Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lost: Would you say you have a love-eight relationship?

As part of "Lost" hype week, I point you towards another one of Mo Ryan's epic-length showrunner interviews, this time with "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof, No real spoilers -- a good chunk of the interview is actually about how Lindelof deals with spoilers getting out there -- but I also randomly come up midway through the conversation:

But now it’s very much expected in the fan communities that writers have to listen to them – “You are answerable to me, Kring.”

“And it’s not just the fans, it’s the critics who carry water to the fans. And I think the best critics are fans. That is to say, they approach their job as a fan. That doesn’t mean they like it or dislike [a particular show], but they’re fans of television.

“So you were at last year’s [‘Lost’ session at the critic’s press tour - more on that here] in January – I felt like it was a Senate hearing. When Alan Sepinwall started firing up on us, I literally expected the [TV] graphic of ‘Sepinwall, Newark, R’ [like you’d see in a congressional hearing]. It was unbelievable.”

I was the one [sarcastically] suggesting a flashback of Jin’s high school reunion.

[laughs] “That was a good one.”

But you don’t understand – the thing about that session, everybody said that was a really good session. People cared. The critics in the room were really engaged. That’s not always the case.

“I know. Sepinwall is great. He’s just a pain in my [butt].” [laughs]
Working on both my column for tomorrow's paper and my blog post for tomorrow night. I'm psyched. Can you tell that I'm psyched?

(Update: Someone in the comments asked if I had a link to my blog entry from that particular session in January. I can't find it right now, so after the jump I'm going to reproduce two passages from that session's transcript where I asked the sorts of questions that Damon was no doubt referring to.)
QUESTION: Question for the producers and I guess maybe for Matthew. I'm wondering why whenever Jack is placed in a position where he can ask things of The Others, he always asks such terrible questions? I mean asking Juliet what she and Ben talked about doesn't seem that useful either to him or to us.

DAMON LINDELOF: Since Matthew is not responsible for what Jack says, he has to unfortunately in some cases execute our best version of it. As writers, the questions that the characters are asking on the show is always a slippery slope. We find ourselves saying, "We'd be asking much better questions, too." Unfortunately, if Jack asked the questions that we wanted him to, The Others would answer none of them. So you would just have him asking a string of questions with Michael sort of looking back at him stoically, which probably would not be that interesting to watch. He asks the questions that at least he has an opportunity of getting an answer out of them.
And
QUESTION: If I could follow on what you just said about the reasons why Jack and Kate and Sawyer were all taken to the island, do you feel like you've explained -- obviously, Jack was there to do surgery on Ben, but why did they have to take Kate and Sawyer?

CARLTON CUSE: Ben took Kate and Sawyer because that was part of the manipulation that he felt was going to be necessary in order to convince Jack to do the surgery. He couldn't force Jack to do the surgery without creating what he felt was a situation in which he would be able to manipulate Jack into sort of agreeing willfully to do the surgery.

QUESTION: Is there a reason he couldn't have, way back when, before The Others started killing people, just wandered on over and said, "Hey, welcome to the island. I hear you're a spinal surgeon. I've got a tumor. Could you help a brother out?" Why does it have to be that convoluted?

DAMON LINDELOF: Well, I suppose there's certainly -- you know, there's certainly a point to be made for that version. But I would argue -- no offense to your writing skills -- that that version is considerably less intriguing for a mystery show. You know, the reality is, you know, if, when Kate was first stitching up Jack, you know, she's like, "Who are you?" he's like, "I'm a spinal surgeon. I've got some hardcore father issues. I don't think I'm going to be a good leader," and she's like, "You've got father issues? I blew up my fucking stepdad," you know -- then it would have been like, "Why even do the show?" because everything's right there.

15 comments:

rukrusher said...

Alan, do you have a link back to your column or posting from that session?

garth said...

Gosh that was a great episode of the Simpsons.

I mean really, banana bread?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, do you have a link back to your column or posting from that session?

No, but reload the post for a recreation of the salient points.

jim treacher said...

"Unfortunately, if Jack asked the questions that we wanted him to, The Others would answer none of them."

So show that! Isn't it better to make them look like shifty, evasive creeps than to make the ostensible hero of the show look like an idiot?

Alan Sepinwall said...

So show that! Isn't it better to make them look like shifty, evasive creeps than to make the ostensible hero of the show look like an idiot?

I don't disagree that Jack usually looks like an idiot.

That said, elsewhere in the same press conference, Lindelof talked about how they would sometimes write and even shoot the sorts of information-sharing scenes the fans always clamor for -- say (and this is my sugggestion, not his), Sayid telling Hurley about his adventures at The Flame -- and that "whether you take our word
for it or not, we think they don't work; they're incredibly
boring."

Stef said...

You both have good points! :-)

I'm almost finished with my rewind, just in time. And Damon's last point there really strikes what I've been feeling again... that ultimately LOST is a show entirely populated with people with major Daddy issues. Almost every single main character - with the exception of Juliet (so far), and Ana and Libby (who we don't know enough about) - either has major Daddy issues or has issues about being a Daddy himself. There's some serious psychology going on in this bunch!

jim treacher said...

Right, I'm not saying they should give us all the answers, but the hoops they jump through to avoid having anybody ask a sensible question...

olucy said...

Slightly OT, but if you have Lost fever, be sure to also check out Ken Levine's blog. Alan's blog links to it. Pure Ken.

Dave Sandell said...

I saw that Watcher column earlier and was scared to read it. Are there spoilers in his review?

Dark Tyler said...

Think about David Milch apologizing for the surfing show [‘John From Cincinnati’]. He would never do it. It’s insulting to a writer to apologize for your work. That’s the kind of writer he is – David Milch is like, ‘If you didn’t get it, [too bad].’

Yes.


Awesome interview, overall-- I really like Lindelof. (For the record, though, I agree with jim treacher on this specific thing. It can be done, Lindelof.)

Nicole said...

Why did he make you a Republican? I would think a more apt analogy would be a Democrat grilling an obfuscating Republican administration.

Anyway, part of the problem is that they didn't have an overarching plan until the last part of the third season, and sometimes you can tell that there really isn't a point to some of those things. Now that they tell us a "plan" is in place, they can retcon the weird stuff in the next few seasons.

Freckles said...

Did anyone watch the pop up video version of the season finale?

It was actually kind of fun.

Also, the commercials for Lost featuring Sawyer and Locke were awesome.

OMG, I am so psyched.

Freckles said...

Alan, those questions were great.

Lindelof's answer was hilarious. I think there are better reasons that Ben couldn't just ask Jack nicely. But Lindelof didn't come up with one of those just then.

jim treacher said...

"Why did he make you a Republican? I would think a more apt analogy would be a Democrat grilling an obfuscating Republican administration."

Because Democrats never obfuscate...

dez said...

^Of course not! We don't know the meaning of the word "obfuscate."

Or "fight back," for that matter.

(We're all about "change," however.)