With a post title of "The Interview That Will Restore Your Faith in Lost", you might think that I've actually lost my faith in this show. I have not. But I have to admit, six episodes into the third season, it's definitely slipped a bit farther down my list of "Greatest TV Shows of All Time". Sure, some if it can be attributed to the fact that it's been off the air for the past four months. Out of sight, out of mind.
But it also seems like Lost has lost (pun!) some of its luster recently. More and more people are questioning where the show is going, when we're going to finally start getting some answers, and if there really is an end game in mind, or if we're all just getting sucked deeper and deeper into a storyline that has no conclusion. The frustration is understandable - I've felt it too.
More importantly, I think the show's creators have felt it. All the sudden, they are a lot more talkative about planning the ending to Lost, publicly letting people know, and revealing more in interviews than ever before. It's like they know all of our complaints, and are directly addressing them!
In an effort to help get people jacked up (but not in an annoying Monday Night Countdown sort of way) for the upcoming second half of the third season of Lost, I thought I would post this recent interview with show-mastermind Damon Lindelof I recently stumbled across. It's too chock full of tantalizing tidbits for me to resist commenting on it, so I'll throw my comments in italics after each section. While I don't always agree with what Damon says, it does make me feel that we're in good hands after all. If this doesn't restore your faith in Lost, nothing will.
Q: Is Paulo supposed to be unlikable?
Lindelof: Yes. But hopefully, like any other character on the show, after you learn a little bit more about [Paulo and Nikki], your opinion changes. Or maybe when you learn a little bit more about them, you hate them more. We tell the story about Josh all the time, and it's dead true - ABC and Touchstone did testing on Sawyer around episode 4 of the show, and he was the lowest testing character on the show. People hated him. They thought he was belligerent and obnoxious. Then his flashback story episode aired, and suddenly he's a little kid hiding under a bed, whose mommy and daddy… And suddenly Sawyer shot to the top of the charts. Lost is, as frustrating as this may be, it requires patience, and I think in a society where people don't have a lot of patience, the fact that the show demands that of them… We feel blessed to have the viewership we still have. I would have left the show long ago; I'm too ADD!
Brian: I don't think Paulo is really "unlikeable". I think more than anything, viewers are frustrated with the way that he and Nikki were introduced. It just felt forced, and the characters felt out of place. I'm hopeful that they'll end up serving some purpose, they are more distracting than anything else.
Q: When do you think Lost should end?
Lindelof: Personally speaking, from the word go, it always felt to me like somewhere in the neighborhood between 90 and a 100 episodes was going to be a version of Lost where we never had to do the bad scenes or the stall scenes and back off of the story we wanted to tell. We knew season one was going to be introductions, season two was going to be into the hatch, season three was going to be The Others. I don't want to tell you what season four is going to be, and then there was a wrap up season; a shortened version that would put you somewhere in the neighborhood of a 100 episodes. At the end of season four, we will have produced 93 hours of the show, and I imagine that would be very close to where it would end, I would think.
Brian: This both excites and saddens me. Four and a half seasons really isn't that long, especially when you consider that if this is true, we're at the halfway point right now. Think of all the questions that remain unanswered! Arg!
But the exciting thing is that this also means the show won't drag and truly is sticking to an overall series story arc. Again, if this is true, we're at the apex of that arc, and are about to start the rapid descent to conclusion. To me, this means that if season one was about introduction, season two was about the Hatch and Dharma, and season three is about the Others, then the fourth season must be about "conquering" the Island / the Others / Dharma and finding rescue. There's a lot of options on how this could be achieved (Penny, the Others, Michael and Walt), but the overall theme is going to be discovering how to save themselves - and doing it. That leaves a shortened "wrap up" season to see the characters re-enter the outside world to neatly tie up their storylines.
Q: Have casting and scheduling issues ever dictated stories?
Lindelof: We've been able to realize a version of every story that we've ever cooked, but sometimes when it comes to casting, there are limitations. Like in the case of Adewale [Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who played Mr. Eko], for example, his character was a character that when we first sat down with him, he said, 'I only want to work on the show for a season.' And then we said, 'Well, let's not contractually mandate that, because maybe you'll change your mind.'
After he worked on the show for a season, he said, 'I'm not happy. I don't want to do this job anymore. I don't want to live in Hawaii. My life in is in the U.K. I want to be a film actor. That's what we all agreed on.' And we said, 'You're absolutely right. We did agree on that. Will you give us six more episodes, so that we don't come back for the season and say Mr. Eko just died in the hatch explosion, which everybody would hate. He's a beloved character. We hoped that we could convince him otherwise. But there's a case where an actor's desire to continue to be on the show severely inhibits storytelling.
To be honest with you, Carlton and I would have loved to have told more Mr. Eko stories. But that's a case where real life obviously affects the show. If one of our actors gets sick -- it happens all the time -- you have to write them down [in screen time] in an episode. If one of our actors is coming to do publicity, you have to write them down in an episode. If one of your actors is unhappy with their screen time, legitimately, then you go, 'Oh my god, they haven't been in the show for six episodes in a row.' You say, 'It's time to do their story now.' So that is the ebb and flow of TV writing.
Brian: Here lies the difficulty in doing a TV show. We all wish the writers had unconditional control over all characters and storylines on Lost, but it's a business dealing with real people, and they don't always have it. You have to roll with the punches, adapt storylines on the fly, and make the best of what's around.
In my opinion, having Eko die in the Hatch explosion would have been far more fulfilling from a storytelling perspective than putting him through the lame Polar Bear capture only to have him die at the (literal) hand of Smokey. That is... unless his death somehow brings Smokey back to the forefront, and leads us to an explanation of what he actually is. But if Smokey disappears for the next 15 episodes, Eko's death loses a lot of its emotional impact.
Q: So you still feel 100 episodes is about right for the show?
Lindelof: It feels to me like we're about half way there now, to the end of the show. You guys have seen about 50 episodes. It feels like now that The Others are becoming characters on the show… That has always felt like you're no longer going up the hill, you're starting to go down it.
Brian: We've already touched on this, but it certainly sounds like the Others are here to stay for the duration of the series... either as antagonists, or as people who will eventually merge with our Survivors (just like Survivor!).
Q: What do you say to people who found the first 6 episodes this season to be extremely "punishing," as far as the physical abuse the characters went through?
Lindelof: I think it's a measure of the fact that The Others are an antagonistic force on the island. If they had been nice, and kind, and docile, and sweet with Jack and Sawyer, it would not have told the story that we wanted to do. I think those people that think it was too punishing have a legitimate gripe, but all I can say is the punishment has come to an end, in terms of that story, in terms of the physical battering of it all. The show's always been a violent show. Sayid was torturing Sawyer in season one. Boone gets violently killed. It's just I think that our characters are suffering at the hand of other characters that makes it very, very hard to watch.
Brian: Wow. If I was making a list of the five most violent shows on network TV, Lost wouldn't even cross my mind. Are people really concerned about this???
Q: How can The Others' prison be on another island, when Jack, Sawyer and Kate were seemingly walked there?
Lindelof: They didn't get walked. They got hooded at the end of the dock. Then they woke up this season, having been drugged.
Brian: Precisely. Thus, all of them rubbing their arms when they woke up in the season three premiere. It's been established that there is some sort of "sub" the Others use to get around.
Q: Are you worried about losing some younger viewers now that the show is moving to 10:00?
Lindelof: That was the big downside to the 10:00 period. First off, it's a time switch that we're generally pleased with, because we lose almost 30% of our audience every year once we're programmed against American Idol. To be completely honest, the family audience is that 30%. A lot of younger kids watch Idol with their parents. They TiVo Lost; they get it on their iPods. I do think we're going to take a hit, but the hit will probably be comparable or even a little better than the hit that we always take going up against a show that 27 million people are watching every week.
Brian: To be honest with you, Lost should have never been a popular show. It flies in the face of what the average American viewer wants in a TV show. But don't worry, there is more to life than TV ratings (see: demographics and DVD sales), so there's really no risk of Lost being cancelled. I'm opposed to the move to 10:00 pm because I don't watch American Idol, and I like to Blog about each night's episode before bedtime. It's going to be really tough when the episode isn't over until 11:00. But hey, at least now they can stop worrying about kids seeing all the "violence" on Lost!
Q: Bernard is the only tailie left. Do you wish you hadn't spent so much time on the Tailies stories last season?
Lindelof: No. Because I think all of those stories were incredibly important to tell in terms of how they affected our core cast. Had Michael not been the one to kill Ana Lucia and Libby, that would not have set into motion the series of events that had him and Walt leaving the island. And Michael and Walt leaving the island is the most significant event, secondary to the button not getting pushed and the big purple light. That affected that, so you needed Ana Lucia and Libby to tell that story. So sometimes, unfortunately… Like Boone was a character in service to another character. Boone was in service to Locke. We told Boone stories, but at the same time he was Isaac to Locke's Abraham. So some characters die to serve the greater story.
Brian: Agree to disagree (when in Rome). Killing Ana-Lucia and Libby had nothing to do with getting Michael and Walt off the Island. Saving Ben from the Hatch armory had everything to do with getting Michael and Walt off the Island. Deaths that have made sense from a story-telling perspective:
Boone = sacrifice for Locke
Shannon = created rift between Survivors and Tailers
In a way, killing Ana-Lucia, Libby, and Eko almost cheapens the experience of the Tailers as a whole. Here was a group of people who were savagely picked apart right after the crash, yet these were the "survivors" who beat the odds and made it through to unite with the rest of the Flight 815 Survivors. Then, ironically, they're the next three to die. While Boone and Shannon truly affected the other characters on the show, aside from some fleeting romance with Jack and Hurley, Ana-Lucia and Libby never really did.
Q: Can you say a bit more about feeling the show should go 100 episodes?
Lindelof: When you guys were asking at the very beginning; you'd seen the pilot and said, 'Seriously, how long is this going to go on for? How long can it sustain?' I'd say, 'I can't answer in terms of seasons,' but I have been consistent in terms of saying it's always felt to me like the story is going to last about 100 episodes. In our case, the end of season four is 93 [episodes]. So does that mean it's five seasons or what not. I would not want to go back now and say, 'Oh, now that we're in season three, I think it could go much longer,' because I think that would be duplicitous. I can only answer that question -- how long do I think it could last -- the way that I felt at the very beginning. Because to say now, 'Oh, I've changed my mind about it…' You could go, 'Yeah, but you said back then…! So now suddenly, you think that's there's 140 episodes there?!' And I'd be going, 'Oh, but so many more story avenues have opened up!' No. That's how I felt at the time. That's how I still feel.
Brian: I'm sure ABC had pressured the creators to push the show. I'm glad to the writers are sticking by their guns and their original vision.
Q: Would this be the first time network heads would let such a successful show end?
Lindelof: I guess they would. And the good news about a guy like [ABC President Steve McPherson] or a guy like [Touchstone Television President] Mark Pedowitz, is we all looked at each other at the beginning and said, 'By the grace of God will this show even survive for 13 episodes.' So Carlton and I are now able to sit down with them and say, 'Remember at the beginning when you were having us sit down and convince you that this thing could go on for years and years and years?' And we all agreed it couldn't? Well now, just because it's successful, doesn't mean that's changed. The reality is, they can produce a sixth, or a seventh or an eighth season, but would anybody be watching it? Because the show would be so miserable by that time.
Was it really The X-Files anymore when Duchovny and Gillian Anderson weren't on the show? For me, The X-Files wasn't about 'Have aliens invaded?' It was about Mulder and Scully; a skeptic and a believer. And once that element of the show was gone, the show was over. We don't want to produce those episodes of Lost. In fact, we're not going to produce those episodes of Lost.
Brian: I love Damon's willingness to call out other TV shows that have failed in the past. I think there are a lot of people out there afraid that Lost would end up like X-Files, too caught up in its own mythology and storylines to ever give a resolution. This seems to prove the exact opposite is true. Yes!
Q: Since you said what you felt X-Files was really about, what is Lost about?
Lindelof: This show is about people who are metaphorically lost in their lives, who get on an airplane, and crash on an island, and become physically lost on the planet Earth. And once they are able to metaphorically find themselves in their lives again, they will be able to physically find themselves in the world again. When you look at the entire show, that's what it will look like. That's what it's always been about.
Brian: It's so beautifully simple and heavily symbolic! I love it. Throw out all the theories about purgatory or the world ending, the who point of Lost is simply its title. Characters who are symbolically lost get physically lost - and the show is about them getting found. Crashing on the Island gave each of them the opportunity to escape and conquer the demons in their lives. Sure, there's this mythological Island that serves as the backdrop for the story - but that's exactly what it is - a backdrop, not the star.
For me, this really puts a lot of things in perspective. As much as some of us want to focus on Dharma or Smokey, that's really not what the show is about. Maybe we all need to accept this fact, and enjoy Lost for what it is, not for what we want it to be.
There's also something strangely sweet in the thought that while getting over these demons doesn't actually lead to your death, from a storytelling point of view, the writers have given each character this "release" before their death, helping to soften the blow and make the audience happy that at least they've found their peace. Their bodies die, but now their souls can live on, free from the chains of their prior lives.
Q: Should we then assume that Michael and Walt found themselves, and that's why they were allowed to leave?
Lindelof: The interesting thing about Michael is that he was one of the only characters on Flight 815 who had not committed some horrible atrocity. In fact, he did something good, which was his wife basically took his son away from him, and then the son's adoptive father stuck Michael holding the bag. Michael uprooted his entire life, flew to Australia, to collect Walt, but then ended up crashing on the island. Now he's done something terrible. So his redemption story actually began with the shooting of Ana Lucia and Libby, and will resolve by the end of the series.
Brian: This is a great point - Michael (and to some degree Locke) didn't have any horrible demons from his pre-Island life. Coming to the Island is what caused him to do something terrible. While everyone else has been working on their redemption since they arrived on the Island, Michael is ironically starting his by leaving the Island.
If there was any doubt about Michael and Walt coming in to save the day (with a calvary), I think that's put to rest. That's really the only way for Michael to justify his actions - by saving everyone else.
Q: Will we be seeing more of Bernard and Rose?
Lindelof: We will be seeing Bernard and Rose again. We want to do Bernard and Rose stories, or have Bernard and Rose appear in other stories. But because Sam Anderson and L. Scott Caldwell are working actors -- she's been doing a play, he's been doing TV guest spots -- you have to find that serendipitous moment where both actors are available for the same episode, and then basically say, 'Alright. Now we're gonna do Bernard and Rose again.' At the same time, I felt like if we'd done Bernard and Rose in the first six [episodes of season three], people would cry foul, because it would be like, 'Why are we seeing Bernard and Rose, when we're not seeing Sun and Jin and Charlie and Claire or Sayid; the characters that we're really invested in?' So it's finding that balance of seeing Bernard and Rose, without seeing them at the expense of seeing the characters that the audience really wants to see.
Brian: I'll be honest - I'm cool without Bernard and Rose for a while. With the introduction of the Others, there are a ton of characters on the show I would rather see flashbacks for before round two of Bernie and Rosie. I think I have a good feel for their stories at this point, and am okay picturing them living in the background... that is until they are faced with the decision of whether to leave the Island or not - then it would be quite interesting to see how Rose (and Locke) would handle it.
Q: You used to say ABC could bring in new producers to run the show, even if you and J.J. said you felt the story was over and you wanted end things. That's changed?
Lindelof: I feel we were surprised when we went to ABC and started to have that conversation. Instead of saying, 'Fine, we'll bring in new people,' they said, "When do you think it should end?' And then the conversations began. Obviously they want the show to go for as long as possible. And all we can say is, 'There's a show with us running it and there's a show without us running it. If you want the show with us running it, this is when we think it should end.' And like any negotiation, therein lies the rub. But I think you'll find, if you talk to Steve, that he's become to embrace the idea that the show needs to end. And now the question becomes when.
Brian: Part of me refuses to believe that a network could be this cool about the whole thing. Do I need to change my view of TV executives all being money grubbing evil men with no concern for the story?
Q: When can we expect an announcement on when the series will end?
Lindelof: It all depends. I would anticipate that announcement would be sooner rather than later. Again, you don't want to make it in a way that it seems reactionary. The O.C. saying, "We're going to end The O.C.!" It's like, no, you got cancelled. "We're going to end Alias…' after struggling in the ratings. So the whole point of it is, to say that we're gonna end the show when the show is still thriving… I think that will, A, bring a lot of the audience who left back, to say, like, 'I was wrong! They are gonna give it to me! Whether I like it or not is yet to be determined.' But I don't think the questions the audience is asking are, 'Will the answers they give us be satisfying?', it's 'Will they give us the answers at all?!' And that's a very good question to be asking, because they haven't been promised a seventh book, you know? I'd be asking the same questions.
Brian: More great points. Maybe not so much with the O.C. (has any show went from totally awesome to terrible faster than the OC did?), but I think if the writers could have planned the ending of Alias farther in advance, we would have gotten a much more satisfactory conclusion to the series (more Rambaldi, more Irina, less new characters in the final season!). Planning Lost out might not bring more viewers to the show, but it will let everyone watching it know that there is a method to the storytelling, and they're not "spinning their wheels" or dragging the series on for monetary purposes.
Q: Will we see the characters reassemble and the end of the prison story soon?
Lindelof: I think it's safe to say we will see the last of Alcatraz Island around the ninth episode of season three and then we'll be shaking things up big.
Brian: For those of you keeping track at home, that gives us three episodes to wrap up the Alcatraz storyline. Based on the "Lost Moments", that gives us one episode to see Kate and Sawyer escape, one episode to have Jack remain as the sole captive, and one episode to have all the Others "merge" with the Survivors in some fashion. One way or another, we're going to see all the major characters in one big group by the time the episode ten rolls around. It's pretty clear the writers are done with the split time between the Others and the Survivors.
Q: Since Michael Emerson and Elizabeth Mitchell are here at the TCAs, should we assume that just because the prison story is over, their characters are not?
Lindelof: I will remind you that Maggie Grace showed up at many press events after we killed her character. She was a mensch. But I love Ben and Juliet. They are the face of The Others right now. They are fascinating characters that we still have many stories to tell, so I would not fear their death anytime soon… Although a lot of people hate them and want them to die!
Brian: A lot of people think Ben is a goner in the next episode. I'm not one of them. More on this in my episode preview coming soon...
Q: Will you do a cliffhanger like 'What's in the hatch?' this year?
Lindelof: I don't know if we will ever have a cliffhanger like 'What's in the hatch?' And, you know, the irony of that cliffhanger was, although people were ultimately satisfied with what was in the hatch, all we heard over the course of that summer was how angry everybody was. So that makes us say we never, ever want to have a cliffhanger like that again. Because all we were hearing was how pissed off and unsatisfied, and, 'You shouldn't have ended the season with them looking down in the hatch, they should have gone in there and you should have shown us something, anything.' So that tells us as storytellers we will never, ever do anything like that again, even though…
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 that when we were in season two, everybody hated it. They hated Michelle Rodriguez, hated the tail section stories, wished it was more like season one. Now we find ourselves in season three and everybody's hating that and they wish it was more like season two! And I was like, 'You hated season two!' But that is sort of the nature of things; to sort of reminisce about what it was, on any serialized show.
Unlike 24, which can get progressively better and better season after season, because they don't carry any baggage from the season before. Yes, you need to know that Wayne Palmer was David Palmer's brother and he's the new president. But my wife started to watch 24 last season, and when David Palmer got assassinated, she just thought it was cool. I was heartbroken, because I'd been following this guy for four seasons. But the story owed nothing to it, you know? You have a new threat every year.
Brian: First, it's great to see that Joss and Damon are apparently buddies and talk from time to time. There was a saying back in the heydey of Buffy that said "In Joss We Trust". No matter how weird or how far we thought the plot strayed from what we wanted, it always turned out great in the end (well, most of the time - coughcoughSeason6coughcough). But people also always looked back fondly on the season before, even though they were complaining about it at the time. Lost is no different. One year from now, we'll all be remembering how great Season Three was.
As for cliffhangers, I think the writers have learned their lesson. There's a big difference between a cliffhanger just beginning as the season ends (Season One) and being in the middle of a cliffhanger when the season ends (Season Two). Being in the middle gives you some degree of satisfaction while still letting you wonder what is to come. Ending right at the start is just a tease, and frustrates the viewer as much as it gives them things to ponder.
The writers sem to have learned the lesson. Look for Season Three to end mid-cliffhanger, with the early favorite being the arrival of Penny Widmore and Co.
Q: Is it hard to keep track of the fact that for the characters, so little time has passed, while we've been watching it for years?
Lindelof: No, in fact it's going to become a huge part of the storytelling in season three; that sort of disconnect. We felt the need to remind the audience that was in fact the case with the Red Sox game, and just basically say, 'Here on the island it's just November of 2004.' You know, we just sort of passed Thanksgiving. Here in the world we're actually three years beyond that, so this is something that we're not only keeping track of, but writing towards for sort of a very major shake up coming soon.
Brian: I'm sure some will read into this comment something about the Island being a time warp, where time moves slower / faster than the rest of the world, but I think that's a huge leap that would be very tricky to explain using "pseudo-science", as we have been promised everything on Lost would follow. In my eyes, this more suggests that these characters have only been gone months, not years - and if rescuers were looking for them, they wouldn't be to the point of giving up hope. To me, it suggests that there is hope for a happy ending after all.
Q: Have you thought about doing a Battlestar Galactica type one-year-later leap forward in the story?
Lindelof: First off, that's an amazing show. And if we did it, people would think we were ripping them off, and they'd be absolutely right. It's a very slippery slope, and you have to execute it well, because when Alias did it, it was a complete and utter disaster of unmitigated proportions. When you skip forward in time, suddenly, you have a paradigm on the show -- like The Nine for example -- where all of the characters are keeping a secret from the audience. At least you guys are on in the same boat with Jack and Kate and Sawyer; We're keeping a secret from everybody, together. But the fact that these people were in this bank robbery, that they know about, that they won't tell you about, frustrates people. And when you do a time jump, that's what happens, is everybody on Battlestar knew what happened in that intervening year, but you as an audience are like, 'Wait a minute… F**kin' Baltar is president? When did that happen?' So it can be exciting, but then you have to figure out how to back fill in a satisfying way. I think when Alias did it as an amnesia story, bonding Sydney up with the audience, then the show became a slave to what had happened, as opposed to what is happening.
Brian: Damon makes a great point about the Nine. The best part about that show were the flashbacks in the first ten minutes of each episode. As a viewer, I didn't really care what was going on with each character in the present, only in the past - and that's a problem. Lost succeeds by making us care about both. There's a compelling backstory to each character, but there's also a lot of action going on in the present.
Q: Do you feel battered by different fans wanting different things?
Lindelof: We feel battered, but it's a battering we enjoy. Because, you know, if I only was talking to two reporters right now, as opposed to nine, it would mean that you weren't interested in the show anymore. And I think what's cool about the show is it is polarizing. We're not afraid to anger people. And the thing is, we acknowledge that we have always been writing what should be a cult show, and the fact that it has sort of crossed over to the mainstream… If we basically said, 'Let's start writing something for the mainstream,' then we're doing something different then we were doing in the first place. So all we can do is the show that we know how to do, and what's cool for us. We, all the time, are aware of, 'Wow, this is episode is going to make the sort of die hard geek crowd angry,' because we are die hard geeks. But at the same time, if it's time to do a Hurley story that's sort of slower and funnier and doesn't advance any mythology, and my mom will love that episode…
But if we actually sat down and said, 'It's time to appease my mom,' then you're in a… Well, that's pretty much the story of my life. You put your best foot forward and tell the best story that you know how. At the end of the day, the series, in its totality, is all that really matters. What's really sad to me about a show like The X-Files is how great it was for six years. But we don't look back on that show and go, 'It was great!' We go, 'It was great, but…' And that 'but' is a very, very depressing thing. A show like the original Fugitive ended. It was a massive phenomenon. It went off the air with a 44 share, but they had the balls to let Richard Kimball catch the one armed man and end it! If you can make a case for that then, then why not now?
Brian: It's true. The best indication of good writing and storytelling is when the audience gets mad about what happens on the show. It shows they care, that they are invested, and that they think about your show enough to have a preconceieved notion of where they want to see it go.
Q: You said 24 is your favorite show. Why is that?
Lindelof: What I think is so amazing about that show is, not unlike Lost, it shouldn't work. When you first hear the premise, you're like, 'A show in real time, told over the course of an entire season? It's gonna be redundant. How do you maintain suspense?' Yes, there are things about 24 that drive me crazy. As much as I love the President Logan and his wife story last year, there were times when I was like, 'Get on with it.' But then you get to the end, and it all pays off. So my impression of last season was that it was amazing. But there are certain episodes, where you're like, "Ugh…" I know people have that same experience with Lost. It's because they are devout watchers of the show and it requires that you watch it every week, which means that you hold it to a higher standard. You don't hold a show like CSI to such a high standard, because you can watch it six, seven times a year and get exactly what you paid for. For our show, because we demand utmost commitment, you have to suffer the blows of when people are like, 'I gave you my hour tonight, and I don't feel like you deserved it.'
Brian: My only knock on "24", for all the praise Damon lumped upon it during this interview, is that it is disappointing to hear that the writers don't have an overall story mapped out for each season - they are literally making it up four to five episodes at a time as they go. This results in some pretty huge plot holes that could easily be avoided by a little planning.
Q: What shows or creators influenced you?
Lindelof: I'm a huge David Milch fan. Hill Street Blues was the first pilot that I watched and thought, 'Oh my god, I don't feel like I'm watching TV.' It was so confusing and exciting to me, and I love big ensembles with lots of characters, where the procedural elements of the story were second to who the people were. I remember how exciting it was to get to the end of the episode and realize that Furillo was sleeping with the DA, and that was a twist. And my brain goes, 'Oh my god, the idea that you can do this in a TV show was really, really exciting to me.' Bochco and Milch… David Kelly, another huge inspiration. Those seasons of The Practice, and I think you guys know what I'm talking about, my level of excitement, approaching those shows on a Sunday night at 10:00 and sitting down, not knowing whether the psycho was psycho or not, and the ethics of the storytelling; it was amazing. So those are guys that I really, really look up to.
Brian: Current shows where I don't feel like I'm watching TV include: 24, Lost, The Office.
Q: Will we be seeing more of the plot thread from the Season 2 finale, with the people in the arctic who seem to know about the island?
Lindelof: Not in these first batch of episodes [after we return], but by the end of the season we will be paying off that reveal in a very significant way. I think the idea that Penny is looking for Desmond seemingly, is something that comes into play very significantly in the eighth episode of the show -- our second episode back -- but is a story strand that doesn't pay off on the island until the episodes approaching the finale.
Brian: Bingo. As I said before, if you're going to be in Vegas, bet on Penny arriving for the season finale. They've hinted at how important that scene, as well as the sky going purple are to the overall series which to me mean that the purple sky broke the magnetic barrier around the Island, allowing it to be seen and found - and Penny searching for Desmond is going to be key to the escape of everyone on the Island. For surprise sake, I hope I'm 100% wrong - but from a storytelling perspective, this would be very satisfying for me (that's what she said).
So there you have it. Is your faith in Lost restored? Are you feeling more upbeat about the upcoming spring season, or are you as cynical as ever? Maybe I'm too easily swayed by a few mentions of avoiding the errors of TV shows in the past and the sense of confidence in the storyline that I got from reading this interview (or the Joss Whedon name drop), but I'm mega-excited for the upcoming episodes.
Two weeks from today!