Ever wonder why Jeffrey Lieber’s name appears at the beginning of every episode of Lost? Well this is why, or at least the bit that doesn’t involve legal matters.
Back in early 2003 Lieber wrote a TV pilot based around the survivors of a plane crash, it was titled ‘Nowhere’. The story, as far as I know, is that ABC didn’t really like the concept that he had put together and subsequently gave him the boot. The idea, and presumably Lieber’s original script, were handed over to JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof who, with a few key changes turned it into the ‘Lost’ that we know and love.
I’ve had a copy of the ‘Nowhere’ script (download at the bottom of the post) sitting on my desktop for a couple of months, I can’t remember exactly where it came from, but I think it was posted on DarkUFO’s blog. A couple of nights ago I actually sat down and read it. Immediately it feels like your reading a missing ‘Lost’ episode, but at the same time somethings just not the same.
In fairness ‘Lost’ didn’t drop the WTF moments right from the beginning (not counting the fact that a bunch of people could have actually survived the crash), but there is a distinct lack of mystery throughout the ‘Nowhere’ script. Lieber has said that ‘Lord of the Flies’ and ‘Cast Away’ were his influences, and it does show. I haven’t actually seen ‘Cast Away’, but isn’t it just Tom Hanks trying to survive while stuck on an island? That’s a bit what ‘Nowhere’ felt like, except there was a bunch of them trying to survive.
The differences? To start with the plane is flying TO Sydney, not FROM Sydney. There are still the pre-crash scenes inside the plane, but the circumstances of the crash and how they end up on the island is quite different. The characters, while not a direct person-for-person match, share a lot of similarities with the Losties. Although Lieber clearly had a thing for ‘odd’ names. There is an Australian character name ‘Xander Britzke’. Not sure Lieber actually knows where Australia is… cause that name sounds more Austrian, than Australian. Just Saying. There’s also a family and the daughter’s name is Tyke Sykes. The choice of that name is probably the biggest WTF moment in the whole script.
There are some close similarities, like the Jack substitute, Truman, who’s flying to Australia to collect his deceased father. Also following the crash Truman has the same injury that Jack suffered (large cut on the back). A seemingly important character is killed of relatively quickly, which was apparently the original plan for Jack’s character in ‘Lost’ as well. Glad they changed that.
There’s a doctor, but its not the Truman, and they’re only really a med student, not a spinal surgeon. There’s a somewhat shifty guy with a drug dependency. There’s a criminal who’s being escorted by a US Marshall, and the Marshall also dies after the crash. Then there comes an expert attorney in Nashville criminal defense laws and resolves all problems. There’s a woman who survived, she can’t find her husband, but she’s convinced that he’s definitely alive (aka. Rose and Bernard). The list goes on.
What is missing though, like I said, is the mystery. No weird noises in the bushes, no polar bears, no cripples who can now walk (or none that were revealed in this pilot anyway). I think its safe to say the Lieber’s concept was definitely swayed more toward the drama genre, and maybe that’s what ABC didn’t like.
All that aside, I actually enjoyed reading the script, probably because of my slight addiction to ‘Lost’ and craving for anything related (that’s NOT a spoiler). If I had no knowledge of ‘Lost’ I probably would have enjoyed it even more for what it was, instead of constantly comparing and contrasting the two. While in all honesty that isn’t fair when one has been going for 5 season and one was a single pilot script. but still, its extremely hard not to compare them.
Whatever ABC’s decision was for dumping Lieber and handing it over to Abrams and Lindelof, I’m glad they went the way they did, because otherwise we wouldn’t have had ‘Lost’ to watch for the past 5+ years. Just a real shame that it all comes to an end after this season.
Download the script below (at least until someone asks me to remove it) and have a read for yourself. I’d be interested to hear what you think.