14 things we learned from the 'Lost' PaleyFest Panel
PaleyFest is underway, and while television is not my normal beat here at HitFix, there are exceptions. For example, I've been the one recapping "Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." this season, and for the last two years it was on the air, I was also the one who was recapping "Lost."
In both cases, it makes sense because of other interests of mine. I'm fascinated by the Marvel movie universe, and not just as a fan, but also as an example of world-building in mainstream movies. With "Lost," I was a fan. Period. It was a show that hooked me with the pilot, and I watched every episode of the entire run either as it aired or within a few hours.
Sunday night's tenth-anniversary reunion of the cast and creators of "Lost" was, according to tonight's introduction, the single fastest sell-out that the festival has ever had, a testament to just how much of a hold the series still has on the ocean of fans that it earned over the years. It may have been controversial as it wrapped things up, but even the people who didn't like the ending still seem to be chewing on it, and in a world where so much of the media we digest is completely disposable, forgotten before the closing credits are even finished, "Lost" seems to be built to endure.
We'll have some video interviews I conducted on the red carpet for you tomorrow, but for tonight, I just wanted to share some of the moments from the panel. This is different from many of the PaleyFest panels where people are discussing shows that are ongoing and having to tread lightly for fear of spoilers. "Lost" has been off the air for four years now, and since no one announced a comeback movie tonight, there's no real "news" here. Instead, tonight was a chance for the cast to reconnect and for show runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse to stand up in front of 3500 fans at once and say, "We liked the ending, and that's really all that matters."
Paul Scheer was the moderator for the event, which makes perfect sense. He was a tremendously vocal fan while it was on the air, and he hosted and moderated several different major "Lost" events over the years. He spoke eloquently about his own experience of seeing the early "Missing" ads that ABC ran in the months building up to the show's premiere and about how much he loved the show.
Scheer's correct when he says that "Lost" was one of the shows that changed television. It is a landmark in terms of when it happened and how it happened and the ways it engaged a mainstream audience and a cult audience at the same time. It was a fully interactive experience that you could engage with as much or as little as you wanted, and how much fun it was to follow the show down its endless hall of mirrors. "It was the first TV show to make you run out and read a book just because the characters on the show mentioned it."
He talked about how the Internet turned into a free-for-all while the show was on the air. "Everyone had a theory, and everyone who had a theory had a website that was built around that show. Freeze-frames were analyzed like forensic evidence." Many of the people who were upset by the way the series ended were upset because they loved the intricacy of it all, and they wanted it to end up being some clockwork invention that connected in every way. After all, this was a show with time travel and smoke monsters and alternate dimensions that was told using an intricate series of flashbacks and, in a game-changing mid-series narrative shifting of gears, an equally intricate series of flash-forwards.
But for me, the show was an excuse to spend time watching a group of characters that I came to love, and whatever they were doing was fine. The times the show drove me crazy were when I felt like the characters did something for plot reasons and it undercut the character, but that really wasn't often. For the most part, everyone who wrote for the show did a great job of bringing these characters to life, week in and week out.
He brought out Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse to introduce the evening. Damon said, "We debated about whether or not we should show you the real finale," which, of course, got a huge reaction from the sold-out house. Carlton led the call of "Too soon," which got another big reaction. At this point, I feel like "Lost" is a conversation begins with the ending, but the show was so much more than just the last few episodes or the scene in the church. These guys own it. They certainly aren't hiding from talking about it, but this evening was about discussing the show as a whole.