Posts Tagged ‘TV’

Sadly, another good thing comes to an end. Or should I say two, because as much as I will miss the program that spawned this enjoyable nonsense, I will equally miss listening to The Official Lost Audio Podcast to hear what hints, subterfuge and downright silliness would be improvised by writers/executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, AKA Darlton.

In the six seasons since “Lost” began, Damon (the one not wearing trousers) and Carlton (the one with the banjo) have put aside time between intensive writing, producing and editing to produce just slightly fewer podcast episodes per season than there were episodes of the show, each running about 20 – 30 minutes.

Ostensibly, each podcast supported the upcoming episode, which Darlton would “pre-hash” after rehashing the previous one. After dispensing with those topics in a few minutes, the remainder of the time was spent answering viewer’s questions. Or, to be more accurate, not answering them at great length, at least not in a way that would leave you feeling any more informed about the main issues than you were before you played the podcast, although you might have enough of a hint to form a theory that may or may not have any foundation in Lost canon. The closer viewers came to asking a real question (e.g. Who is the man in black? What is the smoke monster? Will Kate end up with Sawyer or Jack?), the more subterfuge was delivered, and the most you could hope for was something along the lines of “That is a good question”, which was an implied wink, maybe.

Viewers soon found it more rewarding to ask questions of less import. Each question provided the lads with a subject to riff on, which was the real raison d’etre of the podcast. Why doesn’t Sawyer know who Anakin Skywalker is? – Answer: He did not want to ruin his “StarWars” experience by watching the prequels. Questions were answered that no one asked. For example, did you know that the name of the shark with the Dharma tattoo is James Ezra Sharkington? Or how to play the Politburo game, by looking at a photograph of Russian politicians to see how far away they are standing from the premier, and then determining who would be executed next. (Damon: In our house we played Monopoly). Questions that Darlton assumed the program had already answered were also fair game. One viewer’s season five question about where the polar bears came from was answered by pointing out that Sawyer and Kate were imprisoned in bear cages in season three. Who brought the bears? Dharma brought the bears. Enough about the bears already.

As serious as these guys were about creating a unique television experience, they seemed to be just as eager to have some laughs at its expense. No one appreciated more that season’s two and three were bulked out with filler, the unavoidable cost of having a hit show in the states. The writers had a beginning, middle and end. What they didn’t have was a timetable, but they did have an undefined number of seasons to fill at 20+ episodes a season, an issue that was only resolved during contract renegotiations at the end of season 3. Darlton didn’t mind rubbing their own faces in the superfluous Nikki and Paulo, who they were still fielding questions about in season 6, or the fact that nobody gave a rat’s about how Jack got his tattoo, and how that may have been one of the worst Lost episodes of all time.

On the flip side of this protracted storytelling was the real possibility that “Lost” could be cancelled, especially with the ratings dipping in the second and third season. So the lads concocted a back-up plan where the world’s oldest orangutan, Joop, who could conveniently talk, revealed what the show was all about in the last scene if the show was cut short.

Of course, “Lost” wasn’t cancelled. Some people left after the first season or two, but a central legion of fans kept the momentum going. Darlton continually used their podcast to show gratitude to those fans. Even as the momentum picked up with the later seasons, and critical recognition and approval swung back their way, Darlton were more concerned with doing the best job they could for the people they worked for (i.e. the fans) than they were with critical approval or awards, as heard in the following example from early in season six:

Carlton: Damon, what would you have said to me if I had told you in season two that we were going to France to accept an award?

Damon: I would have turned to you and said, ‘OK Carlton, what happens if they don’t push the button?’

At the end of the last podcast, Darlton were asked what their favourite moment was. It was a difficult question – they came up with two answers. The runner up was the episode with both their mothers, each making their case for Sawyer to choose them over Kate. The one they went out on was an extended sound bite of Carlton and Damon laughing uncontrollably at an answer they had just given. Thanks guys. That is exactly how I want to remember you.

Advertisements

Remember when “Lost” was a about a group of plane crash survivors trying to get off an island? How quaint. In it’s fifth season, a core group of characters came unstuck in time, travelling back and forth between decades, and finally settling in the 70s, which they attempted to wipe from history by detonating a hydrogen bomb over a pocket of electromagnetic energy. Or perhaps they were still just trying to get off the island.

Either way, reality was ripped in two, and season six started with most of the major characters living double lives, literally as well as unwittingly. After eight months of expectation and heated debate, the Cady household watched the season premier, and I noticed that the teenagers were quite bemused. I was soaking up the paradox and they were scratching their heads, ironic since their synapses are supposed to be firing a lot more quickly than mine are these days. Whatever they had imagined they would see, “Lost” seemed to be going in a completely different direction. How typical.

Maybe you noticed something similar in your house, or maybe you were the one who roared, “first time travel, and now this?!”, to no one in particular. If “Lost” seems even more confusing and disorienting than ever, then maybe a few familiar frames of reference will help get you back to your comfort zone.

If fictional time travel has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t muck around with the past. The ramifications of such an action were explained by Doc Brown in “Back to the future Part II”, in which old Biff, in 2015, steals a sports almanac from 1985, then travels back to 1955 and gives the almanac to young Biff who proceeds to make a killing in gambling on sporting events to which he already has the results. As Doc Brown explained to Marty, using nothing more elaborate than a chalk board, this creates a divergence in the time stream starting in 1955, resulting in time branching off into a separate, parallel reality, in which Biff kills Marty’s father, marries his (Marty’s) mother, and owns Hill Valley. Simple, right?

Another example of the ramifications of mucking around with the past was demonstrated by the well known explorer and philosopher Homer Simpson. Some of you may remember his pioneering work in time-travel technology when he repaired a toaster in such a way that it allowed him to travel back millions of years, at least until the toast popped up. You may also recall that the seemingly insignificant act of swatting a fly resulted in Christian fundamentalist Flanders becoming the supreme leader of the world, or at least of America, which equates to the same thing in the mind of many Americans.

So you see, while “Lost may have upped the ante, there’s nothing here that hasn’t been touched on in other serious works of speculative fiction. If you still need help finding a comfort zone from which you can relax and enjoy the E ticket ride, try repeating this mantra:

“Lost” is only a TV programme.

It’s a great one, but it is only a TV programme.