Friday, December 30, 2016


In 1961, meteorologist Edward Lorenz entered a microscopically different value into his computer model -- .506 rather than .506127 -- and discovered that it had drastically altered the results of his weather prediction. His subsequent paper titled, "Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?", officially coined the term "the butterfly effect." It is the theory that small events can have significant consequences.

What were the butterfly effects in LOST?  What little change(s) had dramatic effect(s) on the series.

1. The rework of the pilot episode. It was the most expensive pilot produced at the time. The network was going through management changes. It decided to fire the original writer to put the project in the hands of new Hollywood golden boy, J.J. Abrams, whose show runners made a few changes to the script and filmed the first show.

If the regular production company was in charge of the series, the emphasis would have changed from being a Jack leadership role back to Kate being the lead character. It would have been more a show about survival than a supernatural/mystery series.

2. The two-show story arc of Ben's character. Ben was only supposed to be a guest character for a two episode arc. It was to show how the island would change the 815 survivors into dark killers. It was thought that after Sayid went to find the balloon crash site, and learned that Ben was not Henry Gale, Ben would have died at the hands of the castaways. It would have been a commentary on the nature of normal human beings in pressure situations. But since Ben's evil character was so good, he was written into the rest of the series as the villain.

If Ben's character was killed off, the Others series arc would have less meaning and would have probably ceased in a short time. It probably would have truncated the Widmore involvement in the story as his main rival was Ben.

3. The use of flashbacks to tell the back stories. One complaint during the series was that the characters would not ask each other basic questions or want to learn information about missions, etc. If the production team let the characters converse with each other to pull out information, secrets, motivations, etc., the series would have had a different feel and story progression. It would have been more one to one dialog driven shows than the action adventure sequences.

Many believe the flashback technique was used as "filler" to keep the series main story line from collapsing or it was a means to save production costs by using more interior sets.  But when the reliance of flashbacks ran its course, the show runners did something significant to keep the format alive: invented "flash forwards" which led to the slippery slope of the illogical sideways universe story arc.

4. Locke being able to walk on the island. If Locke remained handicapped and in his wheel chair, his character would have never been able to be the fantasy outback survivalist. If Locke remained physically unable to run around the island on missions, his character would have quickly fallen to that of a beach extra.

But the action of giving Locke a "miracle" recovery on the island (as well as a cure for Rose's terminal cancer), it set off a series of theories about the special properties of the island. But it also led to the growing complaints that the writers were not explaining the miracles or supernatural elements. This led to fans breaking into their own story camps and heated arguments on the premise of the show (whether it was real; characters in purgatory; or just all a dream).

Friday, December 23, 2016


Another plane crash survival television series is about to hit the airwaves. But this time, it is in South Korea.

The Korean web entertainment site, dramabeans, reports that network MBC’s new mystery drama Missing 9,is about to take off by introducing audiences to the nine plane crash survivors who must fend for themselves on a remote island.

Sound familiar?

The teaser opens with a plane suddenly plunging into its descent. Inside the luxurious private plane, oxygen masks dangle from the ceiling and passengers hang on for dear life as water surges into the cabin. Viewers will then meet the first passenger, “leader" Jung Kyung-ho (One More Happy Ending), who plays a has-been pop star who used to lead an idol band, but is now barely hanging onto his celebrity status. Though he’s hit rock bottom in his career, he finds the strength and determination to lead the other stranded victims in their fight for survival.

Sounds like the Jack character in LOST.

Next,  Kim Sang-ho (Bring It On, Ghost) plays the President of talent agency Legend Entertainment, and Oh Jung-se (Beautiful Mind) as the loyal Manager to Jung Kyung-ho.  

Sounds like one of the LOST couples, maybe Sun and Jin.

Chanyeol (To the Beautiful You) plays the handsome “superstar,” a renowned artist/composer who used to be in the same band as Jung Kyung-ho, but found greater success as a solo musician.

Sounds like the jealousy character, like the anti-Charlie.

Choi Tae-joon (Flower in Prison) assumes the mantle of the Troublemaker and plays the former bandmate of Jung Kyung-ho and Chanyeol, who ventured into acting following the band’s fallout and was enjoying his second career boom.

Sounds like the Sawyer character.

Lee Sun-bin (Police Unit 38) plays the top celebrity of Legend Entertainment. She’s the "Princess" character, who doesn’t mince words, but hides a dark secret.

Sounds like Shannon.

Tae Hang-ho (Moonlight Drawn By Clouds) plays the Head Secretary of Legend Entertainment, and Ryu Won (Uncontrollably Fond) is the mature and accountable billboard model and Hallyu star, and also the group’s “Outsider.”

There were plenty of outsider characters in LOST, but mature and accountable fits LOST's Rose.

Lastly, Baek Jin-hee (My Daughter Geum Sa-wol) taking on the role of Jung Kyung-ho’s rookie stylist and eventual love interest who becomes the sole remaining survivor of the nine, ergo the only “Eyewitness” to the devastating plane crash and its aftermath. The country will turn to her for answers, but how much of the harrowing truth she’ll reveal is uncertain because there’s something holding her back.

Sounds like the Kate character.

The show's teaser copy reads, “Top Star x Private Plane x Emergency Landing,” ending with “9 survivors, a mysterious corpse, and just one eyewitness.”

Local critics don't think the series will get much attention when it airs. There were alleged casting and script problems prior to launch.  Korean dramas often use large casts to push several different story lines forward. So it not unusual to cast 9 main actors.

But the premise is very similar to LOST with the exception that the Missing 9 characters actually know each other prior to the plane crash. That may be the only real story twist as the celebrity back stabbing and secrets get unraveled on the island.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


IN the Wizard of Oz, the main characters were seeking something important in their lives: a heart, courage or a brain. The journey to resolve a character deficits was part of the LOST process.

What was the one thing lacking in each of the main character's make-up? What was the one thing that they were desperately looking for?

Locke: family.
Hurley: courage.
Kate: responsibility.
Ben: control.
Jack: true love.
Sayid: purpose.
Shannon: acceptance.
Charlie: sacrifice.
Michael: direction.
Walt: parental love.
Sun: acknowledgement.
Jin: wealth.
Claire: understanding.
Boone:  protector role.
Sawyer: accountability.

Did the series give the main characters opportunities to find what they were looking for? Yes.

Did all of the main characters achieve what they were looking for? No.

Character motivations are powerful tools in story telling. But they mirror the motivations of real people in real life. Series like LOST should give the viewer pause to ask the powerful questions:

What was the one thing lacking in each of your make-up? What was the one thing are you desperately looking for? What is your wish?

Saturday, December 10, 2016


More than a decade after its debut, LOST still has not been successfully copied into a new series.

It had a large ensemble cast. It has a deep, twisted and confusing story lines. It was filmed mostly on location in Hawaii. It was expensive to produce.

There are critical favorite shows with large casts like the Walking Dead, but part of the show premise is to have enough "red shirts" to keep the killing drama moving forward. A game of zombie brain musical chairs can only last so long. There are newer shows like Westworld which attempt to sprinkle mysteries and fan theories in the first season, then hurry to try to answer all of them in the finale. It seemed rushed and pushed to hold fan interest.

One of LOST's own rewards was that the viewer had to figure out what the writers refused to answer in their stories. For example, why would the U.S. Military or Dharma "give up" the island with infinite power to the Others, the natives? But we learned that there are no "native" people on the island. Everyone was brought to it by the island guardian, Jacob. And was Jacob a god, an alien, or a monster? Like an abandoned child, a viewer had to come to their own terms on why the show forced a "happy ending" for the characters in lieu of solving the deepest mysteries of the island, like why some much time and attention was placed on ancient Egyptian mythology.

In one respect, the characters personalities and back stories were fully developed by the use of the flash back story technique. However, the back stories were created to be "filler" to slow down the original island story which was a very simple premise of the plane crash survivors creating a new Robinson Crusoe (ironically rhymes with Rousseau) community on a dangerous island. But once the producers ran out of back filler, it jumped its own production shark with the "flash forward" idea and then to the fantasy aspects of illogical time travel and an alternative character universe.

If you have a deck of a dozen main characters, a dozen secondary characters and a hand full of evil characters, you can deal many different conflicts with ease. So the producers rolled the dice with the idea that you build up conflict through mysteries then quickly shift gears without resolution to the next mystery or conflict. The treadmill story telling became is own genre.

One of the reasons LOST has not been copied is that viewers today have shorter attention spans. There are more competitive forms of entertainment literally at people's finger tips: social media, YouTube, Netflix, etc. Network television's "must see" nightly viewing is a fossilized media dinosaur. The burn rate for new shows is high because advertisers only want to support hit shows. So complex dramas with large casts are not in favor because it is felt such a show is too much of a burden on the viewer to digest and cling to for more than a season. Just look at Vine, the six-second video site that drew millions of pre-teen followers, recently bit the dust.

And consumption of television has changed. A segment of the population enjoys "binge" viewing shows. LOST is not the type of show that lends itself to binge viewing. During its original run, the week between shows was a welcome time to try to figure out what the hell was going on between the characters. The search for easter eggs, arguments for/against fan theories, and the interaction in chat rooms is what made LOST special. To try to binge view LOST today for a first time viewer would be cruel and most likely turn into a train wreck. Most would bail on the program before Ben arrives on the scene.

It is really hard to write something "new."  Many people are looking to find different shows to break the entertainment rut. With the internet and U.S. cable operators expanding to international shows from Mexico, Korea and Europe, viewers can get something different in the dramas that are based on unknown cultures or unknown foreign folktales. For example, a very popular Korean drama series, The Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop, airs on KBC World in the U.S. It is a light K-drama that has a large cast of characters but it focuses in on the dynamics of seven different relationships and how they interact between traditional and modern Korean values. For American viewers unfamiliar with traditional Korean culture, it is something beyond the traditional American drama formula. To get something different in your entertainment palette, you have to expand your notion of what you should view (and get over the possibility of watching a program while reading English subtitles).

There were times that subtitles would have been beneficial in LOST. There was a marginal attempt to annotate episodes in an attempt to draw in new viewers when the show began to wobble, but it was mostly an annoying attempt to generically back fill answers to unimportant questions. LOST will continue to fade into history because it is not suitable for syndication or reruns. It will probably go down in television history as one of those "one hit wonders" like in the music industry.