If you take a peek inside an early series guide to the TV series Lost, it's immediately clear that there are some major differences between that early production piece and the show itself. That's because the document served as a not entirely honest pitch to sell ABC executives on the series.
An early Lost series format guide popped up earlier this week, via Boing Boing, and it contained tidbits like this:
THE BIG QUESTION - IS IT SELF-CONTAINED OR SERIALIZED?
Yes - the mysteries surrounding the island may serve an ongoing (and easy to follow) mythology -but every episode has a beginning, middle and end. More importantly, the beginning of the next episode presents an entirely new dilemna to be resolved that requires NO knowledge of the episode(s) that preceded it (except for the rare two-parter).
Yes - character arcs (romances, alliances, grudges) carry over the scope of a season, but the plots will not. Viewers will be able to drop in at any time and be able to follow exactly what's going on in a story context.
This is not lip service - we are absolutely committed to this conceit. LOST can and will be just as accessible on a weekly basis as a traditionally "procedural" drama.
There's also the assurance that "there is no 'Ultimate Mystery' which requires solving." After watching and speculating and tracking speculations about Lost over the years, I think the only appropriate response is: Bahahahahahah. (Repeat as needed.)
Anyhow, there is a reason that the bible doesn't line up with the show's reality. /Film spoke with show co-creator Damon Lindelof, who explained ABC executives saw Alias as too serialized and too much of a genre show, so he and co-creator J.J. Abrams pitched Lost as a very different show:
So, per J.J., we made a very specific effort in this document to say we were not going to be serialized, we were not going to be genre and we were not going to do what Alias had done. So even though I think it was our intention to do all of the above, we needed to put that in the document because the document was essentially a letter to ABC saying ‘Here’s what the show’s going to be.’
And so, despite those promises to ABC, Lost and its island proved a mystery wrapped in an enigma rolled up in making-it-up-as-we-go-along.