Wednesday, October 31, 2018


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


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.