The 'Lost' Smart Bomb
January 14, 2007 6:12 PM
It seems the producers of “Lost' can also reveal surprise plot twists in real life. Exec producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof just dropped the biggest ballroom bomb of TCA: They’re in discussions with ABC to announce an end date for the series.
This statement comes as a surprise to everybody in the room—including ABC executives.
“It’s time for us now to find an endpoint for the show,' Cuse says. “JK Rowling announced there were seven books in the Harry Potter series and it gives fans [a framework for understanding the arc of the show]. ‘The X-Files’ was a cautionary tale for us. It was a great show that ran two seasons too long. ‘Lost’ has a short-half life.'
In the hallway after the panel, Lindelof says he’s thinking of capping the series at 100 episodes, which would only result in two more seasons. This is highly unlikely, and sounds more like a negotiation salvo, but capping at six or seven seems possible.
Lindelof comes across as smart and self-effacing as one might expect. He’s justifiably haunted by “The X-Files,' another broadcast sci-fi series loved by many fans, only to spiral into incoherence. “When people talk about ‘The X-Files,’ they don’t say how great it was,' he says. “They say how great it was ‘but’ …'
The current wave of criticism about the show bothers him, but he notes “Buffy the Vampire Slayer' showrunner Joss Whedon once said fans tend to gush about the previous season, never the current season.
“Last year everybody hated the start of season two, they hated Michele Rodriguez, they hated the Tailies,' he says. “Now everybody loves season two and hates this season.'
Down the hallway, ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson is having lunch, and seems less-than-thrilled by the producers’ comments. After all, producers don’t cancel shows, network presidents do. He admits he didn’t know Lindelof and Cuse were going to make the announcement, then objected to the term “announcement.'
“Nothing was announced,' he says. “We’ve had those discussions for the past two years.'
The critics, naturally, are in love with the plan, assuming producers follow through. It’s a bold attempt to try to preserve the show’s creative integrity and would give fans (and, just as importantly, the show’s writers) a clear idea where they are in the show’s overall storyline.
Earlier, during the panel, Lindelof gave critics a taste of how difficult it is to write for “Lost.' A critic asked why The Others ailing leader Henry Gale simply asks Jack to perform surgery on him. Why play out such a simple request as an elaborate and manipulative ruse for six episodes?
“No offense to your writing skills, but that version is considerably less intriguing,' Lindelof says. “What if when Kate was stitching up Jack [in the pilot] she asked, ‘So who are you?’ [He says] ‘I’m a spinal surgeon and I got some father issues.’ [She says] ‘You think you’ve got father issues, I blew up my fucking stepdad!’ After that, why do the show?'