It introduced us to a magical world filled with the adventure, laughter, tears, shocks and surprises
Six years ago, an amazing adventure began in the hallowed halls of the San Diego Convention Center. An upcoming television producer credited with launching two of the most successful female-led television shows in recent history chose to debut his new television series at Comic-Con. The brilliant combination of J.J. Abrams’ name recognition and the foresight to preview this new series at one of the world’s largest geek-fests was genius. Offering the sneak-peek to one of the most vocal and passionate fan-bases world-wide, “Lost” was an off-the-charts immediate success.
This is not just a story about the phenomenal television sensation “Lost.” It is about my journey along with it for the past 6 years. I did not work on the show. I had nothing to do with it creatively. But as a fan, I was there from the very first.
Six years ago, I stood in the Exhibit Hall during the Comic-Con extravaganza and saw a sign advertising a special autograph signing with J.J. Abrams, Greg Grunberg and Ron Rifkin. Being the massive “Alias” and “Felicity” fan that I was, I stood stunned. Surely, it had to be too good to be true. But when I returned later that day at the appointed autograph time, there they all were! Quickly entering the queue, I just made it before the line was cut. Then when it was my turn for an autograph, I was nearly speechless with glee. But Greg Grunberg, being the social butterfly that he is, broke the ice by asking me my name and, as he exclaimed with happiness that I had the same name as his sister, my awkwardness faded away. Greg, Ron and J.J. were lively enthusiastic and delighted to talk with not only little ole me, they were happily chatting up all the fans – and that is how I found out about a show called “Lost.” J.J. mentioned that he was going to be introducing a special screening of it the next day and asked all of us to attend. Curious about it as there was virtually no information about it, J.J. would only cryptically say that we should check it out.
Intrigued, I arrived early the next day and found a seat in the massive ballroom where the screening was to commence. I, along with 4,500 others, then watched the pilot for “Lost.” 42 minutes later and we were collectively breathless and awe-struck. It was not at all what we were expecting. The “Lost” phenomenon had begun. Filling out the questionnaire distributed by ABC, I gave it the highest marks.
If anything ABC learned that day, “Lost” was going to be a runaway hit. So, as word of mouth spread throughout the fans, the grassroots movement began to rumble. I know I promptly told everyone I could about this amazing new show that they simply must watch come that following fall. I was obsessed. I emailed everyone I knew. I researched the show online. I was a bona fide Lostie before the show had even debuted on television.
So imagine my delight when I found out that ABC was hosting a Primetime Preview Weekend at the Disney’s California Adventure Park six weeks later and that the cast of “Lost” would be in attendance? There was not a moment’s hesitation as I bought a ticket and returned for my 2nd trip to SoCal just to see the panel for “Lost.” The panel exceeded my expectations as the cast were a joyous bunch who were clearly thrilled to be working on the show. Dazzled by their ease and openness with the fans, their charm was intoxicating.
After this third brush with “Lost” and those responsible for making it, the obsession rose to the level of a full blown love-affair. I had fallen in love with a television show – was that even possible?! Apparently it was. Inspired to get as many people to watch as possible to ensure the show’s success and longevity, it was all I could talk about until it debuted on September 22, 2004. It debuted to a television audience of 18.6 million people and after that I never had any worries that the entire world loved “Lost” as much as I did. I was no longer the only one I knew talking about it – everyone was talking about it. The cult-like obsession spread globally and everyone was hooked. Each episode fueled the addiction. Another character was highlighted and another mystery unveiled. The flame had lit a fire and the fire became a firestorm. There was no where you could go and not hear about “Lost.”
That first season was like discovering chocolate for the first time: you could not get enough of it. So when it was announced that the fans had planned a fan party to celebrate the show, I was again jumping on an airplane to partake in the festivities. Despite no assurances, over a dozen cast members, writers and producers made an appearance at the party and it was an evening of revelry and mutual appreciation. The “Destination L.A.” event was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and I will never forget it.
Pumped full of adrenaline over being a part of such a fun event, I next leapt at the chance to meet three more of the cast I had not seen at the “Destination L.A.” event and scored tickets to meet Evangeline Lily, Naveen Andrews and Ian Somerhalder at the annual Grand Slam Sci-Fi convention hosted by Creation Entertainment. It was a wonderful opportunity to snag more pictures and bask in all things “Lost” at another memorable event. Coming off of such a monumentally successful first season, the cast were beyond gracious and enthusiastic. They loved the show as much as the fans – even Ian who unfortunately drew the short stick and was killed off mid-way through the season.
So as the 1st season of “Lost” concluded and we all sat back in horror hearing the name Walt echo through our brains, the summer hiatus break seemed long and the fall season too far away. Thus, it was with glee that I found out that “Lost” would be returning to Comic-Con that summer. I, along with several other fans, waited in excess of 6 hours to ensure that we got into the room for this highly anticipated presentation – and it was worth it! With special appearances by Josh Holloway and Maggie Grace, along with Damon Lindelof, Carton Cuse, Bryan Burk, and Javier Grillo-Marxuach, they were all heralded as returning heroes. If the building could have tilted as the fans tried to squish themselves in a 4,500 seated room with another 10,000 anxiously trying to get inside as well, it would have. Only a year before, no one had heard of “Lost,” let alone any of the actors and producers associated with the show. But what a difference a year makes. They were unknown no more. Even the producers were now fan favorites and the cloak of anonymity that producers normally hide behind was gone. Anyone associated with the show who worked in front of or behind the camera was now the equivalent of a rock-god. They all looked kind of stunned at the thunderous reception. But as they would find out, “Lost” changed all of their lives irrevocably. So with tidbits and teases to tide the fans over until the 2nd season began, the “Lost” fervor continued.
And it rolled straight through the next 5 years. Each season was trumpeted as if it were the one thing that everyone must watch and the fans kept the momentum of the world-wide love affair alive. The initial wave of promotional events for the show slowed down, but the fanatical obsession only grew. Everything from the books featured on the show to the orchestral music was scrutinized and analyzed. Fan blogs and critics rushed to crank out their speculations as to what each new clue meant and how it would all end. As ratings began to slip as casual television viewers tapered off frustrated with the slow pace of the show and the stringy amount of answers provided, the producers approached ABC to get a set end-date for the series in order to map out the overall arcing storyline to a final end point. Once that date was locked, the show built up momentum again and fans rallied to show their appreciation of the show with “Lost” viewing parties for each and every episode.
“Lost” also continued to come back to Comic-Con faithfully every year and the fans greeted them like long lost relatives and the rock-gods of television. Each year different actors arrived and each seemed stunned at the iconic reception. Comic-Con, now teeming at over 125,000 attendees, had moved the “Lost” panel into its largest presentation room, which seated 6,500 people. But as far as the fans were concerned, a football stadium would have been needed to seat everyone that wanted to be “in the room” with the cast and producers. Besides being a phenomenon, the show was known be highly secretive. Because it was filmed on location in Hawaii, it was much harder to find out what was upcoming. So to be “in the room” when they previewed the next season or shared upcoming spoilers, meant everyone wanted to be a part of it.
As one last hurrah, on May 13, 2010, a special orchestral presentation “Lost Live: The Final Celebration” was hosted at UCLA to honor the musical talents of Michael Giacchino, who scored every musical lyric for the entire six seasons of “Lost.” The musical presentation was a way to re-live the most precious moments of “Lost” and be treated to a sneak peek at one of the last episodes of the show. Like any other “Lost” event, it was a must-attend event and tickets sold out within minutes. I was initially heart-broken to not get one of the coveted tickets, but in a stroke of good fortune I was offered a ticket at the last minute on the day of the event. Without hesitation, I snatched it up and thus got be a part of one of the final historical moments of “Lost.” The evening showcased the astounding orchestra music that made all those epic moments so much more heart-felt and suspenseful. In attendance were 20 of the principal and supporting cast, as well as several familiar faces from some of the past seasons. After a joyous introduction by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and applause that nearly deafened everyone there, a few of the cast were selected to read messages from the bottle that had been thrown out to sea at the end of the first season. Watching the effect the slideshow of scenes intertwined with the words of the messages was mesmerizing. It took everyone right back to that time when we first watched those episodes. With hearts full of love and remembrance, the evening was simply spectacular. As the final music and scene played out, and the lights rose, the audience sat awestruck. That was exactly the same reaction as when I first saw the pilot of “Lost.” No other show has invoked such feeling of awe. Yet, time and time again, “Lost” did.
So now that the show has concluded, the 6 year journey can be marveled over and relished. The show took us down unexpected paths, introduced a wide array of fresh faces, killed off beloved characters and yet remains deeply embedded in our hearts. It has haunted us and consumed us – and more than anything it will resonate forever in our souls. Perhaps it is the “Lost” legacy that the 14 castaways initially introduced and the subsequent two dozen others that became an integral part of the “Lost” world will always be known as those characters to us; the producers and writers will always be greeted with breathless anticipation; and none of us will ever forget the marvelous television show that drew us together and forged the bonds of life-long friendships. “Lost” remains one of the finest shows ever to grace the television screen and will be remembered as a cultural phenomenon that invited us to take a journey with it. We miss it now that it is gone, but cherish the memories it gave us.