Lost in translation

by Henry on April 3, 2006

via Steven Berlin Johnson, Dan Hill has written a blogpost on the creative (but slightly creepy) ways in which Lost is beginning to invade the real world.

Some have speculated that the show is only being produced a few episodes in advance, as the screenwriters are wrangling the numerous ideas generated in fans’ forums into the script … But the most sophisticated tactic I’ve seen deployed thus far lasted for a few seconds on-screen, and has yet to play out fully online. In series 2, episode 13 (‘The Long Con’), the Hurley character is casually seen reading a tattered manuscript found in one of the suitcases washed up on the beach. He shows the name of the prospective book: Bad Twin by a ‘Gary Troup’, and makes an off-hand complimentary comment on the content. And the scene moves on. However, this book, Bad Twin, actually exists in Amazon.com. Scroll down and check the ‘About the author’ section to discover that Lost’s fiction and Amazon’s facts have collided …

Time to get cracking on that essay on Sir Thomas Browne’s Urn Burial methinks.



Brendan 04.03.06 at 3:22 pm

Er….I am preparing myself for the hatemail, but am I the only person who thinks ‘Lost’ is an incomprehensible pile of tedious pretentious crap?

And don’t get me started on ‘Invasion’.


P O'Neill 04.03.06 at 3:30 pm

You probably know about that synergy between Lost and Flann O’Brien.


abb1 04.03.06 at 4:19 pm

But isn’t any soap opera tedious and pretentious? That’s why they are so popular.


Andrew Edwards 04.03.06 at 5:37 pm

I think Lost has taken a turn for the tedious. The first dozen or so episodes were relevatory and some of the best TV I’ve seen.

Since then, though, there’s been far too much “Will Locke and Jack get along?” and not nearly enough invisible mechanical dinosaurs that eat 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, or 42 people.


Keith 04.03.06 at 7:45 pm

The tedious part comes from the endless recaps. I’d like to watch several new eppisodes in a row without having them space dout with six weeks worth of recaps in between each noew episode.

Though, things could move a bit quicker.


Doctor Slack 04.03.06 at 9:42 pm

It’s interesting that Hill seems to regard as a feature, rather than a defect, the sense that the series’ writers haven’t the slightest clue where they’re going or if a tenth of the intricate details and subplots even lead anywhere at all. The whole thing reminds me uncomfortably of the X-Files for some reason, and that kind of dampens my enthusiasm.


abb1 04.04.06 at 2:01 am

Judging by a couple of episodes I saw, their problem is exactly the lack of X-Files stuff. Their flash-backs are the most vile example of the day-time soap crap that has no place at prime-time and should be banned from appearing on TV after 6pm. Sneaky bastards. If I had to choose, I’d take any X-Files spoof over Bold And Beautiful any time.


pyrator 04.04.06 at 4:44 am

As someone who has watched ‘Lost’ regularly since it began, and have invested so much time in watching it and getting to know the characters, I desperately want some form of sensible ‘closure’ and not a soap opera that tries to continue on for 10 seasons or so.
But hey that’s not in the best interests necessarily of the producers. I just hope they get lots of hate mail if it’s canned before they give us a sensible conclusion.


James Wimberley 04.04.06 at 6:13 am

It was Urne-Buriall. Browne is an author you have to sip slowly, neat and unpasteurised.
Is Henry going to take up Sir Thomas’ epistemic challenge? “What Song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles used when he hid himself among women, though puzling Questions are not beyond all conjecture.”


Luis Villa 04.04.06 at 6:20 am

They mean ‘see the ways in which Lost’s fiction and Lost’s marketing have collided’, right? I mean, the book does have a big Lost logo on the cover.


Henry 04.04.06 at 9:10 am

james is right – but the reference isn’t to Browne himself; rather to Borges’ reference to Browne in “Tlon, Uqbar …” Pedant that I am, I actually checked the spelling in the original Spanish of Borges’ story before posting, and Borges goes for the modernized spelling. I’m a fan of Browne – I believe I had occasion to cite to _Pseudoxia Epidemica_ early in the history of this blog, although I’ll confess that the mixture of Latinate prose and obscure reasoning in some of his theological writings puts it well beyond my grasp.

doctor slack – I too fear an X-files denouement.


Doctor Slack 04.04.06 at 9:21 am

Judging by a couple of episodes I saw, their problem is exactly the lack of X-Files stuff.

Yeah, the soapy stuff doesn’t help either. But I think what reminds me of the X-Files is more the hope that’s held out, what with all the interconnections and Weird Coincidences and so on, of some kind of coherent ending — that “the truth is out there” as it were. Boy, can that go wrong.


abb1 04.04.06 at 10:11 am

…some kind of coherent ending…

Well, nothing new to invent here; Verne’s done it in his Mysterious Island – what, about 150 years ago?


Doctor Slack 04.04.06 at 10:38 am

Verne’s done it in his Mysterious Island – what, about 150 years ago?

Oh, God, I hope Captain Nemo doesn’t turn out to be the explanation for everything!


Anarch 04.04.06 at 11:15 am

doctor slack – I too fear an X-files denouement.

If you’re just talking the X-Files up to the movie, I’ve gotta disagree: Chris Carter et al. flew by the seat of their pants, but it all hung together modulo the leeway you have to give shows of that type. If you’re talking post-movie X-Files… well, you’re talking about a show I never saw (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).


Jonathan 04.04.06 at 2:17 pm

They’re all kinds of things you could look at. The Invention of Morel is one of my favorites, and you might could see elements of The Magus there if you squinted.


wcw 04.04.06 at 2:19 pm

I lived without the X-Files, but my wife likes Lost, so I watch. I’d say it did start of reasonably well given it was a gimmicky soap-operatic setup from the start, but has foundered on the shoals of what I call “Nowhere Boy” disease. Nowhere Man was another solve-the-mystery show that started off well. However, it’s just a lot more difficult to start resolving little bits of the mystery while continuing to spin it out with good writing, and as the producers tried to turn the show its charm spun off and it became very, very bad (see also Peaks, Twin).

In this sort of serial, it’s my contention that the *less* you try to “resolve” the better. Viz Carnivale, in which the best episodes (imho) were the ones after which my wife asked me, “did anything actually happen?”

To my mind an unresolved mystery is an ideal canvas onto which to project. Plot just muddies things.


wcw 04.04.06 at 2:22 pm

Oh, and: second the Magus sighting. Unfortunately, Lost’s writers are nowhere near as good as Fowles was. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Magus serialized with similar production values and pacing to Lost.


Jonathan 04.04.06 at 3:40 pm

I actually thought Twin Peaks got better in the second season. That it didn’t is rather conventional.


Clark 04.05.06 at 12:44 am

I thought parts of Twin Peak’s second season were genius. I can’t wait for the DVD of the second season. The problem was that in the second season between the solving of Laura Palmer’s death until say the white lodge got going it was a bit muddled. But I maintain that Lynch’s send up of the show in the final episode was spectacular. I still kind of dug Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me as well. It was originally going to be a ABC movie of the week, if you can believe it. They had plans for four Twin Peaks movies. But clearly no one cared by then. I think the backlash against the movie was unfortunate as it still really creeps me out when I see it.

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