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Old 09-20-2013, 09:42 AM   #1
Rob Helmerichs
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Lost: They Had A Plan (or, Not So Much)

http://boingboing.net/2013/09/18/ear...-guide-is.html
http://www.blastr.com/2013-9-18/8-th...004-show-bible

The original Lost writers' bible has gone online, and apparently "We knew how it would end from the beginning" means as little as some of us suspected. The excerpts at these links are interesting; I look forward to reading the whole thing this weekend.
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:08 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Rob Helmerichs View Post
http://boingboing.net/2013/09/18/ear...-guide-is.html
http://www.blastr.com/2013-9-18/8-th...004-show-bible

The original Lost writers' bible has gone online, and apparently "We knew how it would end from the beginning" means as little as some of us suspected. The excerpts at these links are interesting; I look forward to reading the whole thing this weekend.
Do we know this is legit, and not some hoax?
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:11 AM   #3
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"No - we're not gonna tell where that polar bear came from." They filmed the pilot before they had even decided what the show would be about or how any of its elements would fit into a broader story arc. The pilot was nothing more than a high-concept movie - "A plane crashes on an island and mysterious things happen to the survivors."
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:11 AM   #4
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I think the writers have back peddled on this a bit. I think they have now said they knew how it would end, but not how it would get there. At least I remember reading that somewhere.
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:16 AM   #5
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People won't let it go. Lost was a fun ride like a roller coaster, but it was just that a ride like a roller coaster. It didn't go anywhere, but was a lot of fun along the way.
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:31 AM   #6
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I think the writers have back peddled on this a bit. I think they have now said they knew how it would end, but not how it would get there. At least I remember reading that somewhere.
It turns out all they meant by that was the framing shots of Jack's eye. Nothing more.

It just sounded a lot more...comprehensive than it actually was.

And don't get me wrong...it was a great show, one of the best. It just had, for me, a profoundly unsatisfying ending, because, for me, it completely ignored a lot of the implicit promise of the show as it unfolded. Not to mention the pretty explicit promise of "We knew from the beginning how it was going to end."
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:32 AM   #7
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It seems like the show wouldn't have been nearly as good if they had stuck to that original outline. Instead, you had a fluid story that was always evolving. I can see why some people are upset because the producers kept on insisting that the whole thing was mapped out from the beginning. It doesn't bother me, though. All that matters is the end product, and in my mind, Lost remains one of the greatest stories ever told on television.
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:36 AM   #8
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People won't let it go. Lost was a fun ride like a roller coaster, but it was just that a ride like a roller coaster. It didn't go anywhere, but was a lot of fun along the way.
People won't let it go, in the same way that the original Star Trek is still talked about. It had a core, almost cult like following. It's a series ripe with mysteries that can be discussed over and over. And there was lots of controversy by fans on the ending. So yes, it's going to be one of those series that will probably be discussed for years.
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:39 AM   #9
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It turns out all they meant by that was the framing shots of Jack's eye. Nothing more.

It just sounded a lot more...comprehensive than it actually was.

And don't get me wrong...it was a great show, one of the best. It just had, for me, a profoundly unsatisfying ending, because, for me, it completely ignored a lot of the implicit promise of the show as it unfolded. Not to mention the pretty explicit promise of "We knew from the beginning how it was going to end."
We definitely agree on this. If they took the last season in a different direction, I probably would have liked it better (although, in context to the whole season, the ending fit, but that last season just felt like a different show altogether.
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Old 09-20-2013, 12:28 PM   #10
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the thing I liked about Lost was that it wasn't a bunch of self-contained episodes. I liked the continuing storyline. There have been lots of shows since that told a long continuous story where is was important to watch every episode (Breaking Bad comes to mind; another would be DayBreak).
Were there any shows before Lost that really didn't have self-contained episodes?

Nowadays, those are the shows I seek out - the ones I prefer.
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Old 09-20-2013, 01:00 PM   #11
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Nowadays, those are the shows I seek out - the ones I prefer.
Have you watched "House of Cards" or "Orange is the New Black" on Netflix?

I've heard that about these two. And specifically about how Netflix's development model (committing to and making the entire season at once) allows for this sort of patient, more elaborate, character-driven storytelling, as opposed the traditional "pilot" on "broadcast TV" model.

"Six Feet Under" was another one I appreciated that seemed to follow a similar formula and pace. The first three seasons, and the last 5-6 episodes of the final season, offered some of my favorite televised drama.
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Old 09-20-2013, 01:02 PM   #12
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Very interesting read. As JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof state, the vision, the plan, the architectural drawings, are only good until you start the building. Then reality rears its ugly face.

I'm not going to debate the show. We've spent countless electrons on that. I will discuss this document versus the show.

A few things they discuss:

* The island is huge, and they never show the entire island from above. I believe they stuck with this.

* There are layers of history. While our survivors may find something that dates back to WWII, they may also find something that dates back to ancient times. This also became integral to the story.

* The Dharma concept was there from day zero.

* The Others were there from day zero.

* They intended to have all the survivors, except for the main 14, disappear within a few episodes. To who knows where?

In the character summaries, not a single word about Locke being handicapped, or Hurley winning the lotto.

* COCOONS? You gotta read this part for yourself (pg 23 of PDF). Let's be thankful it stayed on the page and not on the screen.

One thing that strikes me is the flashbacks. They became an integral part of the show, yet are only briefly mentioned. In this briefing, they refer to "FLASHBACKS (as established in the Pilot)", and that's it. They say they can be a story device. They ended up being one of the defining features of the show.

Clearly, between the Pilot (and this briefing), and the actual season being written, the writer's room fleshed out some serious conceptual futures. That led to the (arguably) greatest drama in the history of broadcast TV.
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Old 09-20-2013, 01:10 PM   #13
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Were there any shows before Lost that really didn't have self-contained episodes?

Nowadays, those are the shows I seek out - the ones I prefer.
One of the earliest I can remember was Babylon 5, although the first season didn't have a whole lot of arc stuff. That first season was mostly standalone episodes for character development, and the arc started to wind up about 3/4 into the first season. In case of Babylon 5, the major arc WAS plotted ahead of time, and had to make course corrections as cast changes came about. It was a grand experiment that almost didn't work, what with cast changes and actually being cancelled in the 4th season when the arc was actually planned for 5.

I do wonder though, how everyone would feel differently, had we not had the Internet. Think back to the 60s, 70s, 80s, the most anyone had was an occasional cast interview in TV Guide. I don't remember reading or hearing interviews from showrunners. Hell, we didn't even know the term. Would people feel differently about Lost, if all we had were the episodes to watch as they aired?

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Old 09-20-2013, 01:46 PM   #14
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Reading about the characters, we had always heard that the original plan was to kill Jack off in the pilot. According to this document, that wasn't the case.
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Old 09-20-2013, 01:50 PM   #15
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One of the earliest I can remember was Babylon 5, although the first season didn't have a whole lot of arc stuff. That first season was mostly standalone episodes for character development, and the arc started to wind up about 3/4 into the first season. In case of Babylon 5, the major arc WAS plotted ahead of time, and had to make course corrections as cast changes came about. It was a grand experiment that almost didn't work, what with cast changes and actually being cancelled in the 4th season when the arc was actually planned for 5.
I disagree with your comment that the early seasons "didn't have a lot of arc stuff". There are plenty of events in the later seasons that connect back to events in the early seasons. You may not have recognized those things as "arc stuff" when you watched Season 1 or 2; nevertheless, the setup for the later events is there.

With a show like Babylon 5, it doesn't make sense to divide what happens in episodes as "only character development" vs. "arc stuff (i.e. plot)"; the two are intertwined, as they are in other character-driven stories (e.g. George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire).
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Old 09-20-2013, 01:53 PM   #16
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Do we know this is legit, and not some hoax?
Good point - there were a lot of hoaxes that popped up during the airing of the show. I think I give this some credibility because of the source (Cory Doctorow).
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Old 09-20-2013, 02:16 PM   #17
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... I do wonder though, how everyone would feel differently, had we not had the Internet. Think back to the 60s, 70s, 80s, the most anyone had was an occasional cast interview in TV Guide. I don't remember reading or hearing interviews from showrunners. Hell, we didn't even know the term. Would people feel differently about Lost, if all we had were the episodes to watch as they aired?

Greg
Great question!
I would say that the internet (and this forum specifically) added a LOT to my enjoyment of LOST. Easter eggs were pointed out, subtle details that might have been missed were discussed, and interesting theories were debated. This was all new to me back then, so it enhanced the whole viewing experience for me.
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Old 09-20-2013, 02:18 PM   #18
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People won't let it go. Lost was a fun ride like a roller coaster, but it was just that a ride like a roller coaster. It didn't go anywhere, but was a lot of fun along the way.
And just like a rollercoaster ride, after the last big drop there was a sudden stop, and a slow roll back to the starting position. In other words the ride was over way before you could get off.
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Old 09-20-2013, 02:43 PM   #19
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I disagree with your comment that the early seasons "didn't have a lot of arc stuff". There are plenty of events in the later seasons that connect back to events in the early seasons. You may not have recognized those things as "arc stuff" when you watched Season 1 or 2; nevertheless, the setup for the later events is there.
Yes, this is key. A lot of the stand-alone episodes don't stand so much alone on a second watching years later. For all his (many) flaws, JMS was brilliant at big-picture thinking, from the beginning. And having the experience of what JMS meant when he said things like "I knew how it ended from the beginning" gave Lindelof's statement a lot more weight than "Jack's eyes close."

Lost was a great show. If it had been what it pretended to be for most of the middle seasons, it might have been the greatest show ever.
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Old 09-20-2013, 04:30 PM   #20
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OK guys, I'll take it back... yes, there were a lot of arc things happening in the first season, but they were pretty small until Babylon Squared. Like the mention in every other episode of the Battle of the Line, and the hole in Sinclair's mind. THAT annoyed the hell out of me as it unfolded, but looking back later it was important.

So now Damon Lindelof has something to say about that show bible.

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[But] by the time we started breaking the first two episodes, it was already very clear to everyone in the room that the document that we had written to get the show picked up was going to be completely and totally null and void.
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Old 09-20-2013, 06:14 PM   #21
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Great question!
I would say that the internet (and this forum specifically) added a LOT to my enjoyment of LOST. Easter eggs were pointed out, subtle details that might have been missed were discussed, and interesting theories were debated. This was all new to me back then, so it enhanced the whole viewing experience for me.
I discovered TCF during Lost--a friend kept coming to work with all this info I had missed after it aired. He gave me the link and I have ended up enjoying all my shows a lot more since, but especially Lost. (And GoT) Thanks, guys.
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Old 09-20-2013, 07:11 PM   #22
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It seems like the show wouldn't have been nearly as good if they had stuck to that original outline. Instead, you had a fluid story that was always evolving. I can see why some people are upset because the producers kept on insisting that the whole thing was mapped out from the beginning. It doesn't bother me, though. All that matters is the end product, and in my mind, Lost remains one of the greatest stories ever told on television.
While watching LOST, I always felt like it would be best if they had plotted out the whole show from Day 1 and then just filled in the minor details as they went. So when it started to become obvious that the show wasn't fully planned, I was disappointed. I felt the same way about Battlestar Galactica when it clearly went off the rails.

But listening to the Official Breaking Bad podcasts recently, it's helped me realize how fluid the storytelling is on TV shows. Vince Gilligan is one of the best serialized TV writers ever, and even he constantly talks about how important is is to keep your mind open to various possibilities. Even with this final season of Breaking Bad, the writers took a lot longer to "break" the season than they thought they would. I think Vince said they took about 4 weeks per episode just to break the story, and that didn't even include the actual writing of the episode scripts. Most shows, especially on broadcast, don't have that kind of time and can't be that detailed in the plotting of the stories. But to think that any TV show can decide on Day 1 how the plot will develop and what will happen is completely naive to how TV shows are actually made. It would be a major mistake for a creator to write a show and plan it all out and think that his vision is the best that could possibly be and not be open to new ideas and new directions that are pitched to him in the writer's room.
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Old 09-20-2013, 07:27 PM   #23
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Not to mention the things you just can't control, like actors leaving the show, which may necessitate big changes in story mid-stream.
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Old 09-21-2013, 10:18 AM   #24
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People won't let it go. Lost was a fun ride like a roller coaster, but it was just that a ride like a roller coaster. It didn't go anywhere, but was a lot of fun along the way.
It was fun for the first couple of seasons, but then the roller coaster went off the rails and nobody had a clue what was going on. I've never seen a series that had to have so many recap episodes just so the viewer could try and sort out the mess they made. The writers would introduce crap and then simply drop it from the storyline.

It started off great and really got my interest so I stuck around for the long haul. The last couple of seasons were such a bungled mess that it was hard to understand what was happening. The ending was such a major disappointment that it totally pissed me off. It made me wish I had never wasted my time watching the show for the entire series.
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Old 09-21-2013, 12:26 PM   #25
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It was fun for the first couple of seasons, but then the roller coaster went off the rails and nobody had a clue what was going on. I've never seen a series that had to have so many recap episodes just so the viewer could try and sort out the mess they made. The writers would introduce crap and then simply drop it from the storyline.

It started off great and really got my interest so I stuck around for the long haul. The last couple of seasons were such a bungled mess that it was hard to understand what was happening. The ending was such a major disappointment that it totally pissed me off. It made me wish I had never wasted my time watching the show for the entire series.
I really liked Lost, A LOT, but I have to admit, if they hadn't done the "last week's episode" just before the "this week's episode" I would have been totally confused. The "last week's episode" had those comments at the bottom explaining things, pointing out Easter Eggs, connections and in general untangling the mess. Many people hated thise comments, but I liked them a lot, for clarity.

On the DVD, was there an option to include them? I always assumed that if you bought the DVDs, you could turn them on and off at will.
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Old 09-21-2013, 02:48 PM   #26
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The problem with Lost, one of the best TV series ever, is that by introducing and telling the stories of Jake & his bro in detail in Season 6 they made 90% of what transpired the 1st 5 seasons irrelevant or greatly diminished. Why it's still great is the soap opera of the characters' lives and interactions. Oh, and Kate.
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Old 09-21-2013, 03:42 PM   #27
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They didn't have a plan, so what? I liked the show for what it was, not because someone said that they knew where they were going with the show.
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Old 09-21-2013, 06:34 PM   #28
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I've never seen a series that had to have so many recap episodes just so the viewer could try and sort out the mess they made.
How was that the show's fault? Honestly, that was the network's fault, for looking at the audience the way Ronald D. Moore does: that they're morons that have to have everything told to them over and over.

That's probably thing I always loved (and still love) about Lost: it treats the audience as intelligent human beings and doesn't coddle. Sadly, ABC couldn't handle that. None of the networks can, that's why cable is winning at this point.

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Old 09-21-2013, 07:28 PM   #29
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Reading about the characters, we had always heard that the original plan was to kill Jack off in the pilot. According to this document, that wasn't the case.
Bear in mind that this was written after they had finished the pilot.

Apparently, the network forced them to change their mind on that plan before filming began.
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Old 09-21-2013, 09:13 PM   #30
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How was that the show's fault? Honestly, that was the network's fault, for looking at the audience the way Ronald D. Moore does: that they're morons that have to have everything told to them over and over.
You pretty much just described the vast majority of the viewing public. Obviously the network must have felt that the show was so confusing to the average viewer that they had to be told what was going on because there was no way anyone could figure it out on their own.

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That's probably thing I always loved (and still love) about Lost: it treats the audience as intelligent human beings and doesn't coddle. Sadly, ABC couldn't handle that. None of the networks can, that's why cable is winning at this point.

Greg
How does it treat the audience as anything but confused? Some of the smartest people I know watched that show and most of them were scratching their heads trying to figure out what the writers were trying to portray while in their drug-induced stupor. I've seen the writers and they look like some serious throwbacks to the sixties.

One of the best shows ever? Definitely not. One of the most disappointing, perhaps. Don't get me wrong because I got sucked into watching the show just like everyone else and enjoyed it immensely, at least up to a point. It's like the writers just said f*@k it and decided to just start making ***** up just to confuse everyone. The storyline got so disjointed and out of whack I almost gave up on it. I hung in right up to the last episode. Unfortunately, instead of feeling closure and satisfaction for a show well done all I could think was that there went five years of TV watching I'll never get back.
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