Aug 2010 26

by Damon Martin

Charlie: “Guys…where are we?”

The line that gave everyone the first clue that “Lost” wasn’t your average every day television drama. Sure, it started out looking like a typical TV show as a man woke up in a jungle, not knowing exactly what happened, and as he wanders through the trees and brush, he discovers that the plane he was riding on just minutes before had crash landed on an island He rushes to the scene to see all of his fellow passengers terrified of what they’ve just endured, and he immediately starts to help and lead those hurt and injured away from the burning debris.

In that moment, J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, and Jeffrey Lieber had captured an audience and many of those same people would follow the tragedy and triumph of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 as they found themselves on an island that was anything but a normal tropical paradise for the next six years.

September 22, 2004 was the debut of the popular ABC drama “Lost” and up until the May 23, 2010 date in which the show ended, fans were enthralled in the mystery and intrigue that the creators, along with executive producer and eventual co-show runner Carlton Cuse, encompassed on an island that was one part drama, one part science fiction, one part love story, and ultimately a battle between good and evil.

Co-creator Damon Lindelof stated in several interviews as the show moved along throughout six seasons that the people that started the process on “Lost” always had a grand scheme in which the show would pay off, and while a great many fans were left wanting more when the final episode aired, the people behind the wildly popular cult hit got exactly what they wanted out of the show.

Of course, Lindelof wasn’t completely correct about the show’s course always going in one direction.

Dr. Jack Shephard, as played by former “Party of Five” actor Matthew Fox, was the lead in the show and the character that woke up in the previously mentioned scene as he rushed in to save his fellow passengers when they found themselves stranded as a result of a plane crash. In the original script for the show, Shephard (as played by Michael Keaton, who the creators had discussed coming on for a short run on the new show) was the person who would originally be sacrificed to the island in a dramatic scene just 60 minutes into the show’s debut episode.

Eventually, Keaton didn’t end up taking the part because as ABC executives read over the script they realized that the character of Dr. Jack Shephard would simply be too important to get rid of after only an hour on the show, and thus Keaton turned down the role and it was passed along to Matthew Fox.

Locke: That’s why you and I don’t see eye-to-eye sometimes, Jack — because you’re a man of science.
Jack: Yeah, and what does that make you?
Locke: Me, well, I’m a man of faith.

At the core of “Lost” was a cast of characters, all of them flawed in one way or another, but somehow they came together to stay alive on this island that they all ended up on.

John Locke, a paraplegic, who regains the ability to walk when he lands on this mystical place, and has an odd connection to the forces that the island possesses. He is, as in the dialogue above, a man of faith. He believes that the island is something greater than just a random place that the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 landed on. He knows there is something greater out there, and he’s determined to find out what it is.

On the other side of the coin is Dr. Jack Shephard, the so-called “Man of Science”. A neurosurgeon by trade, Shephard is a realist and doesn’t see the island as anything more than just an island. He takes over leadership of the group as he moves from plans of rescue, to plans of survival.

Fans fell in love with Charlie Pace, a struggling musician and heroin addict, who continuously looks for redemption on the island, all the while falling for pregnant and alone Australian Claire Littleton. Kate Austen, a fugitive from the law, who becomes the lead female character on the show. Sawyer, a grifter, who is as mistrustful as he is conniving, but becomes one of the most popular characters during the show’s six-year run.

Sayid Jarrah, a former Iraqi Republican guard member and interrogator, Hugo “Hurley” Reyes, a lottery winner, who believes he’s cursed, Jin and Sun Kwon, a Korean couple stranded on the island with no way to communicate with others due to an obvious language barrier, and all the way to Benjamin Linus, who may go down as one of the best characters in TV history as a savoir one day and a devious, diabolical mind behind much of the misery of these crash landed survivors.

Many more characters were featured throughout the series, and they all played an integral part in the mythology and revelation that happened throughout the show’s 121 episodes.

Jack: “If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.”

As the show carried on there were a few things that were evidently clear all along, but only discovered in small passages. Every person on this island had a connection to someone else that was on the plane, and everyone was haunted by something in their past that led them to Oceanic Flight 815, and eventually to the island that they would call home for the next several weeks.

Lindelof and Cuse had always said the show was about the characters, and not about the backdrop, which was the island in which they crash landed. The emotions that these people are torn through over the course of six seasons is really what the heart of “Lost” was all about. Birth, life, death, and every emotion possible in between. They were all major components in what “Lost” captured in every episode, and ultimately what made people truly care about the characters they were watching in the show.

The creativity in which Lindelof and Cuse, along with other writers on the show once Abrams exited, was brilliant in the sense of how they created a completely new mythology in and around this island, in and around these characters, and rarely did anyone get a clear cut answer, but everyone tuned back in week after week to find out exactly what in the world was going on.

From Jacob to the numbers to the Dharma Initiative to the Others to the Man in Black to Richard Alpert to time traveling bunnies, “Lost” had a way of simply sucking everyone in, confusing the hell out of them, and yet they always came back for more.

Locke: They’ve attacked us, sabotaged us, abducted us, murdered us… We’re not the only people on this island and we all know it!

To try to explain “Lost” to someone that had never watched the show would be like trying to teach someone how to play Mozart on the piano in one lesson. The complexity of “Lost” is what made the show so great, and so addictive.

When history talks about the greatest programs to ever be on television, shows like “The Sopranos” and “M.A.S.H.” will always be mentioned, but now with the show wrapped and finished for good “Lost” will likely occupy a similar slot among the best ever.

Sure, people complained about the ending, and even more people complained about questions that were never answered, but didn’t just about everyone wonder what happened to Tony Soprano as he ate onion rings and Journey blasted in the background, and then the show simply went to black?

The mystery of “Lost” is what made the show so great, and as the sixth and final season are released on DVD, and the complete 37 disc edition of “Lost” are compiled into one collection, everyone that used to watch the show will likely go back and watch again, and a whole new generation of fans will sit down and get enthralled like the masses did back in 2004.

Desmond: I’ll see you in another life, brother.

Why did we get Lost in the first place? So that we could get lost again, and again, and again. It’s a show that will be ageless because all great storytelling is ageless. A great story has the ability to draw you in, and that’s exactly what “Lost” accomplished. It’s a rare feat in television, but this show surely did that.

Lost: The Complete Sixth and Final Season and Lost: The Complete Collection are available everywhere now.