... executive producer Carlton Cuse said at a Sunday press panel that the show’s producers are in the process of “picking an end point to the show.”
“Once we do that,” he told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, “a lot of the anxiety and a lot of these questions, like, ‘We’re not getting answers,’ a lot of those will go away. They really represent an underlying anxiety that this is not going to go well or that we don’t know what we’re doing.
If you want to know what the creators intended a show to be "about", you can usually go back and watch the last scene of the pilot. In E.R., it's Noah Wylie sitting on the sidewalk, exhausted but changed. It's going to be a show about how people survive this tumultuous, draining situation, and how it changes them. I won't spoil the last scene of the Breaking Bad pilot, but it's stunning in its prescience right down to the final line of dialogue. (Seriously, it makes me want to kiss Vince Gilligan on the mouth.) The last scene of Leverage is Nate explaining the physics of Crime World, and how he and his crew are going to fuck up The Man. This show is about those people punching rich guys in the neck. Because they have Sinned, and Deserve It.
What's really kind of interesting is to go back and watch the Lost pilot. (Remember, the end of the pilot is the end of Ep 2*.) It ends with Charlie asking "Guys ... where ARE we?" That sets up the mystery of the show. But is that really, eventually, what the show's about?
I'd argue that's what so infuriated many people about Lost by the end of it. (Full disclosure: I really dug the show, and am show-business friends with a fair chunk of the ex-writers). Was Lost "about" the people on the island (emotion), or "about" the mystery of the island (the system)? I'd guess for the writers it was about unravelling those castaways' stories every week. And sure, for a big chunk of the audience, that's what got them emotionally invested. But mysteries demand solving, and as soon as the system of the island was set up as a mystery it became part of the contract with the audience. "Oh, there are mysteries! Puzzles! I'll pay attention over here, too!" But if you don't then satisfy the puzzle-solving part of the relationship -- God help you. Audiences are hella-smart. Even if they're not conscious puzzle-solvers, the lizard brain knows it isn't getting what it wants. That frustration feeds back into the character side, and before you know it fans are frustrated with both parts of the equation, because they're feeling that ...
... ahh ... you know the best thing I ever heard, the thing I wish someone had told me when I was 20?
"Every criticism is the tragic result of an unmet need."
I think it's important when working in television to understand we are in the emotional need business. The audience has needs, wide ranging and diverse, and ultimately impossible to satisfy universally and long-term. So, in the end, all writers can do is write the show they need to write.
“Who gives a shit about this Russian?” David Chase says. The creator of The Sopranos has never understood his audience’s fascination with Valery, the Russian mobster who disappeared in the legendary “Pine Barrens” episode. It was a one-off story that needed no closure, Chase says now. He recalls thinking, “We did that show! I don’t know where he is! Now we’ve got to go and figure that out?!?!”
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