Saturday, September 24, 2005

Story Arcs 

The season premiere of Lost was something of a hoot; the mysterious metallic 'hatch' found last season in the middle of the island was revealed to lead to some sort of underground bunker, whose resident was seen waking from sleep, popping an LP of The Mamas & the Papas onto a turntable, and walking through a room furnished with tape drives and upright computer panels full of flashing lights straight off a 1960s set of Time Tunnel, or Lost in Space. Hmm.

The great danger of this series, given its popularity, is that the writers/producers will string out the suspense and the explanations past the point of plausibility and audience patience. As with Twin Peaks. As many columnists have noted. I'm sure ABC would like a 5-year hit. This first episode of the new season did seem a bit thin. The same motivation might explain why the first season went a remarkable 24 episodes, in these days when a typical cable TV season lasts only 12 or 15. My benefit of the doubt remains pacified, for now, enough to keep watching it. Still, I remain dubious enough about the SFnal content of the show to have declined the offer, by one of my reviewers, to review the first season DVD for Locus Online...

The final Myst game, Myst V [Wikipedia | official site], was released last week, and I spent the spare time of only three days playing it through -- the fastest I've ever played any game of the series. The puzzles were somewhat simpler than usual, and the game-play more expeditious (avoiding the time-consuming back-and-forthing implicit in some of the earlier installments); the graphics adequate; the other-worldly visions as great as ever. The overreaching story arc, concerning the Atrus family and his daughter's attempts to revive the D'ni culture with its technology of linking books, was brought to a rather arbitrary end, as if the creators simply wanted to be done with it and free to move on to something else; the fannish speculation and spin-off books have perhaps clotted the whole enterprise. Still, that was never the attraction; the immersion into unique worlds with schemes to be figured out, was, and each of the six Myst games (five numbered, plus Uru), provided anywhere from four to ten such independent worlds. Given the passionate fan-base for such games (small as it might be compared to that for the more popular first-person shooter games), it's hard to believe that some comparable series will not appear in the not so far future.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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