Handicapping The Odds On The Plot Of Damon Lindelof's 1952
Ah, Damon Lindelof. A true writer's writer, who cares so much about his craft that he can't possibly tell you anything at all about whatever it is he is currently working on. When he and Carlton Cuse officially took over the reins of "Lost" the show became as mysterious as its narrative, with the co-showrunners playing mindgames with fans for years. Or, flat-out lying, depending on how much stock you placed in their canned answers during interviews and press tours. Then Lindelof moved on to blow Ridley Scott's mindhole with the non-Alien-but-totally-Alien script for Prometheus, and the two proceeded to clamp down on plot details being released, making each new trailer and video clip something to pick apart for clues. If J.J. Abrams likes to ask What's in the box?! without ever opening it, Lindelof prefers to answer with more boxes each time you open one until you're lousy with opened boxes and no idea how you got to this point. Frankly, he's as much a drug dealer as he is a storyteller, which is why some of us will keep coming back to him until we OD on unknowable enigmas. Dying in the street like so many Edgar Allan Poes.
And now we come to his next project, the mysteriously titled 1952. There is literally (yes, literally literally) no concrete information as to the plot, but Lindelof will produce and the exceedingly awesome Brad Bird (Iron Giant, The Incredibles, M:I4) will direct so you know whatever they do will be imminently watchable. Curiously, Lindelof is co-writing the script with Jeff Jensen, who once brilliantly, hilariously, obsessively recapped "Lost" for Entertainment Weekly under the moniker of Doc Jensen. Those recaps were wild with theories and ideas that extended beyond the television show into philosophy, metaphysics, super science, myth, religion, and more allusions to literary fiction than you can shake a squirrel baby. Having an experienced screenwriter like Lindelof focusing that energy into a functioning screenplay will certainly be interesting, no matter what they come up with. So, we've got watchable and interesting. But I think we may be able to dig a little deeper and figure out just what 1952 will actually be about.
Off the top of my head, the only thing I know about 1952 is that was the year my mother was born -- great, and now I need a new PIN for, like, everything. But did you know you can search for years in Wikipedia and get a list of big, world-wide events for that year? Perusing the entry for 1952, I discovered several entries that ought to raise eyebrows. One of them is in the header photo, but let's take a look at the most interesting ones and figure out how likely we are to see a movie about them within the next few years. Shall we? We shall...
Year 1952 (MCMLII) was a leap year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar.
It's catchy, but not much of a story.
Plot Chances: 25:1
Tagline Chances: 100%
January 14 -- Today premieres on NBC, eventually becoming one of the longest-running television series in America.
Potentially a fun mix between Network and Radioland Murders, but more of an Aaron Sorkin gig than Lindelof.
Plot Chances: 500:1
Reference Chances: 3:1
February 6 -- George VI (King of the United Kingdom and her dominions, of Canada, of South Africa, of Australia, of New Zealand and of Ceylon) dies aged 56 after a long illness. He is succeeded by his daughter The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, who is on a visit to Kenya. She is simultaneously proclaimed Queen of Canada at Rideau Hall, Ottawa, Ontario.
February 7 -- Elizabeth II is proclaimed Queen of the United Kingdom (and her five other Commonwealth realms) at St. James's Palace, London, England.
An updated take on Elizabeth about the current Queen of England would be great, but again, it's not really in Lindelof's wheelhouse.
Plot Chances: 10,000:1
Reference Chances: 5:1
February 26 -- United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill announces that the United Kingdom has an atomic bomb.
Definitely something Lindelof would be interested in, but we're still in England and he also tends to have a larger scope than a single country.
Plot Chances: 10:1
Reference Chances: 2:1
March 20 -- The United States Senate ratifies a peace treaty with Japan.
World changing? Yes. Scintillating drama? Probably not.
Plot Chances: 200:1
Reference Chances: 50:1
March 22 -- Wernher von Braun publishes the first in his series of articles titled Man Will Conquer Space Soon!, including ideas for manned flights to Mars and the Moon.
Oooh, now we're cooking with grease. The sudden ability of man to travel into the cosmos is absolutely something Lindelof would delve into. Especially if there's a way to fictionalize a mission to the Red Planet.
Plot Chances: 5:1
Reference Chances: 100%
April 4 -- West Ice accidents: During a severe storm in the West Ice, east of Greenland, 78 seal hunters on 5 Norwegian seal hunting vessels perish without a trace.
April 26 -- The United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Wasp collides with the destroyer USS Hobson while on sea exercises in the Atlantic Ocean, killing 175 men.
Ships lost at sea are a drama no-brainer, see also: Titanic, Poseidon Adventure, and The Perfect Storm. But this would more likely tie into some sort of larger story.
Plot Chances: 75:1
Reference Chances: 8:1
May 6 -- Farouk of Egypt has himself announced as a descendant of prophet Muhammad.
Nope! Not even "South Park" can go there, anymore.
Plot Chances: Does not compute.
Reference Chances: 100,000,000,000:1
July 19-26 -- Washington D.C. is "buzzed" by several alleged UFOs tracked on multiple radars. Jets scramble on several occasions and the objects take evasive action, only to return after the jets leave the area.
Now that is a Damon Lindelof movie. At least, it's a likely jumping off point.
Plot Chances: 2:1
Reference Chances: 100%
November 1 -- Nuclear testing: Operation Ivy: The United States successfully detonates the first hydrogen bomb, codenamed "Mike", at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean, with a yield of 10.4 megatons.
November 4 -- The U.S. National Security Agency is founded.
The space age and the atomic age seem to go hand-in-hand, especially where Lindelof is concerned. Throw in the conspiracy possibilities involved in NSA and you've got yourself a stew going.
Plot Chances: 15:1
Reference Chances: 5:1
November 20 -- A fireball crashes in a backyard in Havelock North, New Zealand.
The lack of a source implies enough mystery to set a Lindelof script around, but again I'd imagine this would tie into a larger framework than as the dominate narrative.
Plot Chances: 100:1
Reference Chances: 10:1
November 25 -- Agatha Christie's murder-mystery play The Mousetrap opens at the Ambassadors Theatre in London; as of 2007, it continues next door at the St. Martin's Theatre, and remains the longest continuously running production of a play in history.
Not exactly something I'd associate with Lindelof, but the mystery element may be too hard for him to pass up. Perhaps a movie that tells the story of the yearlong preparation for the play? Naturally, there would be some sort of mystery about the production that needs to be solved, too. A sort of And Then There Were None meets Noises Off!.
Plot Chances: 3:1
Reference Chances: 500:1
Of course, I could be totally wrong. What say you, any ideas?
Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here (if you're into that sort of thing). Honestly, he doesn't know a damn thing about odds or handicapping.