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.
July 25th, 2011
[Via The Medium Is Not Enough]
February 15th, 2011
I wonder whether anyone has brought this Craigslist post to the attention of Messrs Abrams and Lindelof:
Obviously this is a one-time deal. My offer is that I will buy you breakfast (anywhere you want) in exchange for an hour of your time and intimate knowledge of the TV series Lost. First, a bit of background: 1) I HAVE seen every episode of Lost, repeat I HAVE watched the entire series. I just can't tie it all together 2) I'm not a complete idiot 3) But I'm not a Mensa member either. Also, you're probably asking yourself, "Why don't you just look the information on the 'ol World Wide Web?" Well, I have a series of questions that aren't really answered by specific web posting(s). And while one posting might answer one question it can, at times, contradict another answer I thought I had nailed down. So I want to be able to ask follow up questions, in real time, as they arise. My main confusion (read: frustration) is the last season's crescendo of disappointment that climaxes with the last episode. I want to move on with my life; I need a healthy relationship with a new TV series, but I have baggage I need to check. This will be as cathartic as it is educational for me. That is also why it is of absolute importance that this happen with a stranger. I don't want to be reminded of this experience every time I see someone I know; it needs to be a clean break. What I need from you is a healthy and macroscopic understanding of the Lost universe along with grasp on tertiary plots/character arcs/unexplained island phenomena, a sympathetic attitude that understands why I might feel incomplete with the Lost anthology and a workman like attitude in tandem with razor sharp analytical skills.
The bottom line here is I basically need a therapeutic closing as it has been months and I can't shake this feeling that I've been given the business by this show. Also, yes, it must be breakfast as I am a morning person and my mind works best between my first and second cups of coffee. It is paramount that my mental agility be at its apex for this exercise. [...]
I'd deliberately avoided all online discussion of the show during and after season 6 and fled any offline discussions that started up within earshot, so I came to season 6 with nothing more than a vague awareness that a lot of fans really, really hated the way the story ended.
Having seen the finale, one one level I can understand why some viewers felt cheated that we never got a proper explanation of why and how the island worked. On the other hand, as I stopped expecting anything of the sort some time ago I can't get too worked up about the omission. People appeared to come back from the dead. The island was home to a smoke monster. From time to time the island changed location. There was a wheel you could turn that would transport you to a spot in the Tunisian desert. Did anyone watch as far as season 6 and still seriously expect that the writers were going to come up with a coherent explanation for all that? It was a magic island. Accept it.
My take on the final season is that, having followed these characters for this long I simply wanted to see what would happen to them and trusted the writers to give me an enjoyable ride along the way. I think they succeeded admirably with the finale. Pretty much every time two characters 'connected'2 and remembered their shared history brought a lump to my throat. Eloise's concern that Desmond was going to take her son was immensely touching, not least given how much guilt she must have felt at what she did to him back on the island in 1977. Desmond-on-the-island's bewilderment that he hadn't been transported back to Penny. Jack's comment about disrespecting the memory of John Locke. Ben pushing Hurley out of the path of a falling tree. All immensely satisfying moments for anyone who has been following these characters since 2004.
I could nitpick all sorts of issues about the way the show ended3 but emotionally they got it right, from Doctor Linus making sure Alex got her letter of recommendation to Yale, to Hurley's fate, to Vincent lying down next to Jack at the end. Great moments, every one.
Lost isn't the best TV show ever made, but for my money it was clearly one of the 'event' programmes of the last decade. Perhaps after a few more years of seeing shows like FlashForward and The Event try and fail to pull off a similar trick we'll come to appreciate just how good Lost was.
[Via The Awl]
- As the show isn't on free-to-air TV and I refuse to sign up to a subscription service, I've been following seasons 3-6 on DVD. I wasn't prepared to pay the full price for the season 6 box set when it was released last August, so I've been waiting for the price to come down in the sales and finally picked up a copy a week ago. ↩
- Especially Sawyer and Juliet, and Jin and Sun. Charlie and Claire. Sayid and Shannon. Even Daniel and Charlotte's kinda-sorta connection. OK, so I'm a sap. ↩
- Why was baby Aaron with Claire in the church at the end? Kate's shoulder injury healed really fast when she and Sawyer had to jump off a cliff and swim out to a boat, didn't it? Didn't the smoke monster realise that he'd be mortal again once the plug was pulled, and what did that imply for his ability to wreak terrible acts of vengeance upon leaving the island? How did Allison Janney's character know how the island worked: did someone tell her? Was she an earlier protector of the island who went mad through a lack of human interaction once the smoke monster was trapped in that cave? Did she have her own Jacob-equivalent whispering in her ear? ↩
September 20th, 2010
John Locke and Ben Linus, reunited:
Forget Rizzoli & Isles: Are you ready for Linus & Locke? In news that could cause the Lost fan base to have a synchronized aneurysm, Vulture hears that last week, J.J. Abrams and frequent collaborators Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (Alias, Mission: Impossible 4) began pitching a comedic drama to the networks that would have Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn – a.k.a. Benjamin Linus and John Locke/Smokey – playing former black-ops agents.
I trust that at least one episode every season will involve Michael Emerson's character being tied to a chair in a darkened room and yet still somehow manipulating Terry O'Quinn into doing his bidding.
[Via AV Club]
May 29th, 2010
- NB: contains spoilers for anyone who hasn't seen as far as season 3. ↩
February 5th, 2010
At any rate, as of late in season 3 he is.
As I predicted, having started watching the last third of season 3 again I've ended up buying the season 4 box set. I realise that I'm still lagging way behind everyone who has been watching the show on TV all this time, but I'm hoping that by the time I make it to the end of season 4, the season 5 box set might be available at a reasonable price.1
- Or I'll have turned into a rabid Lost fan, desperate enough to buy season 5 – and possibly even season 6 – whatever the price. Time will tell. ↩
January 30th, 2010
In anticipation of the final season of Lost, Anna Pickard decided it was long past time for her to acquaint herself with the show. Here's what she learnt in episode 1:
- There are very good reasons one should never stand in from of a moving jet engine. It sucks.
- If your best way of identifying yourself to other people is by popping out a couple of lines of squeaky falsetto, you might want to start considering the benefits of anonimity.
- If the amateur stitching your wound is threatening to vomit in the gash, do not seek to reassure them by telling them a story about someones guts pouring onto the floor. It is not wise.
- If your beach holiday brochure promises untouched beaches and exotic far-off peacefulness, always ALWAYS check the small print for monsters.
- Hot jack, Doctor of Medicine, likes his booze.
- Charlie, inadvisable male soprano of Manchester, appears to like his smack.
- So far then, I think there are eleven recognisable characters, though there were more random screamers who may soon turn into beloved friends, and probably will: I recognised many of them from the articles Iâ€™ve tried not to read over the years.
I've only seen up to about three-quarters of the way through season 3. I saw the first two seasons on terrestrial TV, then swore off the show when Sky bought the exclusive UK rights only to pick up the season 3 DVD box some time well after its release. I stopped working my way through the episodes quite some time ago, when I got distracted by the need to keep up with some show that was in its first run on terrestrial TV. Once I had some time in my TV-viewing schedule again, I was acutely aware that if I did start watching Lost again I'd end up wanting to watch season 4 right afterward. At that time, the season 4 box set was still (IMHO) quite expensive, and with a full DVR I really couldn't justify the expense1 so I let it lie.
We'll see if following these belated episode reviews rekindles my enthusiasm for picking up season 4.
[Via Anil Dash]
- I still can't, quite. ↩
April 9th, 2008
Matthew Baldwin has discovered the perverse appeal of Lost:
The Queen and I are halfway through season three of Lost and goddamn I love this show.
It's hard for me to admit because Lost is popular, and it's crucial to my self-image that I only enjoy television shows that hobble along for a season or three, unappreciated by the unwashed masses, before getting unceremoniously axed. Freaks & Geeks, Arrested Development, Firefly, and so forth. (We are going to conveniently ignore that I also liked The Sopranos, and that I laugh until my stomach hurts every time I stumble across AFHV …) And yet here I am, a Lost junkie, just like half of America.
Intellectually I recognize that the third season has all of the same problems of the first two: it shows us the trees, so to speak, and willfully ignores the forest. In other words, the creators of Lost have inverted the traditional mystery formula by making the clues themselves the focus of the show, instead of using them as an means to a end (the end being the solution of the central mystery). [...]
I dropped Lost at the end of season 2, partly because it was looking as if the writers were succumbing to the X-Files problem of having spun a web of clues without knowing how to string them together, but mostly because the UK broadcast rights to the show were bought by Sky TV. I saw a few stories about season 3's plot developments, but I wasn't tempted. It helped that last year brought a couple of new imported shows to enthuse over1.
A couple of weeks ago I spotted the season 3 DVD box set going for Â£35 and on a whim I decided that it was worth a look at that price. Eight episodes in two days later and I was hooked all over again. Upon reflection I could have done without spending quite so much time with the Others in those first half dozen episodes, but it didn't feel like a problem as I was watching them.2
I haven't had the chance to repeat that marathon DVD-viewing session and make my way towards the end of season 3, but I think it's safe to say that I will, and soon. It's also safe to say that I'm going to end up following the remainder of the show's run on DVD unless the writers do something egregiously stupid.3
- Namely Friday Night Lights and Heroes. ↩
- I think it probably helped to see them is rapid succession. I can imagine that if I'd had to wait a week between episodes only to find that Sawyer and Kate were still breaking rocks and Jack was still sitting in that cell being uncooperative, all while who knew what was going on with the rest of the survivors back on the beach, I'd have been a bit peeved with the writers. ↩
- Come 2010, once the writers have shown us where they were going with all these mysterious phenomena, I suspect that there will be a lot of people watching the show's entire run from start to finish to see all the clues we missed. Either that, or the production company's offices will be burned to the ground and the writers lynched by an angry mob of Lost fanatics who can't believe they led us a merry dance and blew it with a lame final reveal. ↩