Hollywood Mysteries: “Lost”. Are you %#$&ing Kidding Me?

Oh…. Boy.

Here we go.

Welcome back to Hollywood Mysteries. My essay series where I blow steam about things in Hollywood that confuse me to no end, and probably in all likelihood, piss me off. 

Case in point? “LOST”

This series will run all this week, looking back over the entire run of the series. But don’t worry, I’ve had this in the can for awhile. So those of you who aren’t fans of the show won’t “miss” anything, I’ll still be posting up the exact same content this week I would have, Just with this getting posted up as well.

Now, prior to even launching this, I’m going to give two big warnings before you dive in:

1) Spoilers from this point forward. “LOST” was a show that to a major extent revolved around mystery and the unknown. If you click past the “Continue Reading”s on each post, I’m going to assume you’ve either seen “LOST”, or don’t care to, but want to know what the deal is. Because I will be discussing the series in detail.

2) I like to encourage discussion on this site. I am honestly hoping to build a place where I can post something up about movies and tv and then people can post their thoughts. But on this particular subject, I’m just telling everyone. Even a year later, I am still furious. I am “a racecar in the red”. So since “LOST” fans are split into two camps – those that like and accept the end of the show, and those who feel ripped off… I’m just going to put out the warning. If you want to counterpoint, if you’re one of these happy dappy Cuse/Lindelof sycophants, come big or not at all. Because “I am Superfly TNT, I’m the Guns of the Navarone.”

Let’s get started.

“LOST” was a serialized drama which premiered on ABC in 2004 and ran for 6 seasons.

Created by famed creator (and director) JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof, the show revolved around the crash of a jet airliner on a deserted island. It doesn’t take long for the cast aways to realize that the Island is unusual in several ways… full of mysteries.

The premiere was reportedly the most expensive pilot in ABC’s history. In order to show authentic plane wreckage, the production team actually purchased a jet airliner, transported it to Hawaii (where the tv show was shot) and disassembled it. The show also sported an enormous ensemble cast, with 14 regular cast members in season 1 and a host of minor characters.

Yup. It was as expensive as it looks.

The Cast was one of the strengths of “LOST” throughout its run. Reportedly, the casting process was unique in that, rather than writing a role and finding an actor to fill it, the producers found actors they liked, then wrote roles to best suit their personalities. It worked. If the actors weren’t tv stars already (Matthew Fox), they would be soon (Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway). Dominic Monaghan was on board, fresh off of his stint in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Yunjim Kim was an enormous movie star in Korea prior to her participation here. And Terry O’Quinn, long one of Hollywood’s “That Guy”s finally found the role he was born to play.

The talent of the cast was met by the quality of the material. Each of these characters, you see, was given a thorough back story. Of course, at first you didn’t know what that story was.

This was one of the devices which made “LOST” so fascinating. Each episode contained two unique stories. The first revolved around what was happening on the Island, in the present, and the second was a flashback revealing who these characters were and what they did prior to the plane crashing. It was a brilliant concept, and they executed it well. Each of the characters had some sort of mystery, some uniqueness… A drug addict, a con man, a bank robber, an adulteress, etc… and their stories were slowly revealed to you as the show went on.

Whoooo are you? Who, who? Who, who?

And the interaction of these stranded characters was excellent as well. Romances and rivalries formed. Power struggles ensued. Trust was forged, but so was mis-trust.

But the big star of the show was “The Island”.

The conceit of the show was that this island was not any ordinary island, but an island of unique properties and wonderous phenomena. It had some sort of healing properties. It gave people visions of the dead. Even though it was a tropical island, it was inhabited by polar bears. Deep in the jungle, far away from the beach, was a washed up slave ship. And in the middle of the island, hidden in the jungle, was a metal hatch. To where? To what? They weren’t gonna tell. At least not at first.  

But in addition to hosting intriguing mysteries, the island was also a place of untold dangers. It was home to a strange creature, unshown until the end of season one, that blew around the island in the form of a cloud of smoke. It made outrageously frightening noises, like the clicking of a roller coaster going up combined with the roar of a tyrannosaurus. When it grabbed people it would fling them around, or drop them from great heights, usually resulting in their death.

May not look like much, but trust me, you did not want to piss this thing off.

And the island, it turns out, was not uninhabited after all. There were a group of people living on the Island that the crash survivors called “The Others”. “The Others” were first revealed when one of them kidnapped a couple of survivors because the female survivor was pregnant. He was almost killed, and eventually she returned, walking in a daze from the jungle… but it was creepy nonetheless.

All of this weirdness, this mystery, these questions… led to a unique television experience. It was not only a top 20 show, it was a hotly discussed show, a debated show. People would speculate and post theories on the internet. They’d buzz and talk at work and email each other. What WAS the Monster? Who WERE the Others? Why did they want the pregnant woman? What’s in the hatch? How did the Polar Bears get there? Why are people having visions and seeing dead people? How does the island heal people?

Lost was FULL of mysteries to ponder.

It seemed as though there were thousands of questions.

But that was ok. From the get go, the people behind the show (With Carlton Cuse replacing JJ Abrams now) insisted they knew where the show was going. They had a show “Bible” with a broad outline that would take them through to the series end. They knew the answers to the questions the show was posing. This was not going to end and leave us hanging.

So I was in. I was in in a big way.

And I wasn’t alone. “LOST” won the Emmy for best drama in its first season – a practically unheard of occurrence. And Abrams won an Emmy for best directing (the pilot) It was nominated for and won a bunch of other different entertainment awards and landed on about 1,000,000 year’s top ten lists. Even though it’s tied in my mind to the rest of the series, I still have to recognize that “LOST” Season 1 is one of the greatest individual television seasons of all time.

The cast of “LOST” had a lot of reasons to celebrate in 2005. The show won 6 Emmys that night. Especially impressive for a rookie show.

But somewhere, deep down, I knew. At that point, I was so high on the show that it was coming out with the wrong emphasis, but I knew.

You see? When I’d talk to people about “LOST” even then, right from Season 1, I would say “If this show sticks the landing, it’s going to be the greatest show of all time.” With a little inversion, that’s not from off from saying “In order to be one of the greatest shows of all time, this show needs to stick the landing.”

What I should have been worried about was how I’d view it if the show BOTCHED the landing.

Cause it did.

I continue on with “‘LOST’, Are you %#$&ing Kidding Me? Pt 2″ HERE.

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14 thoughts on “Hollywood Mysteries: “Lost”. Are you %#$&ing Kidding Me?

    • Well, cool. Maybe I’ll have one person that reads it then. LOL.

      The journey WAS engrossing. Season 1 and the end of S3 were phenomenal!

      But the way they “wrapped it up” was a crime. Not the finale in particular, that was a fine couple of hours of tv, but leaving us hanging on so much, and then some of the “answers” we DID get were ludicrous…

      We’ll get there, we’ll get there. For today, I’ll just say Season One was incredible :D

      • I guess it depends on your expectations. By Season Four, I think I understood that “Lost” has become essentially a long-form character study. The plot, at least to me, had become more-or-less inconsequential. I was watching for the characters, and the mythology started becoming less and less appealing.

        So by Season Six, I guess I knew intuatively that the mythology had gone off the rails, but I was so invested in the characters that I didn’t much care. And I’m not even going to try to pretend that’s any kind of “defense” of Carlton/Cuse, but I don’t think they betrayed the audience quite as bad as some people think.

      • Ohh. My sympathies.

        I’m going to hold off on “Getting into it” too much right now, hopefully I won’t lose you between now and then…

        But Thursday is probably the post that is best suited for point counterpoint on this topic.

        Looking forward to sparring with you again actually. On movies we seem to see much mire eye to eye than we did on comics LOL. :D

        And yeah. X-Files. Eesh. That was ugly by the end.

  1. I purposefully stayed away from “Lost” even amidst all the hype and praise. I knew there were great characters, solid plots, and big, intriguing mysteries. And so I stayed away. That may sound strange, but I’d been down that route more than once before. I was certain that it wouldn’t “stick the landing” as you put it. Seen it too many times.

    I have become convinced that shows with big mysteries at the heart of their mythology cannot work with a standard TV series setup. They need to be meticulously planned — not just broad strokes, but fine-lined details — from the beginning to the very end, or it will go wrong. And everybody involved has to be on board with just how long it’s going to be, from the writers to the actors to, most importantly, the network. If it gets cancelled before the writers plan to end it, you’re left with an incomplete series. So too often the writers don’t really plan an ending — or they have that planned but they don’t have the middle of the story planned, which will result in plot-manglings that are every bit as stupid. They write so that they can indefinitely extend the “mystery” season after season until they’re ready to end it. But mysteries are only interesting for as long as it seems like you have some reasonable chance of figuring it out. Once it becomes apparent that the writers are either winging it or throwing out red herrings solely for the purpose of padding the run time, the mystery loses its appeal. And the longer the mystery takes to resolve, the greater the chances of this happening, as well as the greater the chances that whatever the writers come up with will be unsatisfying.

    Maybe I’m being unfair to “Lost”, since I didn’t watch it. But it was what I anticipated from it, and it’s what I’ve heard about its eventual ending. Had the writers and network had the courage to aim for a (possibly long) single-season show instead of trying for a multiple-year runner, they might well have gone down in history as having one of the greatest shows. But like so many before them, they sacrificed the integrity of the story for the sake of further seasons of advertising dollars.

    • Oh. There was some “stretching it out” involved, no doubt.

      But that was one of the things, Morgan. They SAID they had planned this out… That they had the whole thing mapped from A-Z.

      In the end, I prefer to think they did, but copped out on where they originally planned on going. Because I cant believe they had THIS in mind all along.

      Youre right, I think such a show needs to be meticulously planned out, and have a set number of episodes, etc… I think it can be done. Especially on say, a premium channel.

      Fair warning… Since you say you’ve never seen it. DEFINITE spoilers ahead.

      • Oh, don’t worry about spoilers. I don’t intend to watch it, at least not soon enough that the spoilers would be remembered. Plenty of other shows to retro-actively catch up on, after all.

  2. I loved this show. I hated this show. I’d say I fall squarely between you and k2 on what I got vs. what I wanted to get out of it. We’ll probably see where I land as the week goes on.

    I can tell you exactly the moment I first hated the show, though. Survivor A and B (Nikki and Paolo, I think. I’m *refuse* to open a new tab and look them up. If I’m wrong so be it). So goddamn generic time padding. They tried their damnedest to make them work, and almost succeeded. And it was them that made me realize, I think, that the “landing wouldn’t stick”.

    • You hate opening tabs, huh? Lol

      Yeah it was Nikki and Paulo. I hated them too. I think everyone did.

      But I held out hope right to the end man.

      I think we’ll have some fun this week kicking this thing around then, I’m interested to hear what you guys think on specific points coming up.

  3. I, too, am furious.
    Abrams, et al, stated that they knew how the story would end all along – AFTER they wussed out with a “deus ex machina” ending. This allowed the writers to go mad with imagination, possibly drug induced when you think about it. “We never have to explain it, so who cares?”
    The term chickenshit comes to mind.
    The wonderful rollercoaster paused at the precipice, promising a stomach-flipping plunge. Delicious anticipation, then — pfftt.
    Lost defrauded its viewers.

    • “Chickenshit” LOL, that’s a good one.

      Well, I definitely hope you stay with us for this then. I think in tomorrow’s post I start to turn up the “bashing” dial. Season 4 was where I really started to feel like we weren’t in good hands.

      But yeah, I feel your pain Roz. I definitely do.

  4. Lost described as a character show!? Give me a fucking break. Maybe you could say that for the first 3 or 4 seasons, but in the last few years it was all about the supposed “mythology”. I hated the ending because it didn’t offer a decent conclusion for the mystery that had been set up and, more importantly, because I despised how the characters’ stories ended. The afterlife with these characters not being themselves, the choice of soulmates (as if the idea of soulmates wasn’t bad as it is), those leaving the island not getting any kind of relevance…

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