Saturday, February 23, 2019

LOST IN PRODUCTION

In a 2017 article, Jeff Jensen wrote that LOST producers were banking on a massive volcano story line to wrap up the island origin of the smoke monsters, but ABC refused to pay for it.

The use of the volcano was supposed to show us how the smoke monster was created, by Jacob throwing his brother into it. In many cultural myths, sacrifices to the gods used volcanoes as part of the worship rituals. The producers wanted to use a temple with the volcano scenes, but ABC balked because creating temples were expensive.

The show did show a temple with very detailed ancient Egyptian signs and symbols. It was the place where the Man in Black took his angry revenge on the remaining Others. This temple appeared to be the root of Jacob's power over the people he brought to the island. Its priest held forth a cult in which the spirit or smoke monster could not enter until it reached human form.

A BBC article stated:

Often cultures have seen active volcanoes as the abode of gods - typically gods quick to anger.

“I think the creation of myths is essentially the human reaction to witnessing a natural process that you cannot explain, says Haraldur Sigurdsson, a U.S. volcanologist  “So you attribute it to supernatural forces and you say it is a battle between the giants and the gods.”

Was the island story a battle of angry gods, Jacob and his brother?

If true, then how could simple human beings defeat them?

The Man in Black, smoke monster, believed he was trapped or imprisoned on the island. Jacob claimed that he was the guardian of the island. Was Jacob the prison guard to MIB? Was his sole purpose not to unleash an evil spirit upon the world? The island was phasing in and out of the Earth realm to be hidden from humans, because they would be drawn into using the evil to destroy the planet?

Was Jacob bringing humans to the island a means of appeasing MIB? Instead of playing ancient board games, the two devised a game using humans as pawns.

But at a certain point, the brothers grew tiresome of their company and their mutual curse of being trapped on the island. For Jacob to be released, he would have to trick a human to become the new guardian. For MIB to be released, he would have to die which is difficult for an immortal spirit.

It is interesting that the show runners and the network were at odds on production budgets to the point where the story had to change. This confirms some skeptics who said the writers were making up the show on the fly. The fly was the network not allowing them to produce their vision.

But would have the volcano story line "solved" the ending issues?

No. Even if the whole general premise was overlaid with Polynesian mythology of volcanoes, gods and sacrifices, it does not explain the sideways world, the parallel universe, the Flight 815 plane crash and the ending in the church.

Friday, January 11, 2019

THE END GAME

The Sopranos, the crime family drama, is having its 20th anniversary. Some reports state that there may be a sequel in the form of a prequel that begins where the original show ended (in a diner with a jolting, quick fade to black).

It was that ending that inspired other creative types (writers and show runners) to mess with their audience. One of the prime directives of a writer is to tell a compelling and interesting story through characters and their actions. There is a beginning introduction, a middle part of conflict and options for resolution, and a climatic ending to resolve the main plot points of the show. Usually, the ending involves the main character learning a valuable lesson or makes a statement on social commentary. In essence, that is the unwritten entertainment contract between show and its viewers. But the Sopranos ending changed that covenant.

The show just . . .  abruptly ended.

It left the world to scratch their heads in disbelief. What just happened? Something was about to happen. What was going to happen?

Then a simmering vent of anger; WTF?

Because viewers spent a lot of time on getting to know the characters, follow the story, "experience" the events shown to them, they felt entitled to a proper ending. That is not to say they are guaranteed a "good" ending.

Viewers fumed because they thought they were "played" by the writers. Or that the writers "copped" out on wrapping up the loose ends of the plot lines so they just decided to leave everyone, including the characters, hanging in limbo.

Hollywood creative types loved the idea of an ambiguous ending. Instead of offending one group of viewers with a creative choice, you can confuse all the viewers with no choice at all.

It gave other shows the license and cover to not wrap up story lines. In a complex, tangential world of LOST, that is how the writers got out of the corner they painted themselves in. Instead of answering the big questions, they punted with a side world reboot to give the main characters a happy ending (or so it seemed). But that made many viewers madder than a hornet. They felt let down, betrayed by a series that they embraced and discussed in minute detail with friends and other fans.

It was like reading a great novel, only to find out that the last chapter is missing.

In today's more fragmented entertainment consumption model (on demand, binge watching), shows probably cannot get away with this type of shocking ending.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

THE HUM

Scientists have been calling it "The Hum."

On the morning of November 11, 2018, a series of unusual seismic pulses rippled around the world almost undetected.

The waves rang for over 20 minutes, emanating about 15 miles off the shores of Mayotte - a tiny island in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Africa. From there, the waves reverberated across Africa, setting off geological sensors in Zambia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.


They crossed the Atlantic, and were picked up in Chile, New Zealand, Canada, and even Hawaii nearly 11,000 miles away, as National Geographic reported the event.  t

Despite their huge range, the waves were apparently not felt by anybody. However, one person monitoring the earthquakes in the US said  live stream of seismogram displays did show the unusual waveform.

The waves were very low frequency, typical of the third phase of a normal earthquake event. However, there were no high frequency waves before this event to signal that an earthquake had occurred in that area.

One speculation is that somehow an island "had moved." How can an island dislodge itself from the depths of the Indian Ocean?

The story has a science-fiction, conspiracy theory aspect to it. In LOST, the island was an enigma. It had unique electromagnetic properties, odd light bending effects and the potential to move both time and space. But is it possible in the real world?

The earth does have a planetary electromagnetic grid. Scientists are aware that this field generation is based upon the physical elements of the planet and its core. Theorists have speculated that this magnetic field could be used to send electricity throughout the globe, or be used as a transmission device for advanced communications. 

But it is possible that the seismic waves were not from the ocean floor plates shifting but from something happening deeper inside the Earth's core. Scientists have made the analogy that the hum was like a bell ringing, and its sound waves circled the globe several times. Typically, a large bell has a striker inside its shell to send sound waves outward. A shift in the molten core could be a possible explanation of the wave activity, in conjunction with another planetary event that experts are watching closely: the probable inversion of the magnetic poles.

Then again, it may have been a signal before the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Alaska.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

FANTASY ISLAND

LOST's island was nothing near Fantasy Island for romance and healthy, healing relationships.

In fact, the time on the island for romance was crude, rude, manipulative and disastrous.

For example, Ben's dog bone was in perpetual heat throughout the series. He was so creepy that women around him did not need their instinctive creepy meter. When he could not hook up with Juliet, he killed her boyfriend. That must happen a lot to psychopathic losers.

Even when Juliet found a partner, he was killed or in the case of Sawyer, manipulative for survival mode after the time skip. It is hard to tell whether Sawyer was attracted to Juliet in the Other's camp, or merely using her to game the system. But in the end, most people think when Juliet died after the Swan implosion, Sawyer was hurt and emotionally scarred by the loss. He started to blame others for the death. He reverted back to his old, con-man self.

Kate was the master love con artist. She manipulated boys throughout her life, leading one to rob a bank just to get back a toy airplane. She hooked up with Sawyer not out of love but as a means of trying to get the weapon to neutralize his advantage in the castaway camp. It seemed that Kate was destined to be lost in love. Her relationship with Jack was doomed from the start. She spent her entire life running away from responsibility and accountability while Jack had the opposite drive as being the miracle surgeon.

One of the most tortured love lines was with Sayid. He claimed, pined and did horrible things in order for him to re-connect with the love of his life, Nadia. But despite those personal vows, he had a quick affair with Shannon before she was killed. How Shannon eliminated the years that Sayid lived for Nadia was illogical.

It was also illogical for Hurley to "find" Libby on the island. She was clearly in the mental institution day room prior to the plane crash. Was Libby there to stalk an innocent, fragile nerd like Hurley - - - for his wealth? The time line is unclear, but it seems Libby was there prior to learning of Hurley's lottery winnings, but after her husband died. It was clear Libby was recruited to come to the island to manipulate the castaways in taking a side during the island control battle. But it still seems that Hurley had more of a connection with the store clerk he lost to his best friend than with island Libby. When Libby died, Hurley mourned but he seemed not have grown by the experience to want to live a normal life.

Locke never had a normal life because he self-sabotaged it. He has a caring, loving relationship with Helen, but Locke ruined it by his deep bitterness toward his parents. When Cooper stole his kidney, Locke's fragile psyche led Helen to demand he cut off contact. But he did not, causing Cooper to push Locke out a window which lead to his paralysis. Even after that one devastating incident, Helen could still care for him - - - but Locke ruined it by going back to his father to try to find answers.

Charlie got the answer he did not expect from Claire when she rejected him (during the time Locke was being helpful toward her new born, Aaron.) Charlie was always in search for a deep family connection, but he was left drifting after his brother got married. He had a one sided crush on Claire, which was crushed by rejection. This led to Charlie believing his life had meaning so he "sacrificed" himself in the dumbest way at the underwater station.

The one pre-existing couple, Sun and Jin, actually broke up during their island stay. There marriage was doomed from the start. She was the neglected daughter of a rich industrialist. He was a dirt poor son of a fisherman. He dreamed of being a wealthy man. Her dream was to be accepted as an equal by her father. When she could not attain that, she tried to sabotage her father's reputation by marrying a common loser. But when Jin suddenly turned into a lackey for money, Sun was once again neglected - - - this time by her husband. Their story line ended in a muddled accident-suicide in the flooded submarine (Jin made the decision to give up his life and die with Sun instead of trying to live to raise their child.)

Did anyone find love and happiness from their island experience? The answer was clearly no.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

HOME SUCCESS

LOST actress Kim Yun-jin has found success in her homeland after a 19 year career outside of Korea.

Kim  returned to her home turf to take the lead role in SBS series “Ms. Ma, Goddess of Revenge.” The story is loosely based on the fictional character of Miss Marple from Agatha Christie’s crime novels and short stories. When LOST finished its sixth season in 2010, Kim was able to secure a spot in the US entertainment scene by starring in another US hit series, “Mistresses.”

In the SBS mystery-thriller series, which premiered Oct. 6, Kim plays a mother seeking revenge for her daughter’s death. After being locked up in a mental institution for killing her daughter, she digs into the mystery to clear her name.

The Saturday-Sunday drama, at its halfway point, is in second place with an average viewership rating of 6.9 percent, trailing behind MBC’s “Hide and Seek,” which has been raking in an average viewership share of 12 percent. Korean viewership tends to increase as the show progresses and usually climaxes in the final episodes.

Though Kim has taken part in local films while pursuing her career in the US, the SBS series is her first return to the local TV scene in almost two decades. At a press event held for promotions of the show, she said it was hard to find time to star in local TV productions as Korean production schedules are much tighter.

“I normally worked four days a week in the US, but since shooting (this series), I have not been able to find the time to do laundry,” she said.

“I have never imagined shooting 20 scenes a day, but everything goes so quickly. I was very worried when I first saw the shooting schedule, but things happened smoothly according to the timetable and I found it truly amazing.”

US network and streaming platforms have been licensing Korean dramas. Netflix created its own Korean mystery variety show, "Busted," which was renewed for a second season. With the success of the film "Crazy Rich Asians," more Asian actors will be cast in more diverse roles. But it also nice to know that some actors can go home to find success.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

LOSTWEEN

It is Halloween.
A time for spooky monsters, dark shadows, scary noises and dirty tricks.

Kinda sums of parts of LOST.

But LOST was never really considered a "horror" show like Dark Shadows or even Twilight Zone. LOST is mentioned most as "a character driven drama." But there would have to be several asterisks to that definition as LOST tried to weave science fiction, fantasy, romance and comedy into a witches' brew pot of plots.

We did not have a spooky monster, but a smoke monster. When it first appeared, it was rash, violent and brutal in its path of destruction.

We did not have a spooky character, but Ben was very creepy. We got a small does of "ghosts" with the apparitions of Jack's father wandering the island and Michael being trapped in the end as an island spirit.

There were a few dark shadows, people who had an evil intent behind their relatively nice demeanor. The freighter ship captain at first seemed like a typical sailor driven to get the job done. But he turned into a psychopathic hoodlum who murdered Alex with ease as he tried to coax Ben from his hiding spot.

The Others were always hiding in the jungle waiting to pounce. When our castaways were fleeing danger, the sounds of thrashing leaves and haunting back ground music were eclipsed by the booming base cry of the smoke monster on the verge of an attack.

Everyone seemed to be up to a dirty trick. Sawyer never stopped be a con man. Kate always tried to manipulate herself out of trouble, using the men around her like sacrificial chess pawns.

So one could stitch together a Frankenstein fable for many of the elements of LOST. Perhaps if LOST was truly a pure horror drama, it may have had a much different ending.



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

NEW ENDING

Author Maria Robinson wrote, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

It is very difficult today to do a show like LOST: a large cast, remote location shooting outside Hollywood studio gates, and a long run to develop and execute a complex story structure. Today's audience is not as patient. We live in a world of instant gratification and quick swipe destruction.

Traditional American TV networks (CBS, NBC and ABC) have lost their grip on the vast majority of viewers. Current network shows are recycled sit coms and spot dramas from the 1980s and 1990s (medical, cop shows, family comedies like Roseanne). Networks do not have the time or resources to re-invent their shows towards a younger audience.

The younger audience does not sit in front of a television set in the family living room. They are mobile, independent loners. With an internet connection, they can search and find their own amusement. The top landing spot is YouTube, where people nearly their own age have their personal channels doing goofy things teens would do if they actually went outside and played in the school yard.

As the networks got bulldozed by cable operators offering a hundred diverse channels, cable itself has also run its course. You may have a hundred channels ported into your cable box, but the choice is becoming more limited as specialty channels can no longer find sponsors. And channels co-owned or operated by major media conglomerates have started to run the UHF business model of re-runs of very old shows to fill time slots.

Cable operators last gasp was the rebellious nature of original programming at HBO or Showtime. But those outlets have now been muscled out of critic's circles by the economic power of the new platform: the streamers like Netflix and Amazon whom are pouring billions into their own original shows. Netflix's model is to run a new series maybe for a season or two, then it vanishes. The idea is to keep subscribers tuned in to "new" shows and movies. It is a disposal approach for a growing disposable society.

Just as LOST was unable to get a syndication deal because each episode was not a stand alone story, current creators have to maximize revenue streams in order to survive the next pitch meeting. It is doubtful that a show like LOST today would be green lit for no more than 12 episodes. Could LOST have been compressed into a 12 episode season? Perhaps, as the tangential filler would have to be discarded and a clearer, tighter premise on the science fiction part of the program would have been the foundation for climax and conclusion. It would have been less character driven and more story driven series. For example, Jack could have been killed off in the pilot (as the original pilot script called for), but he could have appeared throughout the show as a trapped ghost (like Michael at the end). But that presupposes that the show runners would actually make a decision on whether the island was purgatory or time-space pocket of abnormality.

But even in today's smartphone world, YouTube content creators are yesterday's news when SNS feeds are the way to get more followers that social media marketers covet. Twitter and Instagram are the current hot platforms for quasi-entertainment (or more apt, time killing). It seems there is more ambiguous to celebrity wannabe status on those feeds which must strike a chord with Millennials.

If you are a studio head or even a guy sitting in his basement with his laptop, you have to wonder what is the next bit that will be a long term trend. It is like chasing a cat in a cornfield. There will be more misses than hits. But in the current climate, some viewers really do not care. And that could be the end of highly complex fictional storytelling.