I’m pretty addicted to the TV show “Lost.” The first season has wrapped up and left some amazing cliffhangers. I finally got all the episodes watched (thanks BitLord), and I started looking around to see what was on the Web to hold me over until fall.
It turns out that the creators of “Lost” are unbelievably abusive to their fan base. They’ve created a site which just takes advantage of the fact that the fans of “Lost” are obssessive to the extreme. As one of this site’s victims, I can attest that unleashing it was a stunning act of cruelty.
In the show, Oceanic Airlines, Flight 815 goes down en route from Sydney to Los Angeles (let me also say that I’m the creator of the Oceanic Airlines page on Wikipedia, which is thriving right now). One day, www.oceanic-air.com popped onto the Net, which is, ostensibly, their corporate site.
The site was never publicized by ABC. Some viewers with a Tivo apparently found it by freeze-framing a scene in the airport containing a poster for Oceanic Airlines. ABC just stuck that poster in the show knowing that someone would stumble on it eventually.
Fake Web sites like this aren’t new, but this one includes a Flash-based “seating chart” on which you can mouse over the seats. Someone figured out that you can make different seats light up by clicking other seats in a certain order and at a certain frequency. Every once in a while, you get an Easter Egg in the form of some supporting documentation about a character — their passport, dairy, or something else.
And off to the races the fans went. See this thread at the online forums for most of the sequences. Some guy finally decompiled the Flash and extracted the pictures, but apparently not all the sequences. Then someone figured out that if you clicked the seat row numbers in a certain order (these numbers and their order are central to the show itself), you got a full-blown promo for Season Two.
“Lost” is taking the fake site concept further than most, as there’s more than one. There’s a site for the band DriveSHAFT, which is supposedly the one-hit wonder band for which character Charlie Pace was the bassist. The site is so perfectly done — just amateur enough to seem real — that it almost fooled me into thinking it was real…until I found this “news article” about the crash of Flight 815 which refers to characters in the show.
So the discovery of this second site leaves me wondering, are there others? Are the creators of this show (J.J. Abrams — the same crack dealer who gave us “Alias”) creating a full-blown backdrop on the Web? Is stuff going on these sites that’s crucial for understanding the episodes on TV? Is any of it canonical?
I hate that I’ve become one of the obssessed.