Behind the Secrets of 'Lost'

CUSE: And characters who were unsympathetic leads who would murder people. … You go to a network executive and say, "You know what, you're going to love this girl. She's a fugitive and she actually blew her father up and killed him!" Or, "This other guy was a con man and his desire was to basically kill the guy who killed his parents but he actually killed somebody else instead!" But those became the characters that we know and love on the show and that, again, was something which was really in violation of normal network storytelling rules.

TAPPER: Do you think that the fact that the show is nonlinear and has such complicated story lines shows that the American people are smarter than Hollywood often gives them credit for?

LINDELOF: I think it's not just the American people but it's the worldwide audience.

CUSE: It's the Dutch people, too.

LINDELOF: It's the Dutch especially.

TAPPER: Let's not forget the Dutch.

LINDELOF: I think that if you tell compelling stories, people will totally dial in. I don't think there is an estimation that the American audience isn't savvy enough, it's that they're impatient. And I think that this show and many other serialized shows that have have come in the wake of this show have proven that people will wait a week, they will dial in the characters, they will interact on the Internet when the show is not on in an effort to sort of keep abreast of things. The viewing audience is very intelligent. Those procedural shows are who-done-its. You present a mystery in the beginning of the show -- somebody's been murdered -- by the end of the show you reveal who did it and why. And the audience at home wants to play along and figure it out. Our show is the same thing. We present a mystery, but you have to wait 17 or 18 episodes to get the answer to that mystery.

TAPPER: Or more than that.

ABRAMS: The flashback element is one of my favorite things about the show. And in theory you think, "Well, it's a flashback so it's not affecting the present-day story, therefore is it relevant?" I'm a huge fan of the "Twilight Zone," and I love tuning into a show and not knowing exactly what you're going to get every week -- it's sort of having a little surprise. It's a current network sort of no-no that you don't have an anthology, you have to have characters you're following every single week. But "Lost" allows us to kind of sneak in an anthology element into a series, which is: You don't know exactly who you are going to be following every week, and you have no idea where they are going to take you. The flashbacks are sort of a minipuzzle within each episode -- what that means or why that little plane is so important to her.

TAPPER: Why is that little plane so important?

LINDELOF: Well.

ABRAMS: You don't have one of those planes?

TAPPER: Is there really a reason for everything in there, or sometimes are you guys just having fun and throwing in little things? The books that Sawyer is reading on the beach, whether it's "A Wrinkle in Time" or "Watership Down." The little plane Kate killed for. Jack's father's name is Christian Shephard. Does everything have a reason?

CUSE: Most things have a reason. Some things we just throw in there. Some things we throw in there sort of self-referentially. We'll do things in the show that acknowledge people's theories about the show.

TAPPER: Like what?

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