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"Oh my god. You teach ethics?"
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January 15 2007

Lost producer invokes Whedon. Carlton Cuse tells a Joss anecdote when talking about the trickiness of expectations for shows like Lost.

I think the comparison is completely disingenuous. When people discussed the merits of each season of Buffy, it mostly came down to personal preference - they liked the show when it was in high school; they prefered a more dense over-arcing plot; they loved that the show would go to such a dark place.

Whereas Lost continues to trade on the continual teasing out of plots and its insistence of never providing any concrete answers - and spending most of the series in flashback mode, which is antithetical to real drama. Where Joss knew that you have to provide answers some time... and didn't drag questions out for years at a time.

And apart from the vampire characters, I barely remember a flashback for one of the main characters in all of Buffy!
Whereas Lost continues to trade on the continual teasing out of plots and its insistence of never providing any concrete answers - and spending most of the series in flashback mode, which is antithetical to real drama. Where Joss knew that you have to provide answers some time... and didn't drag questions out for years at a time.

Lost is a mystery show. If they give concrete answers now, the show is over. To compare it to Buffy in that sense is also "completely disingenuous".
The problem is they have no answers. :)
Well if they really don't have anything in the vault then they just need to spend about 5 minutes on the fan boards and they'll have more than enough material to cobble together a coherent solution ;)
Out of interest, does anyone know where and when Joss said that comment?
An interesting read is in today's New York Times, from JJ ABrams about the fate of Lost. They are now claiming that they will bring the series to an end at around 100 episodes, or 5 seasons. They do not want to continue it with different stars, or allow it to become an X-Files show that ended past its prime. Now, I read this as a response to the criticism and drop in viewership that Lost has suffered. There is truth to the fact that after 2.4 seasons they have answered very little about anything, have brought on an entire season's worth of new people only to kill them all off in short order, and have split viewrship over too long a time due to a 3-month hiatus, losing interest along the way. I see Abrams comments as (1) an indication he actually learned something from Alias, and (2) a bow to the reality that if he does not have a finite end point everyone will simply give up since they will feel, with justification, that the show will never answer anything for them.

Sure, some people like this, but I would guess that most Americans don't. I watched the premiere of 24 last night- never saw it before. But it was all thrils and no intelligence at all. If you gave a moment's thought to anything you saw, you'd give up- done read past this if you don't wish to be spoiled, but I want to make the point (And I am sorry that I do not know how to apply a spoiler tag), since Joss would never make any of these mistakes ever:


Stupid things:


[ edited by zeitgeist -I added the spoiler span class, please see the ABOUT page for info on how to do so or hit edit to see what I did. Also, point seven is a bit inflammatory - on 2007-01-15 16:23 ]
Out of interest, does anyone know where and when Joss said that comment?



Where's QuoterGal when we need her? I wonder if in fact it was just during a private conversation?
But in any case, it is a curious comment. I wonder if it was more along the lines of "Every year we are expected to top the previous year"? Although I guess there was perceived problems with each season, I don't know that anyone said it had worsened, just that they liked the previous season better, as crossoverman says. Well, until Season 5!
Dana, Cuse and Lindelof have been talking about not wanting the show to go for more than 5 seasons since at least the start of season 2. That's not a new claim.

[ edited by Shaggy on 2007-01-15 16:24 ]
And at the very least Cuse claims to know *exactly* where everything is going. And he did Brisco County Jr., so 'nuff said.
I wonder if in fact it was just during a private conversation?


It was from a conversation with Joss. There's a slightly different version of Cuse's remarks in the Chicago Tribune (spoilers for Lost in the link).

On the inevitable backlash: “Joss Whedon said something very funny when he and I were talking. He basically said, the critics and the fans always hate the season that you’re in, and wish that it was like the season that preceded it. And it’s true. The reality is, when we were in Season 2, everybody hated it, everybody hated Michelle Rodriguez, hated the tail section stories. Now we find ourselves in Season 3, and everybody’s hating it, and they wish it was more like Season 2.”

Actually Shaggy, I distinctly remember someone (a cast member I think) being quoted as saying that Abrams/Lindelof had an eight year arc in mind (this was around the end of season 1). That was one of the reasons I stopped watching (though I do intend to get back into it when I can find the time, it's too good to be completely abandoned yet IMO) since the format just will not support that long a run, in fact, to me, even 5 seasons is still really pushing it.

But in any case, it is a curious comment.

I think this is just a problem with quoting people's normal speech (listen to an actual conversation you've recorded and you'll probably find it doesn't make a whole lot of sense with all the ums, ahs, doubling back on sentences, leaving phrases unfinished etc.).

(not to split hairs though but surely saying "I liked last season more" is awfully close to/the same as saying "Last season was better [implicit IMO]" which necessarily means this season isn't as good or 'has worsened' ?)
Simon: I was at the TCAs yesterday, and Cuse and Lindelof said this was from a personal conversation they had with Joss - I have a million issues with Lost, but their point was that if you have a popular show, Joss was saying (and they agree) that you're constantly hearing that the season you currently are doing isn't as good as the previous one. Though obviously the implication is that maybe later, looking back, those fans form a different opinion.
I've been catching up on Succubus Club interviews and in at least one of the interviews the writer(s) point out that every year the fans hated the direction the show was going and wanted it to be more like the year before. That was my immediate take on this quote, that they were not talking about looking back when the show was over, but while it was going on. In the case of BtVS, I could absolutely see people not liking the direction S3 was going after S2 and S4 was going after S3 etc...which is pretty much what the writer(s) said had happened. (Ok. I'm no Quotergal, but I never claimed to be.)
This isn't the article I was refering to but At a Comic-Con in July Lindelof said they've got at least 4, possibly 5 seasons of story material planned out and that anything beyond that they would be just be milking it (or something to that effect). Here's the link: http://www.thefuselage.com/Threaded/showpost.php?p=1097129&postcount=1. Anything more than five would probably be too much.
The five-year plan has been mentioned almost from the very beginning. I've heard people claiming to know all kinds of other planned durations for the show from second-hand sources, but everytime I figured it was a reliable source, I've heard 5 years.

Dana5140:


I think I can recall Joss making a similar comment in an interview. In fact, I think he may have said it a few times, that sometimes there is a negative audience reaction to a certain season just because it's moving in a new direction or isn't the same as previous seasons. I definitely think he may have said that in reference to season four and possibly to season six of Buffy.

As for Lost, I haven't seen season three yet but I did like the first two. It's not a perfect show, but it's a lot better than many other shows so I have given it a chance. I do like the fact that there are so many mysteries that are slowly revealed, if at all, although I do admit that it can be frustrating in that respect. I think very few of the issues that have been resolved have been the ones we really wanted answered.

I think, bearing in mind the show is now in it's third season and the producers claim that they only want it to last five seasons, that they need to think very carefully about how to wrap up the story in the long-term and how they intend to satisfy the audience. I think they need to make a firm decision as to which questions will be answered and when, in order to make the third season and the two following it strong stories with a sense of climax rather than the disappointment we have so far endured because any type of closure on any issues is elusive at best.

I think that Abrams proved on Alias that it is entirely possible to sustain a show which is strongly based on plot and mysteries successfully. I have yet to see season five (although I have the DVD set waiting to be watched) but based on the first four seasons I think that Abrams has repeatedly introduced intriguing plots and characters, many of which are resolved in an episode or by the end of the season, but that a lot of stuff is still yet to be revealed.

I think that is the key to doing that type of show successfully, and I think that Alias has done it well. I for one am looking forward to the Rambaldi plot reaching a conclusion in the final season, something that has been a huge part of the show since the second episode. But along the way we had parts of that plot revealed and dealt with satisfyingly, such as The Telling machine.

I think Buffy and Angel were also both hugely successful in that respect, although both were less focused on big mysteries and plot points. But I admire that Lost has retained a strong focus on characterisation and I hope that they will be able to continue exploring these characters (whilst hopefully adding a few new ones without killing them all off by the end of the season) whilst slowly unravelling the mysteries of the island until the final episode builds to a strong conclusion.
I've heard people claiming to know all kinds of other planned durations for the show from second-hand sources, but everytime I figured it was a reliable source, I've heard 5 years.

Well, Harold 'Michael' Perrineau apparently thought different back at the start of the show but if the producers have since said no more than 5 years then that's a step (albeit too small IMO) in the right direction.

(I guess it's down to the individual whether he counts as reliable or not though)
I think this is one of those cases we may be reading more than was actually said (or meant). Just a thought.
Dana5140: As for number 2 on your list, that is actually possible. I know this because I have an ancestory who did it... not a fluffy-bunny type of story, but it does make delightful dinner conversation. =P

As for Lost, IMO there is no way a show can drop that many plot threads and metaphors while maintaining its original plan.
Well there was a mention of declining viewers for Lost - one way to avoid this is to not have stories that don't make sense. I tried to watch Lost, but I guess I watched the wrong episode because . Maybe I'll start Season one once I start hearing things of mysteries being resolved.

[ edited by Brisco on 2007-01-15 19:22 ]
I must be one of those exceptions as I thought season 2 of Lost was better than season 1.
I agree Simon. I loved the tail end stuff, and only regret that they didn't seem to go anywhere with it (yet). But I also loved Ana Lucia...so I guess there is no accounting for taste. :)
I also prefer season 2 to the first.
Zeitgist- thanks for setting the tags- I looked at your edit, but I suspect, computer luddite that I am, that I will still need to go to the ABOUT page- if I exactly do what you did, wouldn't I end up attributing that edit to you? :-)

I perhaps could have phrased #7 a bit different, but I do feel that the slant of the show is as I called it. And that is not based solely upon my 2 hours of total watching, but on a lot of crit lit I have read about it, as well as recent news articles about its direction. I did not make the comment to be inflammatory, apologies if read that way.

And yes, Cuse has been saying he'd limit the show for a long time, but my comments were directly related to the news story hitting the press today. It is repeated there.

I read everyone's comments here more as "What have you done lately?" That is, what you did was great- now, what can you do to be even better? Like, never rest on your laurels, simple as that.
Simon, must disagree this time. We can bitch in .org. Good to see the room talking again:)
I think the problem with audience expectations for "Lost" are that the audience thinks they are watching a mystery show, and think they need to have as many answers as soon as possible.

I have been listening to the official podcast by Cuse and Lindelof for some time, which I highly reccommend to anyone who enjoys the show. I get the impression from this that the creators are very aware of and struggle to walk the line between giving too much away and not revealing enough. But they also suggest that (and I strongly agree) that the show is really about the characters and their interactions, the mysteries of the island are a big part of the show but essentially secondary. For example in season 1 everyone was desparate to know what was in the hatch but what if it was just a device to explore the characters.

I'd guess that ratings might continue to decline since many will lose patience when they don't get answers quick enough, but I believe the show can be enjoyed far more if it is viewed primarily as a series of character studies with the mysteries acting only as gravy, not as the centre of the show.
Carlton Cuse and JJ did an interview with Stephen King. It's in last month's print edition of Entertainment Weekly. It's not online.

In it, JJ says business network stuff comes above creativity. Stephen King goes nuts, and he back tracks. It's a great read, as it's the only realistic explanation as to the show's format and problems with ABC that I've seen. JJ and Carlton go on record and say they will keep milking the show for as long as the network makes them, and sight the example that although Twin Peaks was great, it made no money because it failed to stay on the air for any length of time. They go on to say there is a battle over the shows heart between the show's producers and the network. There's also the example that ABC veto'ed an episode, making them rewrite it, as the net thought it gave an answer about the island. In it they say they are planning -- at the moment -- for 5 seasons plus a possible movie, however if it's still popular it can go on. From my personal point of view: there's absolutely no possible way a network would allow a show with 20 million viewers to be cancelled. So if it keeps it's audience for years, it will stay on the air. See also: The X-Files, which FOX kept on the air despite loosing all the talent, until nobody cared. They canned it.

I do agree that Lost is a character ensemble mystery drama. I don't agree the producers (or the network, I'm not sure) are handling it well. Here's my example: the mysterys. They keep adding more. And more. And more. Smoke! Big foot statue! Others! And then they add more. I spoke to my parents, friends and work mates about Lost, and every single one has stopped watching it. They said they missed a few episodes, and now have no idea what is going on, so they got frustrated, watched it less, then had absolutely no idea, then random big feet statues appeared, then they gave up.

BTVS's genius was taking a bunch of elements and exploring and explaining everything over the course of a season. They didn't dig themselves into story holes, because it was usually always a yearly thing. Imagine how brilliant season 3 of Lost could be if they went on to explain a load of things about The Island and exactly who the Others are, and then turned it on it's head in season 4 and layered on a new season of mystery for people to obsess about? They might do it. Hopefully. If the network let them.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-01-15 21:57 ]
While I didn't join BtVS online fandom until Season 3, I remember several people pointing out to the most vocal critics of that season that they had said the same thing (about the show going downhill and the previous season being better) during Season 2. So as much as most all of us agree that Season 2 was better than 1 nowadays, while it was still unfolding the opinion was mixed at best.

Myself, I vastly prefer the previous 7 seasons of BtVS and 5 seasons of Angel (and the months of sporadic showing of semi-random out-of-order episodes of Serenity) to the current TV seasons of those shows. This cancellation plotline they've had since 2003 and 2004 is getting old.
Paxomen: I'd agree with you if they weren't writing the episodes around the mysteries. And if the flashbacks were actually showing anything revealing about the characters anymore. Now, they just leave us on a cliffhanger (pretty much every episode) that's about the "mystery" of the island.
The thing is that people are assuming that they are adding more mysteries when in fact they are simply giving more detail to a single, already established mystery. Admittedly the casual television viewer may not get this but then it's not a show to watch casually. It never was.

Lost demands attention and, if possible, the interest to follow the non-television aspects as well, such as the brilliant Lost Experience. It's not a show that you can miss a couple of episodes and then expect to just jump back into. That is what procedural shows like Bones are for. Open and shut stories with little or no continuation to worry about. Which is exactly why I don't watch them.

Sure, Lost would no doubt have lost less fans if it made things simple to follow but then it wouldn't be anywhere near as good a show as it is. ABC aren't going to axe it as long as it holds on to a strong core fanbase and continues to sell well around the world so as long as that is the case then I say that they should tell the story that they want to tell and not worry about those that don't have the interest to watch every week.

Sorry if that sounds a little selfish, guys, but I'm really tired of hearing that shows need to dumb down and become less complicated to follow just to suit the needs of the larger audience. That's exactly what Angel did in the first half of it's fifth season and that was the one aspect of it's final year that I didn't like. As I said, shows like Lost aren't for the casual viewer and there are a lot of people that thrive on complex series that you need to watch every second of. I'm certainly one of those and I'd hate to see all television series being made to suit the masses, because then I really will sell the television.
Don't watch "Lost", but there is definitely a "back in the good old days of last season" syndrome that gets applied generally. I am old enough to remember when the film previously known as "Star Wars" premiered and everyone raved about it. And then "The Empire Strikes Back" arrived and all the talk was about how it didn't live up to the original. It lacked the imagination, the sense of wonder, it was too dark blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Then the Jedi returned and guess what - that episode failed to live up to "The Empire Strikes Back" which was now seen to have emotional depth (i.e. dark but in a good way), and was merely a re-enactment of the first film.

And now lo these too many to count years later and there is a whole new Star Wars series, and surprise, it doesn't come close to the original *trilogy* which was complete and whole and wondrous. Now, I'm not defending Lucas' artistic development. Any film that included the character Jar-Jar Binks should have been drowned at birth. But I find it interesting that each of the first two sequels received exactly the same initial response, and then that whole response was recapitulated for the trilogy as a whole once a new one came out. I suspect that if Lucas ever does make the sequel trilogy that was once promised, we'll suddenly discover scintillating creative depths to Episodes 1-3 that are unsuspected right now.
I love Lost. All seasons. I don't want answers because I love the not knowing and watching the struggle.

I adore 24 because it is over the top and ridiculous. It is absolutely the best comic book on television.

I adore the last seasons of both Buffy and Angel and found them to be much superior to the first few season of each show.

These threads always amuse me because my brain simply can't wrap around the problem that others perceive.
The thing about people liking the previous seasons of TV better than the current one is true. It's certainly true in Battlestar Galactica. Personally, I feel that S2 was better than S1, and that S3 is better than S2, but I doubt that many fans would agree with me right now. At least, that's the impression that I get off the message boards.
I think there's a big difference between asking a show to give some answers or progress, and dumbing it down. The problem with Lost, as I see it, is that it produces mystery without context. A discovery will be made and then completely ignored by the characters who made the discovery. The characters themselves seem to stop trying to figure anything out for long periods of time.

That said I have been really liking season three; I think the change of setting for Jack, Sawyer and Kate was a good move, and I like the move to darkness for Sun. Although it's disappointing that we haven't seen any follow-up yet. The death of the last major character introduced last year is pretty silly of course, and I can't figure out if they have a clue where they're going with Locke. Still, I think the show is going in the right direction--wherever that would be.
Oh gosh, arcane, there is so much in what you say that I disagree with- what you say, please, nothing else. You mention that there is a single already established mystery, as if this were fact. It is not. You don't know that. What is certain is that they have added mystery upon mystery without answering any of them- yes, this is in a context, of course, but what isn't, on television? The island is a conceit around which they develop all these little mysteries: Others, smoke monster, Desmond, Claire's abilities, little Turniphead, Michael and Walt, 4-toe statue, Zeke, hatch, Locke's ability to walk, people seeing things and on and on and on. It never ends. This does not reward the casual viewer and it does not reward the involved viewer; it just strings them along. At the end, you (the viewer) may wake up and find that you devoted 5 years of your life to sheer idiocy. Heroes works so well because it moves fairly swiftly along; Lost is bleeding viewers. And if they made it easier to follow, what makes anyone think it would be any less good- isn't that a sort of arrogance, to say that? Maybe it would be better.

Finally, I have a real issue with the Lost Experience- it demands attention and the interest to follow the Experience. That is, for those who spend even more time with it, you get more- so the average viewer only gets so much- the "interested" viewer gets information that the average viewer does not, and in my mind there is something intrinsically wrong with that, though I cannot articulate why. It sort of says that you can't get everything out of it by simply watching it; you have to do more, take more time out of your day, become more slavishly addicted to the TV.

I do not say be dumb- the main box office these days are stupid escapist movies, in keeping with our troubled times when all people want to do is get away and not think so hard for 2 hours. There is some of this on TV- look at 24, for example. Look at some of the procedurals. I watch Bones and it is utterly simplistic. But I watch CSI Las Vegas and it is not- it has character arcs and story lines that takes seasons to develop. But along the way, things happen and the things that take seasons are extra, and add elan vital to the show- they just don't string you out for years and tell you little. I gave up on Lost, and I'm a pretty educated TV watcher. I just hate being manipulated.
Dana, as Paxoman said I watch for the character development. I am interested in their stories, and one day at the end of Season 5 I do trust that we will learn what the island is about and there will be resolution to the mysteries. As long as the characters themselves get resoultion then I will be satisfied. I think the debate here is about how one likes their story to be told. There is no "right" answer. It is a matter of taste. Vanilla or Chocolate.
Certainly, angel fan. If we all agreed, there would be no need for this board. :-) That's a given, and is why I argue and am so contrary at times. Bigger :-). One of the issues I have with Lost is that same issue of character development. My feeling is, don't get too invested in any character, for they may get killed off- and in some cases, for what? Heck, look at last season, you know? If you invest in a character and then that character is gone, you lose interest. Not to rake old coals, but that is what happened to me after Tara died on Buffy- the show had much less resonance, and I cared much less about what happened. It lost its "realness" for me, because I was no longer invested. But the other thing about character development is that it takes place in a context. I find the conceit of the flashback wearying now- they rarely ever give us any information that actually means anything, they interupt the narrative and they distract. Those flashbacks are all about "character," but they do not really inform.
Dana5140, all I can tell you is that the information that was given during the Lost Experience has tied together each and every one of the mysteries you mentioned together for me in a very satisfactory way. I assure you that the whole thing makes sense and that it all revolves around a single, already established piece of the puzzle.

Now, what you say about the Lost Experience not being fair to those just watching the show may or may not be true but at the end of the day we live in a multimedia age where this kind of thing will become more and more common. It is already not unusual for television show makers to enhance the show with online activities. The Lost Experience was simply taking that to a whole new level.

What I do know is that all the important information that was given during the Experience (such as what the numbers actually represent and what the Dharma Inititive is all about) will be addressed on the show before it ends, so if somebody cannot get access to the online resources then they will still get the information, sooner or later.
Grounded wrote:
Lost is a mystery show. If they give concrete answers now, the show is over. To compare it to Buffy in that sense is also "completely disingenuous".

Well Carlton Cuse evoked the parallel with his comments.

As others have said in this thread, the mysteries are being dragged out for too long - and with no end in sight. And how are we to have faith that there will ever be satisfying answers?

"The X Files" is the perfect example of a show commited to never giving answers. Or, in fact, giving answers and then adding retcon on top of retcon to keep the mystery alive.

If "Lost" continues to answer nothing until an indeterminate very end, it can never hope to be satisfying. Especially when the creators are quoted as saying the network is nixing ideas purely because it wants no answers! None.

Bizarre.

I agree with Dana5140 - the flashbacks don't really inform us about who the characters are in the present. There's very litte on-island characterisation; the flashbacks don't enhance the current stories very often. The whole flashback structure works against the viewer actually getting intimately involved in the situation on the island.

And the suggestion that the show is so much better when itegrated with "The Lost Experience" just proves to me that the show itself needs work.

I wouldn't expect all answers at once. I expect some. And characters that are interesting. That would be a good start.
It's a bit OT at this point, but I just want to chime in that the only way I can enjoy 24 is to see it as a fantasy or comic book, as TamaraC mentions. What other show could pretend to be in real time, yet let a character drive from any point in Los Angeles to any other point in 10 minutes, at any hour of the day (my aunt's chief complaint about the show, lol)? Last night,

To bring this back a little to Whedonesque relevance, did y'all see the Drive commercial during 24 last night? Yay Tim! :-)

And, for this thread -- I am a big Lost fanboy, but I have to admit that I wish the overall arc would push somewhere. There are more mysteries that are unresolved than have been resolved, and I feel like they are repeating a little bit. For example, the character flashbacks are really showing more and more scenes of the characters doing the same things over and over again -- . IMO, we need new information, both about the island and the characters. At least the mini-season gave some new situations on the island, which I assume they will deal with when the show resumes.
I wish the overall arc would push somewhere.


It'll push to big people with four toes. And when I say big, I mean HUGE people who have polar bears as pets.
crossoverman - "And how are we to have faith that there will ever be satisfying answers?"

Again, the answers to the mysteries already exist (with the possible exception of the giant, four toed foot!) and have been given in the Lost Experience. It's all there already. They haven't been stupid enought to spell every detail out to you, piece by piece, but with a little bit of effort and reading you can see exactly what they are doing and where the connections are. Or you can wait until those details are given on the show. Either way, the writers do have an overall idea about what is going on. They have already told us most of it.
To bring this back a little to Whedonesque relevance, did y'all see the Drive commercial during 24 last night? Yay Tim! :-)

This is to to YouTubed and linked immediately. Get to it, please!
Lioness: Where's QuoterGal when we need her? I wonder if in fact it was just during a private conversation?

Simon: "It was from a conversation with Joss."


*lifts bleary-eyed face up from sick bed pillow*

Whaaa? Did I hear my name?

*struggles to sit up and read screen through flu-narrowed eyes*

Yeah, although Mr. Cuse is in this instance referring to a private conversation with Joss, as Simon points out, Joss has on several occasions in interviews mentioned that it always seemed to him as though in a season, fans would refer back to an earlier Buffy season as better, and so on and so on, each year.

I'd find the cite, but my master Joss-quote list is at work and I am not. But I'd swear on my pathetic sick-bed that he has said it like that - that fans regularly tended to compare new seasons unfavorably to older seasons until some time had passed.

This kind of "I loved your show earlier when it was better" syndrome always makes me think of Woody Allen's Stardust Memories, when fans were always assaulting him about his "earlier, funnier" movies.

*cough* *cough*

*head sinks wearily back onto pillow*
It'll push to big people with four toes. And when I say big, I mean HUGE people who have polar bears as pets.

Shhhh, Simon; shouldn't you put a spoiler tag on that? ;-)

I have not gotten into the Lost Experience, Arcane. Is it considered canon? For me, I already waste spend enough time checking out the interwebs and such for material related to my favorite shows *coughwhedonesque/MySpace/drivefanscough*, I don't want to add another addiction information source. I guess I would just say that as a viewer, it would be nice if the material was available in the show itself, IMO. For me, I do prefer to wait to see the details when they will be put into the series as broadcast. :-)

And, QG -- get well soon! I got the bad cold a few weeks ago myself; of course, we've been snowed in like 4 times over, so that probably had something to do with mine! Hot tea and soup, and lots of sleep, my friend. :-(

ETA: Telltale, I don't have the technology to YouTube it myself -- we have cable, no TiVo *shudders*. It didn't give away that much, just shots of cars from the outside (I couldn't see any drivers), the announcer voiceover, and the logo that's on the drivefans site and the MySpace page. Drivefans.com mentions the commercial, and a new announced airdate for the premiere -- methinks I will post a link to it. :-)

[ edited by billz on 2007-01-16 02:55 ]
I think crossoverman nailed my concerns with regard to the Experience. The show, on TV, should be sufficient; what you get via the Experience should only be add-on. If it becomes necessary to go somewhere to "integrate" the experience, I won't watch at all, ever. I don't have the time, and I don't have the interest. So that seems self-defeating, and if Cuse and Lindelof and all think that this is the way to market and develop their show, well, all I can say is that this will lead them into cancellation. Look at Felicity. Look at Alias- both shows started with such big bangs and within a couple of years were running into trouble, even though went on well past that. No one I know thinks Alias S5 was worth much- people died, were not dead, died again and were not dead again, and after a while nothing meant anything any more. With Lost, I am not sure I even care about any character any more- Sawyer is a jerk, Kate is manipulative, Charlie is an addict and a crappy person, Claire whines, Locke is deluded, Jack is whatever the hell he is and none of them are even likeable. They are not complex, not like Buffy was- look at, say, Willow and you can see why book chapters are written about her. These characters on Lost are just there, and none really resonate, not for me. And 6 episodes of torture? Huh? And wow, one of the characters is gay- what a step forward, since it has no bearing at all on anything in the show- is it a statement that being gay is just anothe personal characteristic? Would that it were so, but not on a major TV show- it is there to get that hip cache.

I appreciate Joss more and more because I think he has this intrinsic understanding of working in the medium, where he treats the fans as truly intelligent, because at root he is one of us. I get the sense that Cuse, Abrams and all think they are smarter than us, and that our concerns merit no attention because they know what they are doing and can't care whether or not anyone actually else does. Now, I simplify, of course; they care to the degree they have an audience. But they are not "us," not like Joss is "us."

QG- get well soon!
Either way, the writers do have an overall idea about what is going on. They have already told us most of it.

This seems in opposition to what I've seen, read and heard from viewers who still care about the show. Some of whom have posted in this thread.

But what about the people who just watch the show and don't have any idea about "The Lost Experience"? Also, explaining more about The Hanso Foundation doesn't actually provide any answers, just raises more questions.
Yep, billz, the Lost Experience information is most certainly canon to the show. Don't worry too much about checking it out though, if you don't want to. It's been stated that all information needed to clarify things to television-only fans will make it on to the screen eventually.

The reason that it is important is that it gives you the chance to get a little advance information about what is happening and allows you to start putting the pieces together faster than if you wait for the show to answer it all for you.

And, crossoverman, all I can work from is my own experience with the show and I can honestly say that by simply watching the show regularly and spending a small amount of time reading a little information at various Lost sites, I've been able to get a very good idea about the island and what is happening there. The Lost Experience did a lot more than just tell us more about the Hanso Foundation. It gave details on nearly every unexplained aspect of the show. From the polar bears to the numbers to almost giving away the true nature of the smoke (although that last thing has still been left open to a little speculation, thankfully).

As I told billz, eventually this information will be made available on the show too. What's important is that the fact it exists shows that the writers are working with a plan, regardless of what some fans may think.
Ya know, just to see what the hype was about, I went over to The Lost Experience to see what was there. All I can say is, you have to be kidding. There were entire threads and discussions devoted to person after person who has never appeared in the show, and to my knowledge have never even been mentioned in the show. There are huge amounts of information on Hanso. There is a series of threads and post about some woman I've never heard of. There was a lengthy summary thread that went over tons of coded information and cyphers that made utterly no sense at all, and required you to do trnalsations of numbers into ascii and then into 13-base transformations to get cryptic messages between all those people I've never heard of. It answers nothing, nothing at all. Boy, you have to be deeply into this to do this, because it is endless.

And in all that, there is no answer to why there is a 4-toed statue, at least in the 30 minutes I spent floating around. Good thing I had no work today and the wife is out of town. :-)
Dana5140, either you just said something really profound, or I've been really thick, or both, but:

"But they are not 'us,' not like Joss is 'us.'

seems utterly true and brilliant to me. Maybe it's the nyquil talking, but it made me see something in a new way.

If TV creators/producers/writers, etc. want to understand how it is that Joss inspires such personal devotion to himself and his creations, they would do well to understand that.

Not in the sense that we think we are all geniuses, or that we can make a show or a movie like Joss - although he does seem to attract his fair share of creative artists as fans - but in the sense that Joss never seems to talk down to us, his audience. He talks to us as equals.

That's so important - god, that's almost everything.

He's always said that he's a fan, like us, and I heard that, but it wasn't 'til you said "Joss is us" that I saw something really meaningful in that.

Your audience knows, really knows on some level if they are being condescended to or patronized or spoken down to - and Joss's works always assume a certain level of intelligence and humanity in his audience that's so inclusive that we do feel like he's "us" - though maybe that "us" that's thereby created is a slightly uplifted "us."

Thanks, Dana5140, I can't relate this to Lost, 'cause I've never watched it, but I do understand, I think, something more about Joss and his creations...

*plops back on pillows again*

(Thanks, billz and dana5140 for your get-well wishes - I am sleeping and souping - but it disturbs me that this is my second bad cold in a few weeks...)
Dana5140, you could just use one of the many Lost Wikis (such as here at Lostpedia to get a rundown of all the basic information. Don't go to the above link if you don't want to know anything the show hasn't told you though as you WILL be spoiled.

The Lost Experience was a summer long interactive game that gave out a lot of information, much of it not needed to simply enjoy the show, but it's pretty easy to sort out the necessary details if you want to. Not everything is spelled out for you and not all of the dots are joined (what would be the fun in that) but there is more than enough to understand the nature of the island and it's strange properties.
Hmmm, after a couple of minutes research, the Wikipedia page and a press release from ABC calls "The Lost Experience" - an alternate reality game.

I am impressed with the extent of this multimedia Experience, but it's clearly a tool of marketing, not closely related to the television production at all.

As the press release says:
The Lost Experience follows a parallel storyline not featured in the television broadcast and is designed so that both fans of the series and those unfamiliar with the show can participate.

Sounds like a completely separate, alternate-reality enterprise to me. And things revealed in the Experience either won't be revealed in the show or they won't match.

Either way, the producers of the game seem to have been thinking about the complicated backstory. This does not mean the TV scriptwriters have done the same.
==A convenient (and inconvenient) misunderstanding?==

The problem here is that for an expensive show to be a success, it relies on having a very big audience. Some shows have issues because there is a significant chunk of the audience who do not receive the show in the way that creators would like to intend. There can be a fundamental misunderstanding between what the writers think is most important on the show, and what the audience thinks is most important. This misunderstanding can be used and abused by writers but is ultimately a double-edged sword for all involved.

==The Hooks==

"Lost" has become a success, and has relied on a very big audience. Many of them mistakenly watch only for the mysteries. This is partly the fault of the writers themselves who use ongoing mysteries as 'hooks' to keep an audience watching. These hooks are used all the time on Lost, there are dozens of big ones. E.g. "What is the monster?", "Who are the others?" "What did Kate do?", "What is the significance of the numbers?", "Why did Jack get those tattoos?", "How did Locke lose the use of his legs?", "What's up with the big foot?".

Answers are revealed to these hooks on "Lost" and we do and will get resolutions. The creators know where they are going with answers often revealed in the Lost experience before they are revealed on the show (you don't need the extra stuff because either way you'll get there in the end). A problem is that answers are rarely as fulfilling as the mysteries themselves. It's intriguing to wonder Who shot J.R.?, but as soon as you find out you say "Oh, so it was her then" and the magic is gone, the casual viewer awaiting the answer will leave. And yet too few answers and many people who want answers as soon as possible get frustrated.

Twin Peaks had a very similar problem to "Lost". The story revolved around "Who Killed Laura Palmer?" and much of the audience believed that was all that mattered. People became impatient when there was no answer, ratings dwindled in the second season, and went down even further once people found out some concrete but strange answers to their question. "Twin Peaks" was not really supposed to be just about "Who Killed Laura Palmer?". The series works far better if you watch it as an exploration of the seedy underbelly of Americana, and if you accept that Lynch is going to make stuff weird.

==What is "Lost" really about?==

In my opinion like many quality series, the series is a study of the human condition, and more specifically it does this through studying the complex conflicts of faith verses reason, and right verses wrong within individuals and groups. Sometimes this is subtle (Charlie's attempts not to give into his selfish side and read Claire's diary) and sometimes less so (e.g. Jack, man of science, and Locke, man of faith, shouting at each other on strategy). Everyone of the characters on the island was psychologically lost before they got there, each faces a psychological battle if they are to become the people they can become, many of the characters will try to make sense of their world through the lense of faith or reason.

The hooks are actually insignificant unless they help to color the islanders and their journeys and interactions, it does not matter technically how Locke lost the use of his legs, whether that be car accident, explosion.. what matters is what affect it had on Locke, and how that event affected/contrasted with Locke's present life on the island and his interactions with the other losties. The exact nature of the crime that caused Kate to run from the law does not matter, what really matters is what that event reveals about who she is as a person, her past present and future, and how that event has/will impact the way she will interact with Jack and Sawyer. The same could be said of any hooks which are all ultimately superficial.

==Conclusion==

Viewership will continue to bleed, because a massive chunk of the "Lost" audience are not interested enough in what "Lost" is really about, and instead think they need to have mysteries resolved as soon as possible (and yet if this same audience did get too many answers they would also leave). The flashbacks are a device heavily used on the show, but after Season 1, we have a good idea of who the main characters are, so it makes it more difficult to learn something significant that we didn't know before (which frustrates many people who want big revelations). The creators will continue in their attempts to make the quality show they would like, adding subtle layers of depth to the losties and their interactions, and yet also struggle to evenly create and resolve the hooks which help attract huge audiences (even if the majority of the audience watching for hooks does not actually care that much about what "Lost" is really about).

==X-Files side note==

It's interesting that "The X-Files" was brought up, because my understanding was that at one point Chris Carter expected five seasons. If X-Files had ended with the film, "Fight the Future" (which takes place after the fifth season finale), and that film had acted as narrative closure (with a different ending) I would have been very satisfied with how things wrapped up. After those five seasons all the pieces of the X-Files puzzle fitted very well together. It still breaks my heart today that they continued making that show for another four years after that (a total of 9 seasons).
Not exactly, crossoverman.

It's an alternate reality game in the sense that it was being played out in our world (with the likes of Rachel Blake making real world appearances at Lost conventions) and yet was a part of the Lost fiction. It did tell a parallel storyline to the one in Lost, featuring characters that will not feature in the show, but the information it gave that relates to the island is still accurate. The Experience storyline runs alongside the television storyline, hence the term "parallel", but was left seperate enough so that you could enjoy the show independantly. However it is still canon.

Trust me, I followed it from start to finish so I'm very aware of what the Lost Experience is or is not. ;)
Paxomen, very well put and I could not agree more.

As much as the various mysteries interest me, it's the characters that keep me coming back every week. If I didn't care about the likes of Locke, Kate, Sawyer and the rest then it really wouldn't be enough for me to be wondering about numbers, hatches and polar bears.

My advice would be to stop wanting the answers to be given and just enjoy the ride until it's over. Can you guarantee that the end will satisfy you? No, of course not. But then I'd rather be let down by a show that has kept me on the edge of my seat for five years that sit and watch a run of the mill, by-the-numbers procedural for my entertainment, just so that I know that I'll get all the answers.

[ edited by Arcane on 2007-01-16 04:45 ]
Arcan and Paxomen, you say to watch for the characters, fine, good point. I'm glad you still find these people interesting, but my problem is that the writers seem to have as little a plan with the character development as with the plot.

The flashbacks show us nothing new, Jack has become this mega-macho man who can beat a conman at poker, outshoot Kate (who is a criminal regardless of what crime she actually committed), and out-manipulate the Others who are masters of manipulation.

Jack's just the most obvious example, but I still feel that the other characters have also been changing, not developing. Also, if they expect me to become emotionally invested in any characters then I need to know that they won't be killed off for a reason as stupid as, she was young, she didn't have much backstory to explore (Shannon).
Kokomo, I don't know what episodes you have seen or where you are in the story at this point but, to stick with your example of Jack, his flashbacks have been very informative and have told us an awful lot about the man he is, as opposed to the man he tries to be. Given the fact that you have stated yourself that we are now seeing aspects of Jack that weren't immediately obvious then I'm not sure how you can then suggest that there is no development. I'd say that is was quite the opposite.

If you are meaning that the characters, such as Jack, are developing in ways that you did not expect, becoming people you did not originally see them as being, then I'd say that is part of good story telling. Characters take unexpected turns in all good television series. Or did you guess back in Buffy season one that the nerdy, bookwork Willow we first met was going to become a world destroying, lesbian witch in a few short years? ;)
Paxoman, your understanding of Chris Carter and The X-Files is wrong. He could have left after five seasons. He didn't. He would have kept going if Fox had renewed the series again for a tenth season. Just as JJ Abrams may say there will only be 100 episodes of Lost, if ABC wants the show to continue, it will continue. JJ Abrams probably won't be there by the fifth season anyway - he's got a Star Trek feature film to direct.

I tend to think if the audience and creators have a fundamental misunderstanding about the show, then it's the creators who are at fault. The viewers can have their likes and dislikes; they can prefer last season to this season. But if it looks and moves and acts like a mystery series, then that's what it should be. But as you admit yourself, the resolutions to the mysteries are never as intriguing as the mysteries themselves.

But because the resolutions themselves are bad, doesn't mean the idea of resolving stories and mysteries is bad. Your example of Twin Peaks is interesting, because the series was marketed as "Who Killed Laura Palmer" and people couldn't see past that. Perhaps ABC is partly at fault for marketing Lost as a mystery, although it's surely not the character study you make it out to be either.

Mark Frost, Twin Peaks' co-creator, suggests the biggest problem with that show is that they didn't have any other mystery to compete with or take over from Laura Palmer. They introduced the Windom Earle plot too late in proceedings. But the resolution of the Laura Palmer murder story is *fascinating* - which can't be said of any of the very few answers Lost has provided.
You know, paxoman, I have a problem with this statement: "Viewership will continue to bleed, because a massive chunk of the "Lost" audience are not interested enough in what "Lost" is really about." The reason is, that posits that you actually do know what Lost is really about. And I don't think you do, in the sense that you can provide an answer for all viewers. For you, it is about the characters. Fine. But not for me. And it is not about the Island for me, either. I love a statement from Roger Ebert- he says a movie is not what it's about, it's about how it's about it. Parse that for a minute.

And you say "Many of them mistakenly watch only for the mysteries." Now, how is that a mistake? Some people watched Buffy because they enjoyed the humor. Some watched it because they enjoyed the metaphor. Some watched it because they love James Marsters or Alyson Hannigan. There is no mistake in how people watch what they watch; they watch because for whatever reason it interests them. And my point all along here is that the writers and producers are creating a show that is giving people reasons not to watch- and this is born out by the fact, which I read only moments ago, that Lost is down 14% in viewers this year. They could not even compete against that singing show, what is it called, Americal Idol. They moved it an hour later just to get it away from the competition. This is not the mark of a healthy and growing show, and some of the problems are of their own making. This is not a show that will remain a success only for those people who "get it." I no longer get it; I see no point in watching endless mystery after endless mystery. Buffy at least tied up major story lines at the end of each season, even if other things carried over to later. Lost has answered nearly nothing in nearly 3 years. The second year seems to be an aberration- does anyone really believe they turfed Michelle Rodriguez just to suit the story- or did her arrest have something to do with it? Every major character from year 2- gone. Think that mystery will ever be answered? No. They will go back to focusing on Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Sun, Claire, Charlie, Locke, Sayeed and Hurley, with a bit of Desmond and Other thrown in- because that is what viewers want. If they don't, the show will end.

The key to Lost having any longevity will be to provide answers that have resonance while creating new mysteries that build on what we have learned. That has not happened- giving us info on the hatch hardly counts because it told us nothing at all about the hatch. Some people bemoaned the introduction of Dawn in Buffy, but boy, it sure gave the show some new poignance, and made us reconsider a whole lot of things. That ain't happening here. Characters act one way and then another without rhyme or reason- Locke being worst in some ways. And it never makes any sense.

QG- you hit my point exactly on the head, well said about what I meant about Joss being us.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2007-01-16 06:26 ]
Couldn't disagree with you more on anything you said Dana. Except the Dawn thing.

[ edited by Shaggy on 2007-01-16 07:15 ]
I have a problem with this statement: "Viewership will continue to bleed, because a massive chunk of the "Lost" audience are not interested enough in what "Lost" is really about.".. And you say "Many of them mistakenly watch only for the mysteries." Now, how is that a mistake?


OK I didn't make it clear, but I am aware that most of my posts are opinion, and I don't mean for it to come across as fact. I also believe myself that ratings are not everything. Lost viewership may be dwindling but are the shows with best ratings the ones of highest quality? Your right, it is only my opinion that it is a "mistake" to watch just for the mysteries, it's just that I believe that people who only watch for the mysteries are not going to get the fullest enjoyment from the show and would most likely just get frustrated. the creators have admited on their podcast that the characters are more important than the mysteries from their perspective. But it's true that the show could be "really about" many different things to different viewers.

I appreciate Joss more and more because I think he has this intrinsic understanding of working in the medium, where he treats the fans as truly intelligent, because at root he is one of us. - Dana5140


BtVS and AtS are my personal top rated series but that does not stop me from having hugely enjoyed "Lost". But I believe that like every series it has its own personality, and that personality is only going to match with some people. I think that Whedon's shows were very different to "Lost". If BtVS is a "post-modern study of the human condition surrounding a young woman using horror pastiche and blending genres", "Lost" is a "study of the moral and philosophical conflicts within a community of lost souls stranded on an island". This difference means that "Lost" is not "BtVS", but it’s not trying to be, it is a fundamentally different show made by fundamentally different people. Probably everyone who takes the time to actually post on this board (me included) has a better match with BtVS/Angel, and a preference for Whedon as an Executive Producer.

I tend to think if the audience and creators have a fundamental misunderstanding about the show, then it's the creators who are at fault. - crossoverman


IMO I'd agree the misunderstanding I spoke of is partly the fault of the creators for using hooks to keep an audience.

I see no point in watching endless mystery after endless mystery. - Dana5140


Again, I'd agree, and that's not why I watch, and I don't understand how people get any enjoyment from watching it this way.

I need to know that they won't be killed off for a reason as stupid as, she was young, she didn't have much back-story to explore (Shannon). - Kokomo


I disagree. Her genuine love for Sayid, and her grief for Boone hugely softened up her 'selfish bitch' persona. I believe that Shannon's character arc had therefore reached a natural conclusion. In the same way IMO other major Lost characters, Boone, Ana-Lucia and Eko reached genuine conclusions in their arcs before they were killed off (though I would agree Libby's arc did not reach a conclusion, I'm fairly certain her arc will continue through flashbacks).

With Lost, I am not sure I even care about any character any more- Sawyer is a jerk, Kate is manipulative, Charlie is an addict and a crappy person, Claire whines, Locke is deluded, Jack is whatever the hell he is and none of them are even likeable. - Dana5140


I'm glad you still find these people interesting, but my problem is that the writers seem to have as little a plan with the character development as with the plot. - Kokomo


That is your opinion of the characters, and I can understand and respect this kind of opinion, certainly each of the characters is deeply flawed. These characters probably won't resonate with plenty of people, but they do resonate with others, me included. Many of us face our own inner conflicts between faith and reason. I myself am fascinated by the conflicts between science and religion. I can understand why people write Locke off as a deluded fool, but in my mind his ongoing spiritual journey makes him one of the most complex and fascinating characters to grace our screens.

Where some people see "no characterization", I see a different type of more subtle psycho-spiritual characterization, as each lostie has their own ongoing moral and philosophical battles within themselves and with others. Here is an example of just a few of the kind of battles I am talking about using Hurley: Using an imaginary friend to justify overeating, facing madness wondering whether a string of bad luck is down to fate or chance, and trying to deal with the responsibility and burden of wealth.

All of the characters battle deep ongoing psychological problems. It is now difficult for the flashbacks to give any big revelations, but they give subtle context to the past, present and future of the lostie in question. Each lostie has to come to terms with their past, and overcome obstacles in their own personalities if they are to rest in peace, alternatively they might refuse to grow as people and give in to the darker side of themselves.

I think this is ultimately a point-of-view matter, those not interested in the characters or the way they struggle with morality and faith, IMO are watching the wrong show.

Your understanding of Chris Carter and The X-Files is wrong. He could have left after five seasons. - crossoverman


When I said "they" I meant everyone who signed on for more. Personally much as I admire Carter for his "X-Files" and "Millennium" and writing/directing some amazing episodes ("The Post-Modern Prometheus", "Triangle" and "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas"), I really wish all involved could have ended the series at the end of fifth season since then it would have left as a legendary stint of television (excepting the odd dodgy episode) as opposed to being looked back on as a series that went on for too long and lost all its quality.
The only thing I admire Carter for is surrounding himself with people who were good writers and directors. The true highlights of The X-Files were written and directed by people other than Carter.

And there was really nothing good about Chris Carter's Millennium. It became far more interesting in year two when it was Glen Morgan & James Wongs' Millennium.
I'm in the corner with Arcane. Exactly.
Glen Morgan & James Wongs' Millennium (season 2), is one of my all time favorite seasons of teleision ever, and Darin Morgan (who wrote two episodes that season) is one of my heros.

But unless we've been lied to Carter at least created the series, X-Files/Millennium. Crossoverman are you familar with those three episodes ("The Post-Modern Prometheus", "Triangle" and "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas") because Carter wrote/directed them, and I think they are really good. Though Carter was equally capable of making IMO absolute rubbish ("Space", "Improbable", "Fight Club").
Oh, I believe Carter created the series, definitely. And I am familiar with at least two of those episodes - but my best memory suggests that the tone of those were informed by Darin Morgan's off-the-wall episodes and Carter simply tried to copy what had already been done better. But it's been a long time!
My point was that the characters do not develop naturally, they seem to have the skills that are necessary for that moment and that episode's action.

But my main problem with the characters is that they don't use them all! If you can't give attention to all your regulars then do not have them be regulars, and certainly don't keep adding new characters every season. Joss had a spaceship with 9 people and each got screentime and lines and scenes and character development. Maybe the Lost people would feel more natural if we saw them every episode instead of every other or even less often. Your example of Hurley is true, he's one of the most interesting people there, but we've only seen him do anything in two or three episodes. The rest of the time he gives his witty one-liner and then fades back into the background or we don't see him at all.

Once again, my emotional investment in these characters had better pay off, with screentime and if they must die (and obviously if I'm here I'm a fan of the painful but totally necessary death) it has to be worth it.

ETA: I've seen all the episodes of Lost. I was wavering on the edge of giving it up when I heard that Nathan was going to be on, so I held on

[ edited by Kokomo on 2007-01-16 08:07 ]
When it comes down to it, this topic is the same as any other. You can go back and forth all night but ultimately it's all about personal opinion. What you think of the characters and the development. Whether you want the mysteries solved now or not. Whether you think Kate should be with Sawyer or Jack. At the end of the day, one person's opinion will really only ever effect that one person.

I'm not trying to tell anyone here that they should be a Lost fan. You watch it then you decide whether you will watch it again, same as any other show. It isn't perfect and it most certainly is not going to suit everyone, no matter what it is or isn't. To be honest, as long as the show continues to entertain me and holds on to an audience large enough to prevent cancellation then I really don't care who watches and who doesn't.

All I do care about, and the only reason that I get into these discussions when I know I'm probably not going to change anyone's mind, is that Lost is given the respect it deserves. It does slightly annoy me to constantly read people's opinions that I know from personal experience are not true and unfair. It isn't the case that Lost never answers questions. It certainly isn't true that the Lost writers have no idea about where they are going or what the answers to the big mysteries are and, as far as I can see, the character development makes perfect sense. Just because you haven't seen every second of a given character's history in flashback yet doesn't mean other developments are not on the way.

Again, I'm not trying to change anybody's mind about the show. If you don't like what it has become then don't watch. All I would ask is that people accept that many of the issues that people have with he show are unfair or simply not the case. It requires your time, your patience and your attention. For those reasons it's not a show that all will enjoy but that doesn't make it bad television. Quite the opposite.
When I said "they" I meant everyone who signed on for more. Personally much as I admire Carter for his "X-Files" and "Millennium" and writing/directing some amazing episodes ("The Post-Modern Prometheus", "Triangle" and "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas"), I really wish all involved could have ended the series at the end of fifth season since then it would have left as a legendary stint of television (excepting the odd dodgy episode) as opposed to being looked back on as a series that went on for too long and lost all its quality.

I honestly wonder if people who say this actually watched season 6 (to a lesser extent) and season 8 (to a not so lesser extent)? Seven was pretty damn average, sure (must be the number, Season 7 of Buffy was as well), and nine wasn't the best (although better than seven, on par with one, trying to find it's feet really with the new cast and mythology). But Season 8. Man. That was fantastic. A true return to from for the series.
And then they ended it the way they ended it and all that good work was wasted ;(.

Whichever season had 'Samantha in the starlight' was where X-Files jumped for me (and I do mean 'jumped', after that complete nonsense I couldn't watch even good later episodes in the same light).

Classic example of what i'm afraid 'Lost' might succumb to in that we have a great mystery, the driving motivator for one of the principal characters and it's resolved in such an ad hoc, silly way. Carter never had a clue how he was going to end it and, despite all their protestations to the contrary, i'm not convinced Lindelof et al do either. Really hope i'm proved wrong though.

(and where's my bloody 'Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk #3' you lazy get ? ;).
Saje, that would be season seven. The "Duchovny is leaving so let's tie up all the Mulder related storylines as quickly as possible" season.

Which brings up another good point. Another reason that I don't see Lost "doing an X-Files" is that there is no single central character that everything hangs on. If Matthew Fox left in the middle of season three then there is still a whole bunch of very strong main characters that would step into the role of leader, be that Locke, Sawyer or even Kate. Whereas the X-Files lost it's core without Mulder, Lost is not about Jack alone. In fact any of the characters are technically expendable and could easily be killed off at any time without ruining the story.

As Saje said, it became very obvious that Chris Carter never had a final plan for how the X-Files would end. Ultimately the payoff and what we saw didn't live up to the promise of the early seasons. However I don't think that is the case with Lost as the details and reasons for what is happening and who is behind it all already exist. What I will agree with, to a certain extent, is that I doubt that Lindelof and Cuse know exactly how they will present that information in televised form and if the end result will live up to the fan expectations. They have the answers already but until the final episodes are filmed then nobody can know just how well they will dramatise those answers onscreen.
I'm not sure how to take this: " It does slightly annoy me to constantly read people's opinions that I know from personal experience are not true and unfair." I mean, how can my personal opinion be not true and unfair? It's my opinion, you know? You may disagree with it based on something out of your own experience, but that hardly makes it unfair and wrong. So I am not sure what you are really saying here.

And of course, all of this is all opinion. Bringing that fact up is sort of a thread killer, in my opinion, because it crops up whenever it seems we reach an impasse. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind; I'm just offering my thoughts for debate. Through debate we reach better clarity. We see things maybe we did not consider. For example, when paxoman says "I really wish all involved could have ended the series (X-Files) at the end of fifth season since then it would have left as a legendary stint of television (excepting the odd dodgy episode) as opposed to being looked back on as a series that went on for too long and lost all its quality," I realize that this is exactly what a lof of people said about Buffy after it went to Seasons 6 and 7, that it should have ended at 5 seasons. So, is the sauce for Carter not the same as the goose for Whedon? No, what we have is an opinion- that Carter did his best work in S1-5, and that for some the same is true for Joss; for others, they love Buffy S6 and 7. Who's right? All of them.

The head of ABC has taken issue with Lost for focusing too much on the Others, Jack, Kate and Sawyer this year, and not enough on the rest of the characters. I will bet you dollars to donuts that for the next 16 eps you will see that focus change. It's an easy read to see that those that die are those who reached conclusion of their redemption, sort of (I mean, Shannon was with Sayeed for just around maybe 4 episodes). Given that, we know what will happen to others, just not how. Those network heads may interfere with their writers' ideas, but what they do know is how to read the marketplace. Lost has some structural problems it must resolve if it is to remain a top show; it has to address the concerns that are being thrown at it. Telling folks it is all about the characters and not about the mysteries is a big mistake in my opnion, because it cuts out of the formula anyone who cares about the mysteries. You need to provide answers to both or you alienate part of your audience. And that is what happened. That's why we have 70 posts here on a non-Buffy subject.

Joss is us. (I think I should make this my tagline :-))
See, you hit the nail on the head there, Dana5140. The network heads know exactly how to read the marketplace, but only their idea of what the marketplace should be. For them it doesn't matter about the content of the show or the quality of the writing. Only the ratings matter. They know that if the show follows a stereotypical path and plays by the rules then it will attract more viewers. They know that. We all know that. Does that mean that every single show should follow the same structural ideas though? God, I hope not!

The focus of the next episodes will most certainly change back towards the rest of the cast but not because of anything that the ABC execs have said. That was always the plan. Focus on the core characters and the Others for the first six episodes and then go back to the more varied story we were used to. This was how they wanted the story told and is what we will get.

As for personal opinions being wrong or unfair, it happens all the time. People can be wrong. Hell, I know I've held opinions in the past that later proved to be totally in error regardless of how much I once believed them to be true. In the case of Lost I think that it's fair for me to suggest that the idea that the show lacks answers and focus to be wrong when I'm very much aware that it has both of those qualities. You are perfectly entitled to believe the opposite, if you wish, but if there is evidence to prove otherwise then is it not reasonable that it would annoy a fan of the show to constantly hear opinions that he knows not to be true? If you were watching a show that gave you all the answers you needed and was telling it's story in a way that you found perfectly satisfying then would you not tire of hearing the opinion that it made no sense and answered no questions when you knew that it did both those things?
Arcane, I get that with Buffy all the time. :-) I bet you do, too, except maybe here.

Anyway, no I think you have it wrong, respectfully. You claim the show has answers and focus. I don't feel it does, though I never made that claim in anything I wrote above; I had other concerns, but stay with me here for a minute. Let's say we have a disagreement with your comment. Who is wrong? You really and truly believe that the show has focus and answers, and I really and truly believe it does not. And we are both right. It does not even actually matter if there were real answers in the show- because to me, it does not have answers. Period. This is not right, or wrong, or factual or anything. It is what it is, going back to my Ebert comment way above. We do not see things the same way. There are rational people on both sides of the abortion debate, for example, and I can't say that either are wrong or right, per se, though I am very much pro-choice. I can respect honest arguments about right-to-life without agreeing with them. Lost is, to me, lost. But in truth, I never get tired of people disagreeing with me about my television viewing pleasures. It is all fun. When I posted above about American Idol, I originally called it a stupid show- but then revised that because some people really like it. I don't. But that's me. I love Buffy and cannot understand where I went wrong raising my kids, who don't. But they don't.
Might as well throw my 2 cents in here....

Look, it's just my opinion, but for me, the problem with LOST boils down to a simple question: does the plot drive the characters, or do the characters drive the plot?

For most of Season 1, I thought the characters were driving the plot. The physical and psychic trials of the characters were intrinsically linked to the mysteries of the island, and as we found out more about our castaways, as we found their true selves, we'd find out more about the island as well. The whole package felt "organic."

In Seasons 2 and 3, I feel the dynamic has been reversed, and the plot is driving the characters. If Cuse and Lindelhof are going from "A" to a definite "Z" somewhere down the line, they're stumbling over the intermediate steps, taking the focus away from major cast members and shunting the viewership down blind alleys in order to set up their endgame (whenever the end comes). I'm in agreement with other posters that the characters themselves are either running in circles, or they've been distorted and diluted in order to serve the plot.

This is a major problem: Cuse and Lindelhof are operating under the assumption that they're running a character drama (charcter drives plot), when execution of the weekly episodes screams that LOST is a mystery (plot drives characters). That bit of cognitive dissonance is what's pissing everybody off.

Ideally, a truly talented creative team should be able to do BOTH. Joss did it for five seasons (or seven, if you're so kind) of BUFFY. I don't have that kind of faith in the LOST crew.
This is from the Boson Herald:

"“It’s time for us to find an endpoint to the show,” Cuse said. “If we had an endpoint, then we could figure out where everything goes.”
Lindelof said they originally envisioned a 100-episode run for the series so “we never had to do the bad season, the stall season.” So far the deserted islanders have aired a mere 53 installments.
Laying out the series’ projected structure Lindelof continued, “Season 1 is the introduction, Season 2 is the hatch, Season 3 is the Others. I don’t want to tell you what Season 4 is going to be, and then there’s the wrap-up season.”
After a three-month hiatus, “Lost” will return to ABC’s Wednesday line-up next month at 10 p.m. It will air interrupted through May.
And if you’re wondering what’s been happening to those characters left on the beach while the show’s storyline concentrated on Jack, Kate and Sawyer’s Others ordeal, the producers promised answers in this season’s second half.
"

Inplicit in what they said there is that they do not know where everything goes, which then implies that they are making it up as they go along; otherwise, they certainly would know where everything goes. Also unstated here is the lack of linkage between the seasons- the season have different focuses and therefore different goals. I think cjl has something there in his/her comments (sorry, can'te tell by your moniker).

Plus, like I said, they are going back to the main guys for the rest of htis season. They have to, whether or not they planned it that way. The suits are not stupid, and it is not always about the money, it is about keeping viewers, which it will if the show appeals to a wide audience, not a select one of just "those who get it."

Joss is us (there, I did it!)
It's "his" comments, Dana.

I think the producers do have an endgame, and they have a general idea of how to get there. But without an actual endpoint, they're struggling with how to space out the revelations. If LOST ends after either S5 or S7, do they reveal the mystery behind the four-toed statue in S4 or wait for S6? Do they kill off Hurley (hypothetical!) in the middle of S5 or hold off until the end?

In a sense, Cuse and Lindelhof are trapped. They can't do the Joss-tested seasonal arc, because the network is scared that revealing even part of the overall answer might trigger a mass exodus in viewership. They can't fully engage the castaways "in the moment" because too much active digging into their environment might also reveal some of the mysteries prematurely.

As a result, we still have the flashback structure, which has outgrown its usefulness as a major storytelling device. The castaways never seem to collaborate and put together information about the island and their mutual, desperate situation; they seem strangely disengaged from their own crisis, and the viewer becomes acutely aware of the creators artificially slowing down and manipulating the plot to streeeeeeeeeeetch out the seasons.

[ edited by cjl on 2007-01-16 17:21 ]
"As a result, we still have the flashback structure, which has outgrown its usefulness as a major storytelling device. The castaways never seem to collaborate and put together information about the island and their mutual, desperate situation; they seem strangely disengaged from their own crisis, and the viewer becomes acutely aware of the creators artificially slowing down and manipulating the plot to streeeeeeeeeeetch out the seasons."

I think what I hate most is the simple fact that no one ever asks the obvious question, like- what are you doing and why?

But you're right on them stretching things out, for sure.

Joss is us. :-)
I think Lindelof's description of the seasons is interesting, given - as cjl points out - the fact that each season seems to be focusing on something completely different, sometimes in complete disregard to the main characters.

J. Michael Straczynski, who planned Babylon 5 out before it was even in production, described his five seasons like the parts of a book - Season 1: Introduction, Season 2: Rising Action, Season 3: Turning Point, Season 4: Climax, Season 5: Denouement

Babylon 5 is the perfect example of long-term TV storytelling because it was planned in advance - and the proof of that is there to see when watching it. But JMS also knew that some mysteries needed to be paid off as the series progressed, only to have them replaced with other questions along the way.

And he never lost (hehehe) focus on the main characters. And I don't think he ever killed off anyone randomly, either.
Oh, the B4 stuff (among other examples from Babylon 5) was great and exactly the sort of thing that inspires faith that the creator (JMS, not god ;) actually has a plan. Contrast with the way Desmond was shoehorned into 'Lost' in a flashback one or two episodes before he appeared.

The problem for me was partly that foreshadowing was done so brilliantly in S1 of 'Lost' with Locke's obvious (and slightly sinister) post-crash happiness not being payed off until the end of episode 4. That was great TV (in fact when it first played over here I told all my friends to give it at least until the end of that ep. - 'Walkabout' - to decide if they liked the show cos that was when it really showed what it could do).

So they can do it, I just hope they manage to get back to that form (or that they have already in the episodes I haven't seen yet).

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