Written by: Lance Carmichael, CC2K Staff Writer
The Tale of the Tape
So, fifteen years after the cancellation of Twin Peaks after just two seasons (and one season too late, at that), one of the major networks has managed to produce an hour-long show that’s actually somewhat watchable: Lost. And the Republic has rejoiced: Americans everywhere wander into oncoming traffic with their eyes glued to downloaded episodes on their 2”x3” Ipod screens. I held out against the Lost phenomenon as long as I could, but in the end, nothing can resist the tsunami of publicity a successful show whips up.
But is Lost really worthy of all its praise, or do we just have incredibly low standards for passable network television? To find out, I’ve decided to break down the show and compare it to our culture’s other beloved “deserted island” show: Gilligan’s Island.
[Editor’s note: the author of this article has only seen the first twelve episodes of Lost, so if any of the writing on Lost seems outdated (if, for instance, Jack dies of auto-erotic asphyxiation and the rest of the islanders discover a huge cache of kiddie porn in his medic bag in episode #13, and yet the writer constantly refers to him as “heroic,” please don’t see it as an endorsement of child pornography or unsafe masturbatory practices), then you know why.]
Let the battle begin!
Dr. Jack vs. the Skipper
Strengths: M.D. Studied at the John Corbett School for Men with Virile Masculine Presences Combined with Feminine Caretaker Personalities.
Weaknesses: Tends to fall prey to crippling flashbacks about his father at key moments. Total pussy when it comes to the ladies: one of those friends who’s really good-looking and no one can figure out why he never hooks up with any chicks, despite innumerable opportunities, so his friends split into three factions: 1. He’s gay, 2. he has incredibly high standards, or 3. he’s a total pussy.
Strengths: A dashing figure, whether at the helm of an endangered pleasure boat or snoring in a hammock below Gilligan. His all-American, no-nonsense personality works like gangbusters when paired with the willowy comic shenanigans of Bob Denver.
Weaknesses: Shitty skipper: shipwrecked his boat in uncharted waters on a quickie three-hour tour. In retrospect, definitely a “functional alcoholic.” Also a lardo.
The verdict: The Skipper. A close call, but swayed by one of my cardinal rules of crossover comparisons: when in doubt, pick against the guy with daddy issues. The Skipper benefits from existing in a time before television had caught onto the revolutionary “flashback” technique.
Hurley vs. Gilligan
Strengths: “Comic relief.” Naturally chatty, expository nature a lazy writer’s best friend.
Weaknesses: Immobility due to extreme girth makes him an easy “make” in prison-like environment of the island.
Strengths: Looks surprisingly good wearing coconut bra, grass skirt. Body can actually work as a radio receiver when knocked in the head with a crate by the Skipper.
Weaknesses: Aforementioned willowy comic shenanigans often lead the castaways into hot water.
The verdict: Gilligan. Willowy comic shenanigans had a way of getting the castaways out of jams as easily as it led them into them.
Mr. Locke vs. the Professor
Strengths: A fuckin’ bag full of knives, for one thing. Able to kill wild boars and solve flashback-induced psychological problems within the same forty-two minutes. Plus, ready access to Native American Wisdom and far Eastern mysticism provides a much-needed counterpoint to Jack’s cold, rationale Man of Science, not unlike the air of religious mysticism our Beloved President tries to affect provides a telling counterpoint to the rest of the Western World.
Weaknesses: Confusingly named: John Locke was the father of the Enlightenment, not some glorified boy scout who thinks he can talk to the trees. More importantly, this John Locke was a total loser before stranding. Probable virgin.
Strengths: Great hair. Sharp dresser. Ability to make radios out of coconuts–and that’s just the start. Fuck MacGuyver: the phrase “His mind is the ultimate weapon” applies more to this man than anybody else on TV earth.
Weaknesses: Totally asexual: failed to pick up on the lusty signals of wealthy socialite Erika Tiffany Smith, a friend of the Howells who came to Gilligan’s Island in search of a place to build a luxury hotel, husband. Probable virgin.
The verdict: Locke. But only because I’m assuming that by season two he enlists Treebeard and the Ents to fight on his side versus the villainous Others.
Kate vs. Mary Ann
Strengths: Hot. Natural beauty, which is good on an island where base and mascara probably ran out in week three.
Weaknesses: Tendency to fall prey to flashback-induced regrets. Huge cock-tease.
Strengths: Hot. Wholesome. Able to get dirty without being too slutty about it.
Weaknesses: The fact that she’s forever stuck in 1964 means she’s also stuck in pre-Sexual Revolution attitudes towards getting down.
The Verdict: Mary Ann. The fact that she was stuck on an island with four absolutely unfuckable guys for an interminable period of time ensures she’d be practically begging for it.
Sawyer vs. Duke Williams
Strengths: Hoards most of the supplies on the island. Personality derived from subconscious ripples sent into pop culture ether by whoever came up with the “No Fear” marketing campaign means he’s a big hit with the ladies, who love a bad boy. At least during high school. Then they tend to like consultants and lawyers.
Weaknesses: "Mr. Rough Trade," as he was known back in the outside world, is also a complete asshole. Brunette roots more apparent as time away from his tips-froster in fave West Hollywood hair salon increases.
Strengths: Peerless surfer: rode a tsunami wave all the way from Hawaii to Gilligan’s Island, rested, worked out, rode another tsunami back.
Weaknesses: Amnesia caused by bumping his head made him forget to tell the outside world the tale of the S.S. Minnow makes him unreliable in a tight spot.
The verdict: Sawyer. Cool grifting career before stranding guarantees him post-rescue livelihood as creative consultant on scores of future David Mamet/ Joe Mantegna vehicles.
Boone vs. Thurston Howell III
Strenghts: Dramatic cheekbones, piercing eyes. Rich.
Weaknesses: Took his sister to the test. Also, suffers from rare virus (only caught in network television writer’s rooms) that attacks and quickly destroys all vestiges of a human personality
Thurston Howell III
Strengths: Rich. Sharp dresser. Cinematic genius: In Episode #43, he directed a silent epic about the castaways' plight that was set adrift in the hopes of warning the world of their predicament; instead, it was mistaken for a lost work of Ingmar Bergman and won the Palm D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
The verdict: Thurston. His brand of “compassionate conservatism” inspired a generation of “rebel rightists”: so generous to the less-fortunate that after the castaways learned that Gilligan had the winning ticket in a South American lottery, the Howells allowed him to join their country club (of which they were the only members).
Shannon vs. Lovey Howell
Weaknesses: She exists.
Strengths: Named Lovey. Married to Thurston.
Weaknesses: Constancy of heart comes into doubt when an impostor Thurston shows up on the island and she can’t tell them apart. Also once got kidnapped by a gorilla: you never get over that.
The Verdict: Lovey, in a landslide.
Charlie vs. Wrongway Feldman
Strengths: Drug addict who knows how to let his hair down and party. Semi-celebrity status ensures a steady supply of floozies and Jezebels when he gets back to civilization.
Weaknesses: Drive Shaft kind of sucked. Plus he was only the bassist, which is only a tiny step above being a roadie.
Strengths: Friendly neighbor. Aviator Feldman disappeared 33 years before the castaways discovered him living alive and well on the island. Befriended the Professor, who helped rebuild his plane and get him off the island.
Weaknesses: Dumbfuck. Despite being christened “Wrongway,” still became a pilot. Also, forgot the castaways coordinates when he got back to civilization.
The Verdict: Charlie. Anybody who’s tangled with the “H” and lived to tell about it deserves a modicum of respect.
The Others vs. The Harlem Globetrotters
[Since I haven’t actually gotten to the episodes where the Others make their appearance, all I know about them is what I’ve off-handedly gleaned from Lost references in the media. Which means I really know nothing. That said, I’ll have to guess about their strengths and weaknesses]
Stengths: Ability to fly, superhuman hearing, power to alter their cells allows them to shape-shift for short periods of time, impervious to flash-back induced crises.
Weaknesses: Dark chocolate.
The Harlem Globetrotters
Strengths: Only known basketball team in the history of the world to wear microphones hooked up to the PA system during games. Ability to spin balls on fingertips, pull down shorts of opposing players gives them huge advantage over teams consisting solely of white guys, evil robots.
Weaknesses: Shaky in big games: nearly lost to evil robots programmed by Martin Landau when rights to the island and its precious supply of Supremium were on the line.
The verdict: The Harlem Globetrotters. Although if someone started whistling “Sweet Georgia Brown” whenever the Others appeared on-screen, it might be another story.
Final Verdict: Gilligan’s Island, in a squeaker. Lost castaways have proven their mettle so far, but let’s see how they handle seven different Japanese submariners who still think WWII is still underway showing up on the same day as the Harlem Globetrotters and Phyllis Diller.