The fine folks over at /Film had a great conversation with Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof about a recently leaked document which revealed the original pitch Lindelof, Cuse and Abrams gave ABC about one of TV’s most polarizing shows. The document is quite lengthy so the amazing Germain Lussier boiled it down to the following salient points:
The document claims the show will be self-contained and not have a serialized structure. “We promise.”
It says the show won’t fit into one specific “franchise,” but instead can be many genres, such as a doctor show, lawyer show, cop show or character drama.
Everything in Lost was supposed to have a scientific explanation.
Claims the show will have no “ultimate mystery.”
The mystery of “the monster” would be solved in “the first few episodes.”
Most of the plane’s passengers were never supposed to show up again.
The characters would live in a “primitive Melrose Place” that could be built on a soundstage.
Guest stars would be a part of the show.
Lindelof, who was apparently not stoked that the document was leaked, explained that sometimes creators have to tell little lies to the networks in order to get their shows greenlit. You don’t say. The language Lindelof and company used in their pitch was meant to specifically address some of the concerns ABC had over the completely batsh*t later seasons of Alias. Lindelof explains:
So, per J.J., we made a very specific effort in this document to say we were not going to be serialized, we were not going to be genre and we were not going to do what Alias had done. So even though I think it was our intention to do all of the above, we needed to put that in the document because the document was essentially a letter to ABC saying ‘Here’s what the show’s going to be.’
The whole article is great and a nice insider look into the process of creating a series and, more importantly, getting it to air. Sure, some of the choices Lindelof and Cuse ultimately made were controversial, but I’d much rather the messy show with moments of brilliant emotional honesty over whatever it is that above pitch would have looked like. Without those lies, we wouldn’t have gotten this:
And that would be a shame.