This prompts the boy’s teenage sister, Charlie, to chase after him with her step mom and a friend from their cul-de-sac village. She reunites with mysterious Uncle Miles in Chicago and they trek east to the heart of Monroe territory on what seems like a suicide mission. So it’s sort of a show about reuniting family.

But that would only work if I actually cared about them reuniting, which I do not.

As Lost showed us so well, stress reveals characters. It can also change them. We don’t know how the blackout changed these characters because we only met them after it did. By starting the show 15 years later, the writers forced themselves to put that journey on the back burner. The show suffers because of it.

Except when it doesn’t. The only story with any emotional resonance during the fall season was the death of Maggie Foster, Charlie’s stepmom. Here the writers took the time to show us what she went thru after the blackout. Knowing what she lost, what she gained and what she had to give up on, bought her untimely death just as Lost bought Boone’s death in season one. A one-episode look at Aaron Pittman revealed that he is more than just a tech wizard wandering aimlessly in a no-tech world. Before we knew his story, he was the fat nerd with a beard. Now we feel sorry for him but also happy that he has found self-worth in this group.

The show doesn’t do as well with its main characters, and that’s where it really falls flat. The flashback stories that are supposed to draw us to them aren’t compelling. Charlie, for example, is driven to rescue her brother after her father dies. The writers then take us back to show her mom abandoning their family, creating a redundancy that fails to show us anything about Charlie we couldn’t have learned from the death of her father. They lost valuable story telling time showing it to us twice. Sloppy.

Swordsman extraordinaire Miles Matheson doesn’t deliver either. He is a whiny military burnout who constantly threatens to leave, and most of the time you find yourself wishing he would. His only purpose seems to be to kill bad guys when Charlie gets in trouble.

With its two main characters being so uninteresting, Revolution failed to get the payoff it was hoping for as the fall plot came to a head. Charlie’s reunion with the mother she thought was dead carried no emotional punch whatsoever. We only knew her father long enough to see him get killed; we’re supposed to feel something when she finds out one of her parents is still alive? After she spent the entirety of the season forgetting about that and chasing after her brother? Please. This would be akin to seeing Walt get taken from Michael without knowing what they each went thru before the crashed on the island. Makes Charlie’s reunion look pretty empty, doesn’t it?

Miles’ confrontation with Monroe had an exciting start, but it again fizzled because Miles just isn’t that likeable. The show missed an opportunity to bond you to his character when it revealed that the Monroe Militia logo contains to Ms to represent Miles and Monroe. Had the writers delved more into Miles than just showing him as a cranky former bad ass, that kind of revelation would matter. Instead, it is an afterthought.

I won’t be watching Revolution’s spring season. Considering that it features the unfathomably gorgeous Elizabeth Mitchell and guest spots from Mark Pellegrino, that should be an indication of how much I feel this show flopped. There are three timelines it can play with – pre-blackout, immediately post-blackout and the present day. All three can help it showcase its characters. If it sounds like the writers figured out how to do this, I might catch up with it. But I’m doubtful.