How Oceanic 815 went down

November 26th, 2012

TV critic Alan Sepinwall on the origins of Lost:

The story of Lost makes no sense.

And by that I don't mean the story on the show – though this is the point where you can feel free to insert jokes about the numbers, the outrigger shootout, or the reasons why Walt was "special" – but the story of how Lost itself got made.

The creation of Lost defies nearly everything we know about how successful television shows – or great ones – are made. The idea for Lost came not from a writer, but a network executive. The first writer on the project got fired. The replacement creative team had a fraction of the usual time to write, cast, and produce a pilot episode. The executive who had championed the show was himself fired before it ever aired. One of the two creators all but quit the moment the pilot was finished. Nearly every creative decision at the start of the show was made under the assumption that it would never succeed. Everyone believed it was too weird, too dense, too unusual to work. And it may have been. But it worked, anyway. […]

This behind the scenes stuff is quite interesting, but in the end what counts is what ended up on screen. The procession of shows that have tried and failed to catch a little of Lost's magic over the last few years serves as a testament to just how right Messrs Abrams, Lindelof, Cuse and their cast got it. It might be best if everyone laid off trying to imitate Lost for a decade or so.

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