I love "Lost." I love the elaborate mythology, the philosophy-nerd allusions and the season-to-season reinventions. I love Locke's bulbous bald dome and Claire's inconsistently manicured bangs. I loved it when ABC ran the season's 24 hours over the course of nine months and I loved it when ABC ran the season straight through. I am not objective when it comes to "Lost."
I fall short of fanboy status, though. I've kept my wildly speculative theories about the origin of the island to myself and deleted my "Lost" fan fiction before it saw the light of day. ("So then Kate and Sawyer pulled the conch shell away from Gollum and high-fived Aslan on their way off the Titanic. The End.") I don't check in on the rumor-monger websites or, really, do much beyond watch the show. It stands plenty tall on its own.
So I wasn't the first kid on the block to check out "Lost: Missing Pieces," viewable at ABC's "Lost" site and via Verizon Wireless' V Cast service. The mini-mini-mini episodes -- the longest one so far clocks in at just less than three and a half minutes -- revisit relationships and events from seasons past, sometimes serving up pertinent plot details and sometimes just a giggle.
In a wily move, ABC presents them without context, inviting viewers to place them within the "Lost" storyline wherever they please. Also, as the site takes pains to point out, the scenes are newly created for the web and mobile phones, as opposed to outtakes from seasons past. The episodes feature cast headliners and supporting players alike (Arzt!) and are written by Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and other regular scribes. This ain't no low-budget operation.
Before discussing whether they succeed creatively, I want to say this: What a great friggin' idea. Why haven't the obvious benefits of keeping hard-core fans engaged during the expanding lulls between seasons dawned on the producers of shows besides "Lost," "The Office" and "Battlestar Galactica"? I'm sure there are business-related reasons for this -- Hollywood types do, from what I understand, expect to be compensated for their additional toil -- but the amount of goodwill such bonus content generates has to be worth the price of admission. Tack on a corporate sponsor and voila: Mr. Producer and Mr. Network net a little cash, which they can funnel toward another talky workplace dramedy from that delightful Aaron Sorkin fellow.
Of the six "Missing Pieces" that had made their debuts on ABC.com as of Tuesday afternoon, only two offered "Lost"-y intrigue. "Room 23" and "The Deal" shed some light on why The Others decided to release spooky-dooky wonderboy Walt, one of the most compelling of the show's 3,749 unresolved plotlines. "The Watch" and "King of the Castle" showcase Matthew Fox's googly-eyed intensity, while "The Adventures of Hurley and Frogurt" captures a whimsical moment with everyone's favorite keg-bellied castaway. They're all entertaining and professionally rendered. 'Nuff said.
Kudos to Verizon Wireless for having the foresight to secure sole sponsorship of "Lost: Missing Pieces." On the site, the arrangement includes a 20-second ad before the first episode and another one every two episodes after that. Maybe the company oughta consider adding another few ads to its slate -- the hip-hop spot for its Juke phone, which aired three separate times during my "Lost" adventure, is a tonal mismatch with the content -- but it's one of the few instances where that brand-halo crap might actually mean something. I like Verizon Wireless a little more than I did before I knew of its "Lost" affiliation. That counts for something, no?
In fact, I was hoping to view "Missing Pieces" on my spankin'-new Verizon Wireless cellphone, which boasts every unnecessary tchotchke humanly imaginable (MP3 player, tip calculator, umbrella, deep fryer, etc.). Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to get the darn thing to play. Smartphones, alas, are wasted on the stupid. It seems to me that content of this quality demands a larger screen, but I can't really comment without having done the compare-and-contrast thing.
So yeah, I'm sold on "Lost: Missing Pieces," and I'm sold on the potential for other between-season salves on the web and elsewhere. Again, there's nothing mind-blowing here, but any "Lost" fan will be grateful for the few morsels tossed their way; it shows that their investment in the series isn't being taken for granted. That's great for any marketer that affiliates itself with such content and great for "Lost," online and off.
The "Missing Pieces" are kind of like an unexpected visit from an old friend. That's a good thing, unless you're antisocial. More, please.