Thursday, October 06, 2005

Lost without a plot

And now for something completely different.

My girlfriend (who is both wise and beautiful) sent me an e-mail a while ago mocking the first two episodes of Lost that have aired so far this season. I'm reposting most of it here, because it's too damn funny not to share.

Some background: we both loved the first half-dozen or so episodes of Lost. It has a great premise, fine actors, a novel setting and it set up some great mysteries in the first few episodes. One of our favourite scripts was written by David Fury, late of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and other fine shows.

Well, David left. The mysteries showed no sign of being resolved. Ever. The scripts started showing signs that the writers were actively resisting revealing any information. Characters concealed things from each other for no reason, didn't bother to question strange events, and otherwise began acting like morons. Executive producers JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof relentlessly hyped every disappointing episode like it was the second coming of Robert A. Heinlein. We, the viewers, became embittered by about episode twelve or fifteen.

Here, then, is proof that out of bitterness can come comedy.

JJ Abrams: Whoohoo, thank goodness we figured out was in the hatch before the season premiere.

Damon Lindelof: A scottish guy!!! Viewers will never see that coming, and it will totally change everything.

New writing intern: umm, guys! I’m sorry to interrupt all the back patting and high fiving, but I’m working on the script for episode two and I have some questions.

JJ: Fire away young apprentice! And remember, this year’s motto “Everything happens for a reason!”

DL: That motto is so great! With a motto like that people will totally be able to see why Lost is the best television drama ever!

Intern: Right. Well, it’s great that there was a Scottish guy in the hatch, and that he has some weird connection to Jack.

DL: Jack is the most heroic and admirable character you’ll ever see on television. Viewers will not believe the amazing twists we have in store for Jack this season.

Intern: So what the writing staff needs is a bit more guidance, like for example who is this Scottish guy, why is he in the hatch, and what affect or connection will he have with the rest of the characters?

JJ and Damon stare blankly at the intern. The sound of crickets chirping can be heard faintly in the background. After several awkward moments JJ burst out laughing and points at the intern.

JJ: Good one kid! You really had me going there, expecting “answers” to all those complicated “questions” Seriously, if we gave you that much information now, you’d have enough to go write four...maybe five seasons worth of episodes.

Intern (counting to ten in his head before speaking): Well what should I do for episode two then?

Sound of crickets...then finally...

DL: Episode 1 totally rocked. Viewers must have been completely on the edge of their seat when they saw it. Couldn’t you just make another one that’s like episode one only, you know, different?

Intern: I think the viewers might notice it’s the same.

JJ: No, no...I think Damon’s on to something here. What we should do is go back to the point when we blew the hatch, and then show all that stuff...Kate falling down the hatch, Locke going after her, Jack going after Locke, the big reveal when Jack confronts the Scottish guy...yeah, we’ll show all that stuff again...only...from a different character’s perspective. Yes, and we’ll cut it in with lots of shots of “Wet Sawyer” on the raft, cause that ladies like that kinda stuff.

DL: Me too! Er, I mean, “Wet Sawyer” that really brings in the ratings.

Intern: You mean you want me to make the Hatch plot exactly the same as last week, only show it from a different character’s perspective, and you want me to end on the same note of Jack recognizing the Scottish guy?

JJ: YES! Exactly! That’s what we experts in the writing world call parallel construction. You’ll understand when you have a bit more experience, kid

At this point JJ picks up one of the five emmys his show “won”, and wiggles it in the intern's face.

DL (unable to take his eyes off the statue): Oooh, shiny.

Intern: So which character’s perspective then?

JJ: Kate, the viewers love Kate.

DL: Kate is the best female character ever seen on television. The stuff that happens to Kate this season will totally change everything you ever thought you knew about her.

Intern (sighing): Do you think maybe I could throw in a polar bear attack or something. For umm, the audience members who are less interested in the hatch plot?

JJ: A polar bear? Like a real one?

Intern: Yes, like in the pilot. That episode totally kicked ass, and is the entire reason why I applied to work here.

JJ: And lucky you, after the hasty retreat of twenty other more experienced writers, your dream has finally come true.

DL: I just don’t understand why we can’t keep staff writers. Lost is the best show on television, we won five emmys.

JJ: Now kid, getting back to this polar bear idea. I’m thinking, no. No more “real” polar bears, but how about you throw in a stuffed polar bear somehow. That’ll drive all those loons out there that think we have continuity absolutely crazy. And we need the continuity nerds to keep waging war against the bitterness brigade, otherwise our entire fan base is going to be watching Veronica Mars by November.

Intern (very quietly): I like Veronica Mars. I hear the writers over there have a Show Bible.

DL: Oh, and throw in the numbers, people love the numbers.

Intern: Throw them in how? What do they mean?

JJ: Mean? Kid, you’ve got a lot to learn. The numbers don’t have to mean anything, people just have to think they mean something to give them meaning. Understand?

Intern: No, not really.

JJ: Well, just put them on something, or have the characters say them, it doesn’t really matter as long as they’re in there somehow.

Intern: All right, so just to summarize, I write last week’s hatch plot again, only from Kate’s perspective. I throw in some “Wet Sawyer”

JJ: Makes sure he breathes heavily a lot too. You know, like sex sounds, only have him making them for another reason.

Intern: Okay...and I throw in a stuffed polar bear, and the numbers. Is that all? It sounds like a very full episode, maybe we could drop the flashbacks for this week?

JJ (swinging his emmy menacingly) Kid, if yours wasn’t the last resume left in our selection pile I’d fire you right now for saying that. We are NEVER dropping the flashbacks. They’re our staple.

Intern: So, who should we flashback this week?

JJ (shrugging): Ahh, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter really.

JJ picks up a dart from his desk and throws it at a target on his wall that has all the Lost characters' names clearly marked.

JJ: Michael it is then.

Intern: What would you like the viewers to learn about Michael through the flashbacks?

JJ: Learn...through the flashbacks?? No, no. Just cover something viewers already know about Michael. If we introduce too much new information in one episode viewers will become confused. Oh, and you want to end on a high note so have something really exciting happen in the last five minutes. Don’t make it too obvious though.

Intern: Exciting, but not obvious?

JJ: Make it happen to Jin, off screen of course, and then Jin can come running up to some other characters and start babbling in Japanese about the exciting thing. The other characters, and the viewers, won’t have a clue what’s happening, they’ll just know it’s exciting!

Intern: Jin’s Korean, not Japanese.

JJ: Really? Huh. Well, whatever.

Intern (through gritted teeth): Great. Well this has been informative. Hey listen, you’re both big time Hollywood celebrities, would either of you happen to have Rob Thomas’s phone number?

JJ (pulling a card out of his giant rolladex): Of course, I know everyone in the biz.

DL: Are you going to call him and brag about how you’re working on Lost, the best drama that’s ever been on network television? Winner of five emmys and voted Entertainment Weekly’s choice for hottest drama of the year?

Intern (backing out of the office with the card clenched in his hand like a life preserver) : Yes, yes, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.

As the intern exists, JJ pulls out some silver polish and he and Damon get to work polishing their emmys.

DL: Are we going to work on the scripts for the sweeps episodes today?

JJ: Naw, let’s just shine our emmys.

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