The Television Thread

Mr. Reindeer

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Apr 13, 2022
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I did a background acting job (I forget if I mentioned I do that) with him on this show he was in called Evil. I was just utterly star struck the entire time. He seemed nice and he smiled at me as we both go through a court house door together in the shot. I wanted to talk to him so bad but you're just super not allowed to do that, plus it can be rude and distracting for them.
That's great. He's definitely one of my acting heroes, as a guy who didn't break through until he was middle aged and just got into the industry through pure persistence and talent. He elevates everything he's in, from Saw to Person of Interest, but Ben Linus is his masterpiece. He and Terry O'Quinn became really great friends, and always talked about doing something else together (they were supposed to be writing an "Odd Couple assassins" show together). I really hope that happens someday.

I've also heard he's an absolute sweetheart, despite the terrifying characters he plays onscreen. One of my favorite pieces of Lost trivia is that he insisted that his wife play Ben's mother, which is creepy as hell...but if you follow his social media, he and his wife seem to have such a healthy sweet relationship.
 

Jordan Cole

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Sep 22, 2022
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I've also heard he's an absolute sweetheart, despite the terrifying characters he plays onscreen. One of my favorite pieces of Lost trivia is that he insisted that his wife play Ben's mother, which is creepy as hell...but if you follow his social media, he and his wife seem to have such a healthy sweet relationship.

And I was on a background job with his wife a few weeks ago! She's starring in a show titled Elsbeth, a spinoff of The Good Wife. It was such a horrible shoot though, freezing freezing cold for hours. Sigh.
 

MasterMastermnd

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Apr 12, 2022
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Finished Lost! I really enjoyed reading all the discussion lately, but since much of it concerned the end of the show I figured I should at least watch it before chiming in.

In previous years I'd considered the final season good, but not my favorite year of the show. Now I'd say, irrespective of whether it's my favorite, there's a good case to be made for it being the single boldest year of the show. I know I've said before there was a sense of people sometimes not seeing the forest for the trees with Lost when it was on, and that might be especially true of the final season. I'm in awe of the fact this thing even exists. This is a season which entirely jettisons the complicated high strangeness of the past season for something stark and minimalist. It's like Lost goes from being the high water mark of the Richard Kelly 2000s sci-fi and gets in on the ground floor of the kind of highly intentional, mythological storytelling we might label "A24 style" today. Nicolas Winding Refn's Valhalla Rising had only just come out, other stuff like Ben Wheatley's Kill List and even A24 itself weren't yet out!

Instead of watching like a hawk because of so many moving parts, you're watching like a hawk because every word feels like it carries the utmost importance. It's like they really embrace the Japanese "ma" philosophy, some of the headiest storytelling of it's kind this side of Twin Peaks: The Return.

For the other half of the season you're asked to devote significant time as an audience to something completely separate from the plot, something centered around irony and juxtaposition, devoted entirely to character and theme. That's pretty crazy in television. I might expect in a few anime shows like Shin Sekai Yori, but not so often in western tv.

I can see why some would dislike it. They might have expected it to get a little easier in the end but if anything it gets harder, but I did enjoy the way it caused me to really consider each episode, each line, to form an interpretation.

Another bold decision, and one I can see people not liking, is the show's decision to end with "Lost as fantasy." I think some people just like thrillers and sci-fi more than fantasy, and Lindelof decides to go out with mystics, demigods, and ancient, magic relics. Jacob's theme is pointedly reminiscent of Indiana Jones, another slice of spiritualist magic realism, and we have a bigger visual shift than in season five. The Island is framed now as a particularly magical place, a place just slightly unreal, a place which causes us to question the nature of our existence and how the world works. This probably owes to the generally slower pace of season six compared to season five.

Where we once saw a special high-tech fence built to repel the Smoke Monster, we now see magic ash, imbued with the power of the Island's source and collected by Jacob at a deposit somewhere around the Island.

Where we once saw Daniel Faraday's complex mathematical equations which allowed him to gain a sense for time's flow, we now see an ancient lighthouse with the ability to see the Variables, now the Candidates, across space and time. Where once we had "negatively charged exotic matter imbued with electromagnetism," we now have "the Source of life, death, and rebirth."

First Lost examined the political narrative, then the scientific narrative, it finally turns toward the spiritualist narrative. We're introduced to a kind of Sufist for the Others named Dogen, played with great majesty by Hiroyuki Sanada. Dogen is certainly learned, part of the Other's secret Cool Kids Club Jacob personally recruited, almost certainly as a reaction to Charles Widmore embracing capitalism as a way to execute his duties, a perfect example of Jacob's avoidant leadership style. As we get to know him, however, we come to see he's out of his element, just a salaryman who nearly got his kid killed, spouting reductive mumbo jumbo which we know could only be true in some metaphorical sense.

From then on we move to Jacob and his brother, feuding demigods whom we find not forthcoming and ultimately woefully underinformed as to the nature of things in their own right. This ultimately leads us to their Mother, who seems like she might legitimately know things, things she's learned from painful experience, things she seeks to hide from her sons, a mistake in itself. Each man (or woman) behind the curtain only leads to another, and every narrative ultimately fails to completely comprehend the nature of the universe, because what human could know?

My interpretation of a lot of the imagery we see in season six (gleaned with assistance of course from having rewatched it, having had many discussions with other fans, articles and videos etc I either did or did not agree with over the years) that the Island was put there by the Source, the energy at the heart of the Island itself. I believe that energy is sentient, fourth dimensional, noncorporeal, a nexus between space, time, consciousness, and the Beyond. It has been here since the beginning. Just as we're comprised of the same basic building blocks as the planets and stars we depend upon for survival, so too are we in part comprised of that Source energy (per Mother in Across the Sea). This energy crisscrosses the globe, concentrated at certain pockets (as Isaac of Uluru tells Rose in season two), with the Island as it's primary font. This is how the Island moves, and makes the Island the Axis Mundi, the place on Earth in which all the planes of existence are linked, a bit like the World Tree in Norse mythology. We see the Island encompasses the material worlds of the living and the dead, it moves through space and facilitates movement through time, and upon death our inner light, our souls, return to the Source and enter Bardo. This process can be interrupted for various reasons, and those lost souls collect around the Axis Mundi as the Whispers.

The energy itself sits in a cave, kept in balance by the cooling water circulating the Island and the volcanic energy underneath, and the specific properties of this energy change according to a number of factors including intensity and method of exposure, climate, etc.

Often throughout the show we see people who are ageless, but not immortal. The Island is the biggest such example. Another theme is people who work through intermediaries. Ben works through Tom, Widmore works through Zoe, Jacob works through Richard. The Island also depends on an intermediary, giving this person a modicum of control over the flow of time and existence to both protect the Island and work its will. This intermediary is chosen by absorbing cooled energy from the upper level of the Source pocket itself, which gives this person significant power over the world of the living. A further, but not strictly necessary step, is for the Intermediary to lower themselves down into the cave, and absorb the hellish energy at the bottom of the pocket, which grants them power over the world of the dead. Only the Intermediary can do this without suffering a "fate worse than death." Mother made Jacob the Intermediary in a pinch, and in his ignorance he threw his brother down the cave and turned him into the Lord of the Dead. Where the circuit once flowed through one, it now flowed through two.

I believe the Smoke Monster pretended to take an interest in the task of guarding the Island, overseeing a community of Egyptians and Romans with Jacob, long enough to convince some of them to finish his task of building a wheel to channel the Island's energy to try and leave. The system they built was half-assed, and broke the circulation of water, interrupting the Light and creating the same conditions seen in the end of the show. Jacob had to take some guys to reset the Wheel, build a series of aqueducts to ensure the Wheel could be turned safely in the future, probably directing some to the Temple to bless for healing purposes as payment, per the stone cork referencing their feud. This would have heightened the schism between the Brothers, which is why the chambers devoted to the Monster in the bowels of the Temple were long blocked off, to the point where even Ben Linus didn't know about them. The Monster and his loyalists would have then left and built living quarters where the Dharma Barracks would eventually be constructed, which is why the Monster can actively be summoned from there (by draining a pool).

Their feud simmered, Jacob seeing it as a mere philosophical dispute, until 1867, at which point the Monster conscripted Richard to kill Jacob. Jacob at that point understood he needed to be searching for his replacement, and thus found 108 Candidates to succeed him.

The Monster began to search for his own Candidates to kill Jacob, trying out Richard, then Mr. Eko, before settling on Ben Linus. Eventually he succeeds, and then the circuit is broken. Unbalanced, the Island begins to behave strangely, especially where Jacob worked his magic as Intermediary. Where the Temple spring once healed the living, it now resurrects the dead, Richard Alpert begins to age, and so on.

You can see all kinds of thematic ideas rising from all this subtle non-discursive storytelling. It's a metaphor for leadership: Jacob is meek and avoidant, his brother manipulative for his own petty ends. It symbolizes the concept of history repeating: competing tribes of Egyptians and Romans, the military and Alpert's group, the Hostiles and the Dharma Initiative, the Castaways and the Others. New feuds often built atop the ruins of the old. It symbolizes the constructive vs destructive impulses of mankind. Turning the Wheel upset the balance, mankind had eaten from the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Turns out Morrissey is wrong (surprise surprise), the light can go out, we can be the causes of our own extinction.

It's funny all this sits beside a few moments of almost laughably obvious storytelling. They hold a guy's head underwater and Hurley shouts "YOU'RE NOT SAVIN' HIM, YER DROWNIN' HIM!" Yes, thanks Hurley, couldn't have figured it without you. Sun speaks English for the first time in a few episodes and Frank says "looks like someone got their voice back." Yes Frank, thank you, couldn't have figured it out without you. Obviously the reveal of the Whispers is another example. I know that's relatively normal, Twin Peaks has done that, too, but it's still funny.

As for the ending, I love it. It's true the ending is likely somewhat determined by the realities and even politics of producing network television, but what means the most to me is that about any given episode of this show could make me cry. Probably happened with every major character at least once. So to me, to see these people, to move on with these people, to let go of the time I had with them, is what matters. That's what means the most to me, and it's probably the most moving finale of any show I've ever seen alongside Peaks (season two, FWWM, The Return, Lynch nails it every time).

One last stray observation: I really like the storytelling around the decline of the Dharma Initiative. We know the two organizations held a truce, and just as our characters caused the Incident which led to their plane crashing, they also hastened the end for Dharma. Dharma would have considered their presence an infiltration, the Others would have learned they were breaking the terms of the truce and making highly destructive mistakes, so as soon as they felt the Island was safe enough to travel on without hazmat suits relations would no doubt soon break down completely. I believe Ben Linus found evidence Dharma intended to annex the Temple (a memo he later gives Alex) and so Widmore would have initiated the Purge, the Gettysburg as it were for the Initiative's war with the Others. At that point Radzinsky would have taken control from the Swan, relaying orders to people hunkered down in the remaining militarized stations as they fought the last bitter years of the war, recruiting spooks like Kelvin instead of scientists, and also likely why Radzinsky spliced out the bit about using the computer to communicate. What was once bad opsec is now a necessity. Eventually the Swan would have been the only station left, practically impossible to take since it was heavily fortified, manned by ex-soldiers, and doing important work on equipment the Others couldn't compromise, so they just decided to monitor from the Pearl station and leave them be. Eventually this led to the revelation the Oceanic 815 survivors had gotten in, which led to Ben watching them to formulate a plan to convince Jack to operate on him, which led to him getting captured, which frames the whole second half of season two. Sometimes Lost is very elegant.
 
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Mr. Reindeer

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Apr 13, 2022
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@MasterMastermnd

I’ve seen Lost at a minimum six times all the way through (some of the earlier seasons probably more than that, as when it was airing, I tended to rewatch between seasons when the DVDs came out). I most recently did a rewatch in early 2022. I do still struggle with the final season, which is GOOD, but doesn’t feel GREAT in the way that all of the first five seasons do. It just always feels like a bit of a letdown (aside from some obvious high points like “Ab Aeterno” and the finale itself). A lot of wheel-spinning (characters going back and forth between the main Island and the Hydra Island over and over without moving anything forward), some overly clunky attempts to pay tribute to earlier seasons (Sun losing the ability to speak English due to head trauma is just about the stupidest thing the show ever did), and some of the mythology stuff seeming a bit too obvious or familiar (e.g., the blatant copying of The Stand, right down to naming a character “the Man in Black”). However, I really enjoyed your post. A lot of food for thought there, and whenever I next decide to watch the show, I’m definitely going to have to find this post again, as I think your thoughts could increase my appreciation and give me a different perspective.
 

Jordan Cole

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Sep 22, 2022
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I’ve seen Lost at a minimum six times all the way through (some of the earlier seasons probably more than that, as when it was airing, I tended to rewatch between seasons when the DVDs came out). I most recently did a rewatch in early 2022. I do still struggle with the final season, which is GOOD, but doesn’t feel GREAT in the way that all of the first five seasons do.

Yep. By the time LOST season 6 was airing, all of my friends had been successfully converted, and we were now holding huge watch parties during many weeks. The feeling of underwhelming disappointment each week in season 6 was palpable. I remember we all organized a big get together at my friend's place for what ended up being the Kate episode ("What Kate Does"), and it was such a dud (possibly the actual worst one of the season.) I think that was when I started to really go "uh oh." I do still like the season, because as you said, it's GOOD. It has enough big moments to renew interest every so often.
 

MasterMastermnd

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Apr 12, 2022
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Some of the callbacks are really elegant, like finally finding Shannon's inhaler, but Sun getting aphasia feels like they stumbled across some concept in the slush pile from 2004 and decided to run with it. Not as effective as the appendicitis throwback concept a few years prior.
 

Mr. Reindeer

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Apr 13, 2022
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Yep. By the time LOST season 6 was airing, all of my friends had been successfully converted, and we were now holding huge watch parties during many weeks. The feeling of underwhelming disappointment each week in season 6 was palpable. I remember we all organized a big get together at my friend's place for what ended up being the Kate episode ("What Kate Does"), and it was such a dud (possibly the actual worst one of the season.) I think that was when I started to really go "uh oh." I do still like the season, because as you said, it's GOOD. It has enough big moments to renew interest every so often.
I heard a podcast maybe two years back (or maybe it was four—it might have been the tenth anniversary of the finale) where Lindelof says that the final season was when he was happiest, because knowing that it was all going to be over soon, he learned to just savor the relationships and the experience while it lasted. But in classic Damon fashion, he also acknowledges that maybe he’s a better writer when he’s miserable and neurotic, so his sense of contentment might have hurt the season.
 

Jordan Cole

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Sep 22, 2022
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But in classic Damon fashion, he also acknowledges that maybe he’s a better writer when he’s miserable and neurotic

Isn't everybody? Jesus christ, I know I was. I did all my best songwriting and creative work during my single and dating years. I was just so hungry for an outlet and to impress people and to get out all my horrible feelings. Now I'm generally content, kind of sleepy and lazy, and I really really have to force myself to write something.

I am amazed to hear the final season of Lost didn't make Lindelof feel miserable and neurotic. You'd think the pressure would be on.
 

AXX°N N.

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Apr 14, 2022
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I've got to agree with the last few posts (including an appreciation for your post, MasterMastermnd!) in that I have less enthusiasm for season 6. When I think of it I think of how little the temple setting and season-exclusive characters worked for me, and elements that were superbly handled, like say, Sayid-centric action scenes, for the first time felt strained, contrived and ultimately arbitrary; I think of the opener to Sayid's centric episode and how obligatory it felt that he just began an action scene out of nowhere for the sake of there being one.

I feel like its highest high for me, the finale, even feels weirdly detached from the season--less the logical outcome of the season (at least stylistically) and more a finale for the entire series, almost to the point of feeling like it came out as a capstone years after the fact or something. Its sense of excitement, preoccupations, all of it feel totally different from the rest of the season, which feels loaded down and nearly defined by dragged rubber. The character of Ilana, for instance, feels like she has next to zero bearing on the events of the finale.

Ultimately, there's this feeling that the season is less an exercise in narrative for its own sake, like all the prior ones, and more like getting things out of the way and ordering things that have all piled up to make room for the finale. And although the flash-sideways are ultimately essential for the finale being what it fundamentally is, the risk of introducing a narrative conceit/framing device that is specifically and literally starting over from square one ... not only in content, but in pacing and tone ... it all adds up to this feeling like air was let out of the balloon, or gas running dry for the engine. Individual elements are fine and dandy but their overlap is kind of a mess.

I don't think it helps that it follows from season 5, when the show was not only featuring the most parts moving all at once but even balancing them successfully, and was in this epic home-stretch of ramping up intrigue and excitement exponentially. That whole season is such a rush and achievement to me ... and then it, I guess necesarilly, has to skid to a stop almost from the first moment of season 6. I remember having an "uh oh" feeling at the elaborate CGI sequence that ends the first scene of the season, where it panned through tons of landscape, a moment that felt, for the first time, overly ambitious visually at the sake of narrative. And those moments continue throughout the season, as if the series has hit a kind of saturation point of things getting down to the very real wire of "is this working?" and "is this not working?" that I suppose defines a series when the floor is removed and it's got to land its narrative on two feet, do or die fashion. I feel like it had a 7/10 success rate.

There's a lot to love in the season, but it's got massive baggage for me.
 
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MasterMastermnd

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Apr 12, 2022
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One thing that's true about me is I'm the biggest Katehead of any Lost fan I know. Seems like I always like her episodes more than everyone else. I don't mind the slower pace myself and think it is another big swing, but it's the kind of swing I can see just not working for everyone.
 

Jordan Cole

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I think the problem with Kate for me has always been she just feels too much like a TV character and not as real as the others. Granted, all of the characters are archetypes or cartoony to an extent and some are like other TV genre characters dropped right into Lost. But fashion model Kate's criminal escapades and how well she can navigate in a jungle just feel so silly to me. And something about her flashback stories never grabbed me or my friends. It's fair that a character like Sawyer is also kind of a cartoon, but his stories are just so much more fun and compelling. I don't dislike Kate, I really love all the characters in Lost, but it became a running joke with my friends, "a Kate episode."

This is not to say her chemistry with the other characters falters. Her and Jack, or her and Sawyer light up the screen. Or her and Ben!
 

Mr. Reindeer

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I think Evangeline Lilly did the best acting of her entire career in those first two seasons of Lost, which was literally her first time ever acting other than a little bit of background work she’d done. The character started to get bogged down with all the love triangle stuff and I think she lost a lot of her mystique and coolness after the first two seasons.
 
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MasterMastermnd

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That's a good point re: the initial character archetypes we see in the show. Something I like about it is how those very pulpy character concepts build outward into something with real depth. The hotshot doctor, the femme fatale, the traumatized soldier, etc.
 

AXX°N N.

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I recently rewatched with a friend and that's something that stuck out to us. They initially weren't too hot on the show because the characters were too "television," and they remarked on how extreme the characters developed over the course. Jack was the biggest one for them and they did a total 180, where he was their least favorite early on but became a favorite, if not the favorite by the end.

I always took it as regular people being afforded a unique chance to change and grow as individuals--but it is true that it's more specifically and deeply entwined into television writing than that; these are character archetypes turning into more complex versions of those archetypes, if not outright transcending those initial roles. Or maybe you could say both are true at once, because aren't archetypes in their own way a stab at capturing the variations of human complexity, the simple and the profound?
 

MasterMastermnd

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One last little thing I like about that final season is how it feels like a steady march towards what happens in the submarine. Obviously Jin and Sun, but not just them. Sawyer's primary thread is one of impotence. He seeks direction after Juliet's death and spends the season careening about, trying to determine who to trust in an impossible situation. Does he trust the man who got her killed? The monster who wears the face of a man he once knew? The man who sent a bunch of mercenaries to the Island who almost killed him? This paralysis culminates in him making a decision on the submarine which costs a bunch of people their lives. Similarly, Sayid died in a years long state of deep depression, and is resurrected in that state, now with added questions about his nature and worth shoveled atop his already frayed mind. He's sent over to the Hydra Island where he finds Desmond, a man he hasn't seen in years, and a man whose life he worked hard to save, a man who reminds him of a time when his life was something more than contract killing and attempted child murder. Desmond in effect becomes Sayid's Constant, calling him back to himself, culminating in him making a decision on the submarine which prevents Sawyer's from being even worse, and so on.
 

Dom

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Ordered on Blu-ray today from the US (cos it's unavailable/out of print in the UK) the complete Ash vs Evil Dead! I've seen a couple of episodes on streaming, but as a huge Evil Dead fan, I've got to own the discs. As a general rule, anything Bruce Campbell is in is worth a watch. At some point, I'll buy the The Evil Dead 4K, because the Blu-ray I own is a poor quality scan, zoomed to 16:9. Army of Darkness is poor here too, but the 4K isn't out yet. Evil Dead 2 is a good copy, fortunately!
 

Jordan Cole

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Sep 22, 2022
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Ash vs Evil Dead is really fun, and the pilot directed by Raimi is fantastic and a must-watch for any Evil Dead fan. The show has its share of production difficulties though, and there's a finale they had to totally rewrite at the last minute due to the showrunner being fired and ideas he had been setting up all season being thrown away. Kind of insane and unfortunate situation.
 

Jordan Cole

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Sep 22, 2022
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I have found it strange that there would be buzz about these bland new Evil Dead movies, and tons of articles, rumors and excitement about Bruce Campbell cameoing or being involved. I'm like they made an entire TV series with this character. Do the fans genuinely not know about it?
 

Dom

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Jul 10, 2022
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I have found it strange that there would be buzz about these bland new Evil Dead movies, and tons of articles, rumors and excitement about Bruce Campbell cameoing or being involved. I'm like they made an entire TV series with this character. Do the fans genuinely not know about it?
It reminds me of something Douglas Adams said a long time ago about his Dirk Gently novels. He remarked that people would read the Gently novels, enjoy them, but effectively say, with some impatience, 'Yes, that's all very nice! So, when are you writing the next Hitchhiker's novel?' So, although Bruce has made Ash vs Evil Dead for TV, there's a section of fans who are still waiting for - and demanding - another movie as a 'real' continuation.

The other issue is that Ash vs Evil Dead was a cable series and, internationally, not everyone had access to the series. I have no idea if or when it was broadcast in the UK. Last year, my elderly Dad (86 at the time) had surgery that forced him to have to stay in one position for fifty minutes in every hour for a fortnight. Both attempts at the operation failed, sadly, I bought him the entire series to watch on iTunes download (which actually cost me more than importing the Blu-rays to the UK from the US has!!) When he was fixed in his special chair facing the floor, I wired his into his iPad. Every so often, my Mum and I could hear a chainsaw or a scream leaking out of the headphones and my Dad (who was miserable as sin due to what he was going through) snorting with laughter!! He's a big time Bruce Campbell fan!! :D

I'm looking forward to watching the series at last. Bruce has said he won't play Ash again, but I'm not convinced he'll ever entirely let the character go. As you know, I was fine with the Fede Álvarez film as a one-off parallel universe/semi-sequel to the first film, but I hated Evil Dead Rise. I'd actually be fine with teaming up Bruce and Jane Levy for a reality-warping Sam Raimi film to wrap things up.
 
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