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Monday, December 3, 2012

36

The Story of "Lost"

"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."
Grantland has a Lost making-of extravaganza that should hold your interest even if you quit after the second season and picked up the hazy idea the island was purgatory, or something, from the general culture. (It wrapped like twenty years ago, spoiler alerts do not apply.)



36 Comments / Post A Comment

nonvolleyball

this is the very definition of Relevant to My Interests. I shall use it as a reward for writing this stupid thing I wanted to have finished 10 minutes ago.

frigwiggin

I've never seen a single episode of Lost, and all I know about it is what I've absorbed through the internet and general culture. But after that, I kind of want to watch it! (Have to finish Dollhouse first, though.)

fondue with cheddar

@frigwiggin It's really good, just know that the ending will probably be disappointing. If you don't think that will ruin it for you, then I highly recommend it.

runlolorun

@frigwiggin The same can be said for Dollhouse, but I totally loved both shows all the way through. Although in Dollhouse's defense, they had to wrap it up way sooner than anticipated, and really any closure was kind of impressive. Plus I don't think there's ever been a show I've been in love with where I didn't find the ending to be a letdown (I'm always just sad that it's over).

nonvolleyball

@fondue with cheddar I also feel like sometimes the "disappointing ending" is less disappointing if you're prepared for it. I actually didn't mind the way Lost ended (see below), but I also knew people who were FURIOUS about the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica, & while I think there's some well-justified criticism there, their rage didn't make as much sense to me when I watched it after the fact.

fondue with cheddar

@nonvolleyball True. I actually did like the ending of Lost, I just disliked the fact that they didn't address a lot of other aspects of the show.

every tomorrow@twitter

@nonvolleyball My beef with the end of BSG was that it didn't answer any of the questions I was really interested in. My beef got worse when the producers were like, oh, yeah, that thing people obsessed over for 8 months? That was a total throwaway and we were never planning on wrapping up that thread.

e.g. I really wanted to know what Daniel's deal was. They did a bunch of OOO DANIEL IS IMPORTANT foreshadowing and then.... never brought him up again.

Being prepared doesn't help me, though. I had like 2 weeks of the entire internet bawling about how much the end of Mass Effect sucked and I still flipped my shit when I beat the game and discovered that the ending's shittiness was as advertised.

teaandcakeordeath

This is controversial but I liked lost. And most people liked the beginning. Unfortunately in 6 years, no one thought up an end.

meetapossum

@teaandcakeordeath Really, the worst part for me was how the writers kept saying that they knew how it was going to end and where it was going. The ending did not reflect that AT ALL. "Sorry, everything you ever cared about during this show was just a MacGuffin!" Grr, Lost.

fondue with cheddar

@teaandcakeordeath Yeah, I loved the show but it just left too many loose ends. I liked how they ended it, there just needed to be MORE.

Also, I just made a comment about Sayid and Desmond half an hour ago, before seeing this post!

nonvolleyball

@teaandcakeordeath honestly, I can't even be mad at the end--because, as much as I understand that it was "unsatisfying" for some, I always felt that the ability to debate various plausibilities & interpretations was one of the best parts about watching it, & I appreciated that the lack of "real answers" allows those conversations to continue.

Smallison

@meetapossum Yeah! What really drove me nuts is that the writers encouraged people to care about all the details, down to the tiniest minutiae (what book was being read, what song was playing, etc.). When everyone was pissed that they didn't wrap ANY of that up, they were like, 'It's a character-driven show! We've stressed that from the beginning!' I'm sure. That's why there was a weekly Entertainment Weekly column detailing all of the sideplots and obscure details


Sigh. I might still have some pent up emotions about this.

meetapossum

@Smallison Don't even get me started about Walt.

nonvolleyball

@meetapossum WAAAAAAAAAAAALT!!!

(sorry; I read a lot of AVClub.)

meetapossum

@nonvolleyball I STILL want to know more about Walt's powers.

Maybe I just liked the magical/sci-fi aspects of the show more than I liked some of the characters. I did like learning about Smokey and Jacob and Richard at the end, but the ending just completely flopped for me. Shannon and Boone, I just don't care about you at all.

Plus, can we remember Paulo and Nicci and how pointless that stupid episode was? Or how Mr. Eko was one of the most interesting characters but was never mentioned again?

Springtime for Voldemort

@Smallison THIS. I get that no ending could really have possibly been quite as epic as I was hoping, but they way they handled it was just very "what do you mean you want to know about the Numbers and the Dharma Initiative and what's up with the smoke monster and the stations and the time travel? Focus on the characters, not on the stuff we focused on!". And then even the character stuff was very disappointing. Especially Claire - they were just like "oh, and here's Claire again!". The end themes directly contradicted the themes throughout the rest of the entire story. They actively curated a cult-like, nitpicking, obsessive fandom and then acted like it was ER. And honestly, the end was so bad it ruined it for me, because the whole point of watching and then getting on Lostpedia right after was for the ending. It wasn't like so many other dramas, where there's still all this stuff that's tight and resolved even if the ending sucks. Lost was all about the ending.

Smallison

@Springtime for Voldemort thank you! I've been saying this for years! It's not that I think that a character-driven would've been bad, but that was clearly not what they were going for in the rest of the show. Plus, after the audience figured out that the island was purgatory, the writers were like, "haha! We got you! The island stuff was real! Purgatory was what was happening OFF the island!" Ummm...ok. I guess I don't have a problem with that, but it just feels like they got pissed that everyone figured out their story, so they switched it right at the end.

Springtime for Voldemort

@Smallison Yeah, it didn't make any sense. The island wasn't purgatory, but then it was, and then also off island was purgatory, and then that church room at the very end was also purgatory... Does purgatory have levels? Like, First Purgatory, Second Purgatory, Short Stop Purgatory?

etheline.

Funny they mention how the pilot was scripted in a fraction of the usual time. I re-watched it this weekend, and the dialogue was not nearly as sharp as I remembered. Still a favourite, though. In fact, one of my worst breakup casualties was a Dharma Initiative tshirt I can no longer bring myself to wear.

Valley Girl

Confession: If you say that you quit LOST because it got too complicated or that they never answered anything at the end, we can still be buddies but I will always secretly question your judgement just a little bit.

etheline.

@Valley Girl THIS. I loved it all the way through, and it annoys me when people say they only watched the first two seasons. How can you abandon something like that?! I loved that show, and even cried at the finale (although I still don't but the idea of Shannon as being Sayid's true love).

meetapossum

@etheline. Ugh, right? Nadia was OBVIOUSLY his true love.

stonefruit

@Valley Girl What if we quit Lost because we loved the first season but the first 2-4 episodes of season 2 were so soap-opera-y that we just had to roll our eyes?

meetapossum

@stonefruit WE HAVE TO GO BAAAAAAAACK!!

aubrey!

@Valley Girl Agreed. It was a big mess of a show and it didn't always make sense, but I loved it.

@stonefruit Are you talking about the whole Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle? Because ugh, that plotline.

Springtime for Voldemort

@stonefruit Season 2 was bad. It was sooo bad. It was their "we don't know when this is going to end, so we're stalling like mad" season. Once they knew when it was going to end, it got so much better.

every tomorrow@twitter

@Valley Girl I loved Lost but I also want to punch the last episode in the face.

Actually I have felt this way about basically every entertainment property I have loved in the last 5 or so years and I am currently so scared of that I am afraid of getting into new TV shows. I loved Battlestar Galactica but the ending was awful the same way the ending of Lost was awful -- it pulled the "Oh, all those subplots you cared about? FUCK THOSE!" trick. So did Mass Effect, over in video game land.

I feel like the problem is that people make TV shows without knowing how long they're going to be or HOW THEY ARE GOING TO END, and they change the plot based on viewer response, e.g. in BSG Helo was originally a throwaway character who was supposed to die in the first season, but fans liked him so they kept him, and he ended up being a major character. There were TONS of decisions like that, which make it clear that at the beginning of the show, they had no idea what was going to happen at the end of the show.

I feel like if you're going to make a TV show that complicated and tease people with all those crazy complicated mysteries, it's important that you actually know where you're going. Mysteries are only interesting if they are potentially figure-out-able, and for that to happen, your world has to be internally consistent. You cannot have an internally consistent world when you have no idea how any of this even works and are making it up as you go.

Also on a totally different topic I hated Jack and Kate and I wanted both of them to get eaten by bears.

every tomorrow@twitter

@every tomorrow@twitter ...okay clearly I am still not over that because I just wrote a goddamn essay about Why Lost Pisses Me Off.

Springtime for Voldemort

@every tomorrow@twitter This is why I refuse to watch BSG, no matter how many people tell me it's amazing. I know it will just end in heartache.

stonefruit

@aubrey! That is precisely the plotline I was referring to. It was so completely awful and over-the-top and I just couldn't - I decided my time/attention was better directed elsewhere.

meetapossum

@every tomorrow@twitter In the article they talk about how originally Jack died in the pilot episode. HOW I WISH HE HAD.

stuffisthings

Fun fact: the working title for Lost when it was in development was Hurley Dies.

redheaded&crazy

Season 6 of lost is the only season I haven't seen. I even have the season on DVD! It's sitting right there in the corner of my room. But ... ugh.

Springtime for Voldemort

@redheaded&crazie May I suggest keeping in that way? Because I would honestly love to go back to that place of trepid anticipation, not quite sure what the final season held in store for me but pretty sure it was going to be awesome...

Amy Chambers@twitter

Watch Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes instead! Similar sort of alternate world, with morals and allusions to everything from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Alice in Wonderland, and explosions and a**kicking and mystery, but one of the most satisfying conclusions/best soundtracks to any series ever. Honestly cannot recommend it enough for fans of trepid anticipation @redheaded&crazie

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