Wednesday, September 12, 2018

ANOTHER LOSTY SERIES

Another season, another network, another LOST-like television series.

This fall, according to the preview and Deadline Hollywood article, the NBC show MANIFEST begins "when Montego Air Flight 828 lands after a turbulent but otherwise routine flight, the 191 passengers and its crew learn that while only a few hours passed for them, the rest of the world has considered them missing—and presumed dead—for over five years. As the passengers try to reintegrate themselves into the world, some of them experience strange phenomena, leading them to believe "they may be meant for something greater than they ever thought possible."

It seems like the LOST pitch without the crash landing on the island.

The showrunners have set themselves up for a high standard of mystery and mythology to pull off a reasonable sci-fi explanation of how a jet plane goes missing for 5 years without crashing or passengers aging. 

It is assumed that the show has to whittle down the main cast from 191 passengers in crew to a hand full of focus characters with the "strange" events surrounding their new lives post-flight. What is strange, what is supernatural, and what is there "new greater purpose" in life seems to take bits of the island guardian and castaways fight to "save the world" from something bad to the main land and the ordinary lives of regular people. 

MANIFEST may or may not be worth watching. The TBS satire, Wrecked, was a train wreck from the start. It was a bad parody and extremely unfunny. It failed on all cylinders.

MANIFEST's producers include Hollywood movie veterans so the quality of the filming could be great, but even the best production values cannot save a poor script or plot.

MANIFEST premieres in late September.

 


Friday, August 3, 2018

TAKING LIBERTIES

Evangeline Lilly made her break-out career role as Kate in LOST. However, she recently stated that there were difficult parts during filming the series, according to an interview in a recent podcast (and reported in the New York Post.

Lilly played a strong, spunky, wild child character who would get a second chance to erase her past on the island. But since this was her first credited role as an actress, she did not have the clout on the set.

She said that being new to Hollywood meant that she was not comfortable enough to speak up when she felt pressured, and that led to some very upsetting shooting conditions.

“In Season 3, I’d had a bad experience on set with being basically cornered into doing a scene partially naked, and I felt had no choice in the matter,” Lilly said on the podcast. “I was mortified and I was trembling, and when it finished, I was crying my eyes out and I had to go on and do a very formidable, very strong scene thereafter.”

That wasn’t the last time Lilly was forced to undress on camera against her wishes. “In Season 4, another scene came up where Kate was undressing and I fought very hard to have that scene be under my control and I failed to control it again. So I then said, ‘That’s it, no more. You can write whatever you want — I won’t do it. I will never take my clothes off on this show again.’ And I didn’t.”

Losing control of her bodily autonomy wasn’t the only thing she didn’t like about LOST as the show progressed and started to focus more on a love triangle between her character Kate and the male leads Jack (Matthew Fox) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway).

“I felt like my character went from… having her own story and her own journey and her own agendas to chasing men around the island and that irritated the shit out of me,” said Lilly. She added that she “did throw scripts across rooms when I’d read them because I would get very frustrated by the diminishing amount of autonomy she had and the diminishing amount of her own story there was to play.”

In today's #METOO environment, one would assume most of the directors would be less pushy in putting actors into uncomfortable positions. On the other hand, Hollywood has been for centuries a cesspool of power plays and taking advantage of actors.

It is also interesting to note, that she states that her character's story changed during the series into a love triangle story line which she did not like. It is another piece of evidence that the show runners and writers had no direct, clear path of the main story lines. They would change on the fly to meet the demands of the network or ratings. Some fans wanted to see a romantic element between the main leads. But did that really improve the story?

Lilly believes it diminished her character's story which was one of running away from her family problems, the lack of responsibility in her life and her manipulation of men for her own means. Her character never got truly punished for her misbehavior. Her cuteness was a defense. She used it to her advantage, but not as a means to find love. Even her marriage to the Florida cop was more a convenient cover than true love. She was lost because she grew up without unconditional loving parents. All of her relationships ended badly. Why would she want her character to change midway through the series to become a cliche fluttering heart girlfriend?

UPDATE August 6, 2018:

Creators and executive producers JJ Abrams,  Damon Lindelof, Jack Bender and Carlton Cuse issued a joint statement apology for the alleged problems on the show, which ran on ABC from 2004-2010.
“Our response to Evie’s comments in the media was to immediately reach out to her to profoundly apologize for the experience she detailed while working on Lost,” the statement read. “We have not yet connected with her, but remain deeply and sincerely sorry. No person should ever feel unsafe at work. Period.”

Saturday, June 30, 2018

FLEETING FAME

Yahoo News reported a bizarre incident involving a LOST cast member.

Evangeline Lilly was en route to do press for the new sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp, in which she shares equal billing with Paul Rudd  when the encounter occurred.

“I was walking onto the plane and this talent scout was like, ‘Oh my God, for a minute there I thought you were Julia Roberts. Does anyone ever tell you you look like Julia Roberts? You could be a model. You could be an actress,” recounted Lilly. “I’m like, ‘Oh, well, that’s very nice of you.’ And she’s like, ‘No, that’s what I do. I’m a scout. I manage talent. And I think you have potential. I’m telling you, you could have a career if you wanted a career [in entertainment].”

Lilly never let on that she did already, in fact, have a very successful career in film and television  “I had to delicately turn her down and tell her I wasn’t interested in the industry.”

The talent scout, meanwhile, may never know that she had tried to recruit a Marvel superhero. Lilly, in her mind, could be the one who got away. “If only I could have signed that girl, I could have made something out of her. Instead she’s just gonna wallow away in her tiny life,” Lilly laughed. “[She’s] never gonna know she could’ve been the first title female character in the MCU.”

Friday, June 8, 2018

LOST AS A TERM OF ART

In a recent WIRED article, the writer uses the LOST franchise as a term of art.

The reviewer of HBO series "Westworld" said his problem was not that thw show would not be enjoyable, but that it was that it’s the kind of show that invites obsession. The kind that presents Big Questions—that never get answered. - - -   essentially, that it was going to be the next LOST.

LOST began to get viewers to deep dive into episodes to find clues. Apparently, Westworld was trying to accomplish some of the same tricks of the old ABC series. It started with logos . . . do they mean something else?

In the episode, "The Riddle of the Sphinx,"opened with a montage: James Delos (Peter Mullan) is in a finely appointed modernist apartment. He walks through what appears to be his morning routine: drinking water, smoking a cigarette, getting in a few minutes on a stationary bike. All the while, he’s listening to the Rolling Stones’ “Play with Fire.” If the scene felt familiar, here's why: It's just about exactly how Lost introduced Desmond at the beginning of Season 2. (Yes, Season 2! The same season in which Westworld currently finds itself.) In that montage, Desmond made a smoothie, typed a series of numbers into a computer and pushed “the button,” and got in a few minutes on a stationary bike—all while listening to another 1960s hit: Cass Elliot's "Make Your Own Kind of Music."
The reviewer reminds those that don’t remember,  LOST ended almost exactly eight years ago, on May 23, 2010. And, after six seasons of giving its audience diamonds-in-the-sand clues involving hieroglyphics, philosophy (there’s literally a character named John Locke), flashbacks, flashforwards, smoke monsters, and 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 (aka “The Numbers”), most of those hints led exactly nowhere. The ending was satisfying in its way, but most fans still to this day throw up their hands in frustration when asked what it all meant. (Seriously, if you didn’t watch and want to feel good about all the time you saved not doing so, Google “unanswered Lost questions.” It was a lot of setup without a lot of payoff and was frankly a little annoying. 
The reviewer concludes with "But.

 That show also changed the way a lot of us watch TV. It taught people to look for clues, to not take everything at face value, and to not always assume that narrative answers would be spoon-fed to them. And in that regard, it was revolutionary.

So LOST has now become a turn-of-art meaning, its own genre in the televisions universe. When a show that does not want viewers to passively "follow" the story as presented, but challenge the events seen in real time to see if they make sense or mask some hidden meaning. As a story telling template, LOST will endure as a quirky, frustrating, roller coaster of tangent plots, red herrings and Machina moments that will drive obsessive viewers crazy. And maybe in an era of instant smart phone gratification and a ten second twitter attention span, TV needs obsessive shows in order to survive.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

FATE WORSE THAN HELL

One of the theories about LOST and its quirky sci-fi story line inconsistencies was that the characters were not "living" in a real world environment, but part of some grand experiment or alternative world (through technology like networking brains of coma victims).

Science may be catching up to some wild fiction.

The Daily Mail (UK) reports the scientists have kept alive pig brains outside of the body for the first time as part of a controversial new experiment. The radical experiments could pave the way for human brain transplants and may one day allow humans to become immortal.

The report suggests to ethics experts that any experiments to reanimate dead brains could lead to humans being locked in an eternal "living hell" and enduring a" fate worse than death."

That's according to Nottingham Trent ethics and philosophy lecturer Benjamin Curtis who made the comments in light of controversial experiments on pig brains.

"Even if your conscious brain were kept alive after your body had died, you would have to spend the foreseeable future as a disembodied brain in a bucket, locked away inside your own mind without access to the sense that allow us to experience and interact with the world,' Curtis said. "In the best case scenario you would be spending your life with only your own thoughts for company.
'Some have argued that even with a fully functional body, immortality would be tedious. With absolutely no contact to external reality it might just be a living hell. To end up a disembodied human brain may well be to suffer a fate worse than death."

Last month, Yale University announced it had successfully resurrected the brains of more than 100 slaughtered pigs and kept them alive for up to 36 hours.

Scientists said it could pave the way for brain transplants and may one day allow humans to become immortal by hooking up our minds to artificial systems after our natural bodies have perished. 

In LOST, viewers were conflicted about who, what, where and how the main characters were interacting with each other on an island that was not an island (where the laws of physics and smoke monsters roamed). Immortality was seen through Jacob, who shipwrecked as a baby on the island during Roman times. The Man in Black appears as an immortal smoke monster savagely imposing judgment on humans. Even the character of Michael appears to be trapped as a "whisper" on the island as a soul that cannot move on in the after life.

The idea that LOST could have been merely a network of reanimated brains now has a thread of truthful basis in current science. And the nightmare of being trapped on an island hell is what Mr. Curtis alludes to in his criticism of the experiment's potential outcome.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

CULT OF THE GODS

One of the main background themes to LOST was the temple and the clear Egyptian artwork that told the stories of Death and the Afterlife.

In ancient Egypt, it was believed that a person's soul would travel a dangerous journey through the underworld. It would be tested and a final judgment would be made if it would reunite with a body in heaven. It was said that the soul would be weighed against a feather by the god of the underworld. If the soul was heavy with sin, then the soul would be condemned to hell.

So Egyptian kings and queens and royals were buried in elaborate tombs and temples to "help" them on their afterlife journey. They were buried with gold and jewels to bribe ferrymen across the River Styx. They were buried with food and wine to sustain their souls on the journey. They were at time buried with their servants who would serve and protect them.

Egyptian rulers believed that they were gods from the stars. That there final place was to return to the heavens.

There are some who believe that there may be more truth in that myth.

The ancient Egyptians built thousands of years ago the largest free standing masonry structures in the history of the planet. Massive stone blocks were moved, placed and perfectly aligned to the stars. In modern times, the largest stone supported skyscraper was 10 stories. In ancient Egypt, it was 23 stories. Modern engineers still do not know how ancient people with stone and bronze chisels could move and lift 10 ton blocks to create the massive pyramids. Even with today's heavy industrial equipment and cranes, it is doubtful that we could achieve such structures.

So the mystery of how the pyramids were constructed is joined in the religious attributes of its creators. If the ancient kings were in fact aliens from another planet with advanced technology to move large stones with ease (which would show their great power and "magic" over the human race), then our own perception of history would be false.

Beyond Egypt, there were other ancient cultures who built massive pyramid structures in harsh climates and locations. Those ancient engineers also had a detailed and accurate grasp on astrophysics and hydrodynamics to built temples and water systems which could sustain a population of more than 50,000 (which is a huge amount in ancient times).

One explanation is that our ancient forefathers were a lot smarter than we think they were. We, today, think we have the most knowledge and savvy because of our own education, experience and accomplishments. But our ancient relatives were more tuned to nature and its properties since they were more dependent on direct interaction with nature than we are today in a our processed economies. After more than tens of thousands of years of trial and error, our forefathers could have developed technology to move large stones with ease - - - something completely lost on us today.

This is not as far fetched as you might believe. In the dark middle ages, much of human knowledge was lost (it was kept alive by monks writing manuscripts). Much of the great ancient inventions were lost in the great fire of the Library of Alexandria.  Those inventions may have included the first computer, navigation devices, the first automatic door and water fountains. Recall, inventors around the time of the Roman empire were magicians who entered the royal courts with fancy machines and usual feats of mechanical engineering. Leonardo had concepts of flying machines and modern tanks.

So ancient temple priests may have been the magicians of their time because they had superior knowledge. Knowledge equated to power. While much of human thought was harnessed in order to create the next superior weapon for conquest and defense (which is even true today), such knowledge could have been applied to solve the mysteries of life after death.

The pyramids could have been the launch pads for the exploration into outer space. Observation decks to the heavens or portals (physically or metaphysically or interpretive) would have been the quest of the powerful rulers who wanted "immortality" as their legacy.  All major religions believe in some form of afterlife. The ancient Egyptians may have tried to find the pathway to the afterlife and bring it into their present.

Likewise, LOST's island could have been a metaphor of the quest for the pathway to immortality. A weigh station along the underworld journey of lost souls trying to reach a final judgment; to release the burdens, sins and regrets attached to their human souls. The guardians of the island were like the cults of kings who oversaw the graves and temples of ancient Egyptian rulers. They stood guard over the buried souls so the living could not disturb the dead's journey. In the LOST story line, "outsiders" like Widmore wanted to come to the island to disrupt the guardians and to take the island's power to their present. It is that grave robber dynamic that pushed the guardians, including Jacob, to recruit his own army of "followers" (including the 815 castaways) to defend the island against the likes of Widmore and his kind.

Friday, April 13, 2018

RANDOM FODDER

 One of the issues in LOST's narrative was the apparent continuity errors. Some were viewed as production issues, others as easter eggs. In a very random exploration, let us discuss a very minor Other named Jason.

Jason was a minor  character who, on numerous occasions, aided Pickett, Ben and Ryan Pryce on various tasks against the 815 captives. He was once termed one of the ten trustworthy minions of Ben. Even though he was in the midst of several missions against the 815 captives, he did seem to be slightly different - - - he appeared to have a conscious.

During Season 3, he was first seen assisting Other named Michael in the Hydra operating room as Ben tried to convince Sawyer that he was in control. Jason told Sawyer to bite down on a stick to manage the pain while he held him down during the operation (which allegedly included planting a mini-bomb in his chest which turned out to be a hoax) and at the time Ben discussed Sawyer's fate at the Hydra Island lookout point.

Jason also assisted Jack at Colleen's funeral.

When Ben in surgery with Jack, Jason tried to convince Pickett, who was assisting, not to leave the operating room to go kill Sawyer. Jason went with Pickett to the cages, but instead of killing Sawyer, Pickett and Jason were beat up by Kate and Sawyer and left in the cages. Once they got out of the cages, they went to the beach to try to capture Kate and Sawyer, but they were unsuccessful.

Jason was one of the men who raided the 815 beach camp. Jason survived the initial ambush explosions to help capture Jin, Sayid and Bernard. As they were lined up on the beach waiting execution by Pryce, Hurley drove the van through the jungle striking the Others. Sayid tripped up Jason to the ground, then broke his neck to kill him.

However, several days after Jason's beach death, he is seen at Richard's camp. Ariston Green, the actor who played Jason, admitted in an interview that he was the person in that scene.

It was probably a production issue where the director needed background members and Green was available. But some would think that the producers and director would have known they killed off a character before this shot - - -  which could lead to viewer confusion.

But one of the oddities of series was the strange "reincarnations" of certain characters on the island. Patchy was the prime example as the mad Russian got killed several times over but seemed to reappear to take revenge on the castaways.

But Jason reincarnation could have been a "reward" for not being purely evil, but just a foot soldier taking orders. That view would give the show at a least a partial moral fiber to the actions and consequences of some actors. If you have some morally positive attributes, you could be saved from final judgment or given a second chance in your island life.