Why mythological shows are often idolized

Why mythological shows are often idolized

I’ve been recently thinking about why some people seem to love Battlestar Galactica’s latter two seasons even though they’re tragically awful. I dare say the same thing about Lost’s latest season.

I’ll be here mostly using those two series as primary examples because they’re so popular, and are still held to very high standards.
Fans have widely criticized Lost’s fifth season. However, if you’ve just very recently watched for the first time the first four seasons, you probably disagree, or, if you agree, you’re probably not seeing how big of a slap the season is towards everything that came before it.

I should point out now, since this will come into play later, that I’ve found the common link (save for some flukes) between the people who like BSG’s third (possibly fourth) season, and Lost’s fifth.
They were peeps who, in the span of days, or weeks, saw the whole show for the first time from A to Z in a few sittings only (or at least are not the people who have been following the shows since the first or second season).
Why is this important? Well marathon-like screenings do not really allow the spectator to “think things through” so to speak.
Basically, mythological shows such as Lost and Battlestar Galactica have overarching storylines, supposedly thought-out, complex, and well-developed. In the case of BSG for instance, that would mainly be the twelve Cylon plotline. Now, I’ve already exposed in previous posts to what extent both Lost and Battlestar Galactica have had more than disappointing revelations exposing their poorly-planned mythologies, so I’m not going to talk about that again.
This post is more about the way their mythology is being perceived and how in the long run, more often than not, such shows are idolized with all flaws removed.
In marathon-like screenings, the mind is somewhat submissive to the story told and the episode. The brain is passive, not active. You don’t have time to really think about the many twists and turns since you’re watching them unfold. You’re “eating” away the episodes, not “digesting” them. Everything will probably seem to blend into a unified storyline instead of finite stories broadcast every week or so with hiatus lasting months in-between seasons. Watching the first three seasons of Battlestar back-to-back won’t be the same thing as having been there since 2003.
For one thing, you didn’t theorize during Season One or Season Two. That might not seem all that important, but not being able to think for several months or years (or even only days in the case of a marathon) about who the twelve Cylons are won’t make you aware of how preposterous the introduction of the Final Five during the show’s third Season is. If you care a little bit about a show, you’ll surely think about it, start asking yourself questions. Let’s be honest, we all have way too much time on our hands and we love to theorize. Shows such as BSG or Lost work because you can theorize about them all day long… Until you can’t due to a faulty mythology.
Turns out, when watching episodes back-to-back you don’t have months to think about “what’s in the Hatch” or anything else that deserves theorizing. You’re not expecting special answers either, so you rarely end up disappointed either.
The poor planning of Lost’s mytho was shown with such glaring plot holes and atrocious revelations (or rather pseudo-revelations out of the blue) as featured in its fifth season finale. Despite this, to what extent it nullifies the preceding four seasons would be hard to tell without hindsight, an asset nonexistent with a marathon since there’s no time to look at the big picture.
You’re also head first in the story itself, not what goes on outside the series. By that I mean that at the end of, let’s say, watching Battlestar’s first season, you’re not going to look for news article dating back 5 years. The same goes for Lost with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse’s various contradictory interviews between when the show started (2004) and now (2009), especially regarding questions/mythological plot points that would get answered (or not). You’d be surprised at how antinomic some of their remarks are (same goes for Ronald D. Moore). They’re also very hard to track down.
The bottom line here is that, in the end, you need to be able to take a step back. You need to have time to think things through to really enjoy in a more objective fashion a show and its mythology.
It will be interesting to see how all of this will play out with FlashForward, given that not only has the “FF date” been stopped (April 20th), but flash-forwards are already being shown in the pilot.
The X-Files is considered to be a great mytho show. Ironically, it only has a fourth of such episodes. And, if you really take a look at them, you’ll see how many plot holes there are. Despite those, The X-Files is idolized and remembered as one of the greatest mythological show in TV history.
Battlestar Galactica is already branded as the greatest sci-fi show ever.
In five-year time, Lost will probably join the ranks of such cult show as Twin Peaks, regardless of its “objective” lack of mythological planning.

But, hey, it’s the thought that counts, not its execution. Right?

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Alex Freedman

I'm Alex Freedman, the writer behind TV Calling.


I started this site in 2008 to chronicle my own journey in television writing.

675 posts and 9 years later, TV Calling has also become a comprehensive resource dedicated to the full TV writing industry — from spec to success.


Everything here is written by yours truly (unless otherwise credited), so feel free to blame me for any missed deadlines.


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