With the revelations that did come at the beginning of the second season — the subterranean dome, which Locke had been busy unearthing; the discovery of survivors from the tail of Flight 815 — Lost’s writers gave us our first real insight into the mechanics of the island. But in a move that intoxicated some fans and infuriated others, each revelation prompted a dozen additional questions. Even if the writers are ready to extend the show to infinity, are viewers willing to follow along? If we’re made to wait for the unveiling of the monster (sorry, "security system") for years, could the final product ever satisfy us? Creator J.J. Abrams might do well to consider Nip/Tuck, which recently unmasked "the Carver" in its spectacular train wreck of a season finale. (To borrow the royal phrase: we were not amused.)
It would be one thing if Lost’s copycats were merely supernatural thrillers with unseen monsters lurking around their protagonists. Unfortunately, they’ve also decided to borrow the show’s sluggish pacing. This wouldn’t be such a problem for, say, a show like Invasion (following Lost on ABC, Wednesdays at 10), except that it lacks the very thing makes Lost such a fascinating and compulsive watch: the character-driven subplots and back stories that are interspersed with the island action. That’s not to say that Invasion doesn’t try to make us feel for its characters, but the relationships are often needlessly complicated, and the caliber of acting is well below that of the original.
After a small Florida town is hit by a hurricane, the inhabitants who spent the storm in or around the water start acting a bit . . . funny. Their memories of the night of the hurricane are virtually erased, and their loved ones say they can hardly recognize them anymore. At the same time, some people begin seeing bright lights emanating from the town’s lakes and swamps. After about two episodes, it’s clear there’s some pod-person-style body snatching going on, but for whatever reason, Invasion withholds the "truth" for six or seven more episodes. Instead, early episodes of the show focused on two of the town’s couples. In one, ranger Russell Varon (Eddie Cibrian) tries to protect his pregnant reporter wife, Larkin (Lisa Sheridan), from the powers that (may) be as she pursues her hurricane-related theories to apparently dangerous ends. In the other, Russell’s ex-wife, Mariel (Kari Matchett), strives to figure out what really happened to her the night of the hurricane, even as her sheriff husband, Tom (William Fichtner), seems to know more than he’s letting on. The couples also share custody of Russell and Mariel’s two children, and they do so with unbelievable civility.
Tom and Mariel are the more interesting pair to watch, thanks mostly to Fichtner’s creepy performance. Russell and Larkin feel stunted. It could be the script: though Russell gets the lion’s share of screen time, his character seems hastily put together, a stereotypical non-believer who’s beginning to see the light. Then again, it could be the fact that Mariel is at his house daily, or that Larkin’s conspiracy-theory-obsessed blogger brother, Dave (Jack Black clone Tyler Labine), lives with them and is constantly bringing trouble to their lives.