Monday, January 14, 2008

Why Damon Writes
Sorry it's been a few days since I posted. I'm pleasantly surprised at how many comments I got to my John Hughes post; it's great to see he affects so many of us, 20 years after those movies came out. And why do his movies affect us? Because of the writing. (Ok, and the music, and the acting, blah blah blah... but mostly the writing.)

In the midst of the ongoing writer's strike, several sites are popping up to give the writers a voice. They're not allowed to write for TV or film, but they can write to us. As part of an ongoing "Why We Write" series, Damon Lindelof has stepped up to explain why HE writes. And, no surprise here, it's brill:

I was listening to the news on NPR the other day and two things occurred to me. First, only assholes feel the constant need to tell you they listen to NPR (does anyone ever say, “So I was watching the CW last night…”?) and I guess that makes me an asshole. The second was that in the midst of listening to the story in question, I had finally figured out how to succinctly sum up why I write. It goes a little something like this --There’s this ninety-year old woman named Rose who, after honking her horn repeatedly at the school bus idling in front of her, decides she has much more important things to do and guns her Honda Civic around the bus. Before she realizes that the bus was stopped for a very good reason indeed, Rose finds herself watching a freight train bear down on her and almost instantly, it smashes into the passenger side of the Civic and pushes it a good hundred feet before screeching to a stop. Forgoing all the gory details, Rose is pronounced dead at the local hospital and the attending doctor in the ER is tasked with notifying next of kin. Turns out Rose’s husband has been dead for decades, but she has a couple sons and a daughter. The doctor calls one of her sons and his wife answers the phone. The son isn’t home, but the wife offers to take a message. The notification ethics, however, forbid the hospital from telling anyone but next of kin about Rose’s death and so they ask when the son will be home so they can call back.And the wife responds “He won’t be back for two months.” And the hospital says, “Well… do you have a number where we could reach him?” And the wife says no, she doesn’t. And why not?–

If you want to find out why not, click here to read the rest. This little missive is just another example of why the studios are a bunch of morons who don't see the talent that's most important to them, because they're too busy giving all their money to the onscreen talent. The writer's strike is going on, and the latest word in the pipeline is, if it doesn't end by January 31 (the date of Lost's season 4 premiere) then ABC will run season 4 as 8 episodes only, and they won't be giving Bad Robot those other 8 episodes. Which means just when Damon and Carlton knew they had 48 episodes left, and filmed the first 8 thinking there would be 40 more to follow, now they only have 32 to finish the story. So some storylines are going to have to be dropped to accomodate it. Yikes.

Update: Oops, since writing that post I've gotten a few emails from people asking if I knew for sure that 8 episodes have been dropped, and I just wanted to clarify that's just me speculating (as well as getting a bunch of emails over the past week from people saying the same thing, but they also didn't give me anything to back it up). I'm suggesting they could drop the 8 episodes for a couple of reasons: 1, if the network has assigned 16 episodes per season, and has scheduled Lost to begin each January/February and run until May, then they would have been working on other shows covering that fall slot, so they'd have to do some shuffling in order to give Darlton 24 episodes in season 5. Secondly, if you think of the logistics of it from the writerly angle, each season follows a certain arc, and presumably Darlton have sat down and worked out the basics of what the next 3 seasons will be, and they've broken it down in arcs. The first 3 seasons all had themes specific to that season, and if you imagine taking the last 10 episodes of season 1 and tacking them onto the beginning of season 2, it wouldn't have worked.

So that's just me speculating, and not saying anything definitive. Sorry if I misled.


Anonymous said...

hey Niki-- I think they will be able to pull it off with 32 episodes--remember I think Damon and Carlton only wanted to go two more seasons, the network wanted four and they settled on three seasons. I suppose the challenge is reworking the 8 missing episodes into next season. Who knows, maybe they will do something on line or DVD. Write-on :) Valerie

Anonymous said...

Are we sure they aren't sticking with the 48 episodes total thing? I mean, obviously no one was predicting a strike way back when when Darlton struck (no pun intended) this deal with ABC, but I thought it was 48 episodes left total, no questions asked. So that, in this case, I guess they'd run 8 this season and then end up having a 24 episode season somewhere in the next 2 seasons, so that they would end up with 48 as agreed?

Is this possible?

K J Gillenwater said...

But why wouldn't they show those 8 episodes in the fall and still have 16 for next Jan/Feb? If the strike ends before the summer, they should have plenty of time to work on those 'missing' 8 episodes. Or am I not understanding something here?

I just don't see why ABC would tell its flagship show that they can't have all the episodes they need in order to wrap up the show the way they want. LOST makes ABC lots o' money. There's no way they would cut that many episodes.