Monday, October 12, 2015

Lost among ideas

While I was writing my spec pilot over the last month I looked for similar TV shows that might give me an idea or two. The key word is "idea" not "copy".

So I decided on watching Lost, I didn't see it when it was on the network for an amazing 6 seasons. I'm not sure why I didn't watch it,  just didn't want to.

So what's similar to my pilot about two women who were married to the same man (not at the same time) and who inherited the husband's broken-down private investigation business?

Well, probably nothing but I knew that Lost had a mythical thing going for it and I am considering the same, sort of. 

Well, I had read a piece from one of the writers, Javier Grillo-Marxuach. He worked on the first two seasons and gives his own take on how it was written, who wrote it and a lot of neat information.

So how do I get ideas from a TV show very unlike mine?

This is where magic happens. Sometimes.

Whenever I look around for new ideas by watching movies or TV, a funny thing happens. I see something that interests me but rather than copy it, something snaps in my mind that is similar, sort of. And by the end, it's completely different than the idea I thought I was stealing from.

A director friend had a story, he saw Kubrick's Lolita and wanted to shoot his movie to look and feel his movie like Kubrick. But when he made it, it didn't look at all like Lolita. Yet, he was happy that he made his movie like Kubrick. Still says it today.

The idea here, is that just because you watch a movie and say you're going to copy it, you don't necessarily copy it. No two people can make the same movie whether it's a feature or a youtube, nobody makes the same movie.

Back to Lost.

I began to binge watch and really liked the characters, would watch 3 or 4 each night. Maybe that's not real binge watch, but plenty for me.

I made it to the 2nd season and began to wind down, to my thinking, the writers were beginning to wander into any kind of crazy idea that they could possibly find. After all they're on an island with nowhere to go. 

There's a lot of "cheats" in Lost, meaning things like the Black Smoke that attacks people now and then, apparently not anxious to work too hard. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors in Lost, things that occur that don't occur again, or maybe in Seasons 5 & 6.

And the ideas began to become ridiculous after the 2nd season, they catch the bad guy, the bad guy escapes, the bad guy catches some of them, etc, etc. And I never knew why Kate and Sawyer were breaking rocks with other people.

Nobody ever explained that.

But the audience stayed with it.

So my take doesn't mean anything. Then they really pulled out all the stops.


When in doubt, do flashbacks. Or flashforwards (they finally did this in the 4th season). It wasn't long before I began to zip thru the flashbacks for one reason.

It was boring. 

Then something occured to me.

Breaking Bad was a lot better. 


Because Breaking Bad had well developed characters. We were watching entirely new characters, a science teacher has cancer and finds himself becoming a meth lord. You never knew what would happen.

Ironically, when the writers started a new spin-off of Breaking Bad, it didn't work as well. Lightning in the bottle, as they say in Hollywood. Breaking Bad could only be made once and Just Call Sal just didn't work. Same writers.

Whereas Lost lost it's characters and, like most TV dramas, went for the easy way. What's that? Rather than become Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, it went for Young & The Restless.

Soap Opera.

And I don't mean it in a bad way. Just a disappointing way. Just watch a soap opera, their issues are basically the same, someone falls for someone, then unfalls with someone, etc. etc. By the 2nd season, it was a soap.

And the best actor in "Y & R" was Eric Braeden. I even met him once. For us boomers he
was better known as a German captain in the 60's TV series Rat Patrol, about combat in the African battles in WW11. His name then was Hans Gudegast, the German in the photo on the left.

But I still am watching Lost, although having zipped through the flashbacks and forwards and even whole episodes. I did get a few ideas and I'm now at the end of Season Four. Maybe I'll get a great idea but getting dizzy by who lies to whom and who changes sides, etc. etc.

But I did like Sawyer and the Iraqi guy. They sure got beat up a lot and sometimes I think beat each other up. Everybody got beat-up.

By the way, here's the link to the Lost writer's stories about writing the series. You can find it at the top of the page under Stuff. It's a good read.

If it's not under STUFF, here's the link:

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