Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Could Get Pregnant Today and Still Give Birth Before Lost Returns. What Gives?

It’s a difficult question to answer: when a project disappears from the airwaves for nine months, how do you make sure that everybody tunes in upon its return?

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are attempting to field that question as we speak, working with ABC execs to make sure that the Lost buzz doesn’t die out in its extended hiatus.

Their answer comes in a variety of marketing. A Lost video game is expected to street later this year for PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, and PC. (Apparently, us Mac users will have to hit up our Wii-owning friends. Or convince our dads that they’re ready to part with their PS2s. I’ve been trying to do that for years now.) They’re also touting these “mobisodes,” Verizon-only mini-episodes that show new shorts featuring our favorite characters.

I have to say, I’m excited about both. I have really excellent hand-eye coordination, and while I’m not exactly an avid gamer, I did kick my best guy friend’s (Pete’s) ass at car racing on Xbox. That said, I’m a little confused as to how a Lost video game is supposed to work. I mean, they do an awful lot of walking. Is it going to be sort of first-person shooter, letting us take on some hand-to-hand combat with the Others? More strategy-type escape-the-island business? Will I get to pick my character and be Kate and just make her sit next to Jack for hours and hours? Will there be cheat codes that let me make Hurley do ridiculous little dances? Can I let off a little steam by attacking Michael and Walt?

Anyway, I’m excited. But I don’t think I’m excited because the video game will “tide me over” until the next season premieres. It won’t. It’ll be fun, but no computer graphic can replace the real Jack Shephard for me.

So the mobisodes sound like a great idea. Real content, never-before-seen, with, Damon promises, our favorite characters. I’ve never been so happy to be a Verizon customer. I mean, I thought I was happy when I found out that I get service in the D.C. Metro, or that Verizon was building a cell tower on top of the science building on my campus, but this really takes the cake. Verizon, you have officially redeemed yourself for making it incredibly difficult to make “Cosy in the Rocket” my ringtone. (I had to make the ringtone in Audacity, then email it to my Dad, who then text messaged the Grey’s theme to me from his Blackberry. It was way too involved.)

Lindelof said at a recent electronic media conference: "Nobody wanted to see two people sitting on a beach that we've never heard of talking and saying, 'Hey, did you hear what Jack and Kate did today?' You want to see Jack and Kate. It's taken us three years to get those deals in place.”

First of all, the fact that Damon always uses Jack and Kate as the example lets me know that the ultimate Lost goal is absolutely, undeniably lots of Jabies. For the record, yes, Damon, I do want to see Jack and Kate.

Real content is basically ideal. Last summer, I relished in The Office’s webisodes, featuring the accountants. It was thirty minutes spread out over ten weeks, but those were seriously the most fun three minutes of the week. Plus, I trust the Lost team to make these mobisodes count for something. It’s not just throwaway, keep-Lost-in-the-news content with these people ever. They’ll matter.

Last summer’s vacation plan for Lost involved The Lost Experience, an intense online project that required participants to basically turn internet-searching into a full-time job. There were phone calls and weird website passwords and decoding Navajo and binary code. At some point, you had to call in Marshall Flinkman for an assist. I tried to pick up on it, but I just couldn’t keep up with that insanity. Several people did take on the challenge, and they ultimately uncovered…something… I don’t think it’s become relevant on the show yet, but maybe someday it will. If you disagree with me, or if you want to explain TLE to me (even the Lostpedia article on it confuses me), email me, by all means.

This is to say that if you can’t even get me on board, you’ve got a problem.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only people willing to take on such a challenge probably would have tuned into season three with or without The Lost Experience.

A nice little project for the hard-core Lost-philes, not so good for marketing.

Ultimately, I think, good promoting is key. Last year’s “Plan Your Escape” promos were exceptionally good. I would stop what I was doing to watch those promos when they came on. Jack with that wall of water rushing at him? Don’t remember how that ended up playing out, but it was a great commercial tool.

And this year’s Jack/Kate promo seriously melted my heart. It was so good I devoted an entire blog about it — find my emotional squeefest about the glory of “I will come back here for you” here. The ABC promo department is a really talented group of people, y’all. “Pick Thursdays, Choose Thursdays, Love Thursdays” was a great Grey’s campaign. “The Only Network With The Doctors Shephard” made me smile. Hell, they super-sold me on “October Road.” (Read about my reaction to that promo here, and Mae’s sadly-accurate commentary on the show itself here.)

ABC has the benefit of having all eyes right now. Promoted correctly, the February premiere of Lost isn’t going to slip past anyone, be they obsessed fangirl, regular watcher, or even just somebody looking to get out of the Grey’s business.

Regardless, it’s going to be a long wait for the season premiere. I look forward to the mobisodes—I’ll watch every second of original Lost content, even if I do have to watch it on the tiny screen of my Razr—and to having complete control over the characters in the video game. Just wait until they have to act out my plotlines for a change. Hahaha.

Sawyer, you better watch your back.

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