Okay, I know everyone is as tired as I am of various shows being called "the next Lost" (let's be honest, Lost was a completely unique television phenomenon that can never be truly replicated), and I've already said my piece about the popular candidates for Lost comparison on television right now. But after watching the third episode of AMC's new zombie hit The Walking Dead (based on the graphic novel series of the same name) I couldn't help but be reminded of the glory of Lost's first season. The survival aspect really lends the show to some of the same themes we saw in Lost, and this week we got to see the implications of living in a society without any real law enforcement (unless you count Sawyer--I mean Shane--beating the crap out of a woman's abusive husband). The scene that most intensely triggered my Lost spidey sense, however, was Sheriff Rick's announcement that he was going to go back to zombie-infested Atlanta to rescue the racist redneck he'd handcuffed to a department store roof. I'm not sure if he actually said the words "We have to go back," which Jack so famously uttered in the season three finale, but my Lost-obsessed brain definitely heard them. For these purposes, Rick's wife Lori will be playing the part of Kate. She was, of course, appalled that Rick would even think of going back into that death trap when he'd just been reunited with his family, including a young son (Aaron anyone?). I'm not saying The Walking Dead is the new Lost, I'm simply noting my thorough enjoyment at the similarities between the two shows. If only the zombies were as smart and manipulative as the Others, then we'd have a real likeness going. Next week on The Walking Dead: "Not Glenn's van."
It's been five and a half months since one of the most legendary shows to ever grace our television screens went off the air, and despite ample speculation and high hopes for some new shows, a solid replacement for Lost has yet to emerge. Last year's ensemble drama FlashForward seemed promising, with its dense mythology, sci-fi-tinged mystery, and two Lost alums in the cast (Sonya Walger and Dominic Monaghan), but it struggled ratings-wise and didn't make it past a first season.
This Fall TV season brought with it the much-buzzed-about new drama The Event, which many thought would be the next Lost for most of the same reasons as FlashForward: it has a big cast, plenty of action, and each week pulls back a layer to reveal another mystery. I can't speak for everyone, but I think it's safe to say that The Event has not lived up to the initial expectations that accompanied the Lost comparisons. Personally, I stopped watching after the third episode. But it hasn't been canceled yet, so I guess it's still a contender.
The Walking Dead is fairly new (though AMC did just order a second season of the hit zombie drama), and a show about zombies doesn't exactly scream Lost, but I for one would like to throw its name into the ring. Firstly, the reanimated corpses of The Walking Dead aren't a far cry from the (SPOILER ALERT) walking dead people that we frequently saw on the Island of Lost. (Although they were generally Smokey in disguise.) Or perhaps a better comparison for the zombies would be the Others: they're both usually trying to kill you, have a distinct vacant stare, and never shower. Now all they need is a clever, rodent-like leader. Like Lost, the majority of Walking Dead's plot is generated by the characters' perpetual struggle to survive under extreme circumstances. One of the things that reminded me most of Lost as I was watching Sunday's episode of Walking Dead (the second of the season) was the main character, Rick. He, like our dear Jack Shephard, seems to be the tragic hero, only Rick is a sheriff rather than a doctor. Am I the only one who half-expected to hear the phrase "live together, die alone" come out of the sheriff's mouth while he was laying down the law on top of that department store roof? He's most certainly the fearless leader of the group. There also seems to be a love triangle in the making between Rick, his wife (who thinks he's dead), and his (sort of) bad boy partner. If it goes where I think it's going, we might have a Jack/Kate/Sawyer situation on our hands. Or maybe I'm stretching the comparison a bit here, but you can't deny there's definitely some resemblance.
When all is said and done, though, I tend to agree with Entertainment Weekly's resident Lost expert Doc Jensen that the "true heir to the Lost throne" is actually the ratings-challenged Fox series Fringe. The underappreciated sci-fi drama (now in its third season) features alternate realities, scientific "impossibilities" (i.e. time travel), and a group known as "the Observers" who apparently oversee the unfolding of events while never aging. (Richard Alpert anyone?) Fringe has the mythology, the quality acting (someone give John Noble an Emmy already), the masterful storytelling, and the pedigree (created by Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams) to fill the void of Lost. Though Lost can never really be replaced, I think Fringe is definitely our best bet. So if you love Lost, turn your TV to Fox on Thursday nights and watch Fringe so it doesn't get canceled.