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Feature: Lost

Responding to Events

Mysterious line up…

Writers and producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse talk about the mysteries and meanings of the series

Few fans imagine their moans and gripes about their favorite show make any difference. Complaining on the Internet might be a good way of letting off steam, but most people imagine no one apart from their online friends is listening to what they are saying.

But Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the masterminds behind Lost, not only admit they listen to their fans but they change their plots to make them happy. While the overall structure of each season is mapped out from the start, the pair admit they alter major plot points along the way to try to appease the critics.

“The criticism of the show bounces between these two poles of it being too mythologically dense and not giving enough answers,” says Lindelof. “If we are not getting one criticism we are getting the other. So if people were saying not enough is happening ‘you’re not giving us enough answers’, we decide, ‘That thing we were going to answer two or three episodes from now, let’s answer it now’.

“Then if people are saying the show’s too mythologically dense, and not emotional enough, then we move back to focus on character stories. Then people say they are getting frustrated and so we bounce back and forth between those things. There is never the perfect just-right zone of the show. And that’s where we look to the audience to sort of guide us a little bit.”

But experience has taught them that teasing their audience can also bounce back and bite them, and they admit they have learned from their mistakes. For example there will be no more big announcements of a character’s imminent death.

“We realize that we made a mistake when we announced last year, when Shannon died, that we were going to kill someone,” says Cuse.

“We sort of challenged the audience to find out, and everybody did find out. If you want to go hunt around on the Internet and be intrepid in Hawaii there are people who get our call sheets, and they find out details about the show. We don’t want to ruin the experience for the big mass audience, so we’ve decided that we aren’t really talking about deaths on the show again.”

But that doesn’t mean the body count will drop so that the cast can stop turning to the back page of their scripts to check whether their character has made it through this week.

“Death has to be a part of this show,” says Cuse. “If somebody puts a gun to David Caruso’s head in CSI: Miami, you can be pretty sure that he’s not going to die. But on our show, we really do want you to feel that all the characters are in jeopardy.”

With surprising honesty the pair reveal they have also made mistakes by trying to be too clever in the past. Not everything on the island has a hidden meaning, but they have been left floundering when fans have latched onto something they didn’t expect…

by Jenny Eden

Read the full interview in
Xposé #101

Photo © ABC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Xposé #101
January 2007
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