Imagining what LOST’s Sawyer and Miles buddy cop show spin-off might have looked like
Damon Lindelof not long ago stated that he would “welcome a new crack” at LOST, but that it wouldn’t be under his helm and that it should feature wholly new characters. The notion of LOST returning in any form always gives all true “LOSTies” considerable cause for concern. Although many of us would love to see the island again, the show is perfect as it is and should probably be left alone.
In fact, when you hurl the term “spin-off” at a LOST fan, something altogether different comes to mind – one very humorous and endearing duo. This is James and Miles working together as cops in the flash sideways, whose partnership held so much wit and charm that fans mused upon the notion of giving them their own buddy cop drama together.
The idea of it really happening has always been a tongue-in-cheek joke and I know no network would ever commission such a show, but it’s still a fun thought experiment to play out nonetheless, especially for hardcore LOST fans. Different fans will no doubt envision different visions for the spin-off, but for me – as James says – this is the “only way to cut it.”
The title – FORDSTRAUME
For me, the best choice for a title is: FORDSTRAUME. As suitable as LaFleur might be for some (it’s not only Sawyer’s Dharma name, but it’s also the code word that James uses while undercover in the flash sideways), James and Miles’ surnames smashed together creates a far more powerful title.
It sounds like the kind of classic retro cop show that you’d find re-runs of on midday television programming. “Remember Ford and Straume? Of course you do. Kick back in your armchairs for an entire afternoon with everyone’s favourite bickering duo,” a television announcer might state on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Just like Columbo or Miami Vice, it’s a bold title that’s full of manly poise and procedural clout.
The premise – An old-school buddy cop procedural
While ‘Recon’ focused mainly on Miles trying to set up James with Charlotte and Miles getting irate at James’ lie, the show would obviously have a procedural construct (but with a decent arc), focusing on week-by-week cases.
We would follow James and Miles as they tackle interesting cases, the challenges of enduring one another and the eternal dilemma of getting James to settle down with a woman. It’s very similar to what’s going on right now in the Lethal Weapon TV show and I’m sure that the writers of ‘Recon’ might have had the original Lethal Weapon films in mind when writing the script for this LOST episode.
While the show should be visually modern, the style should hark back to the best old-school cheesy cop shows. Think (or look up) Police Story and you’ll get a rough idea. The focus – above all else – should be the complex bromance between James and Miles; this is the crux of the show and the reason that viewers will return each week.
The references – Cop films, cop shows and cop literature
In ‘Recon’, James refers to the Steve McQueen film Bullitt, highlighting it as a reason for why he became a cop (before Charlotte calls him on this lie). Irrelevant of James lying about the film, it’s still a solid reference to a film that holds a similar sort of old school machismo to what I would want from FORDSTRAUME.
Just like LOST, the spin-off should also be loaded with references to classic films, TV and literature. Since this is a procedural, these references should mainly be to cop films, cop TV shows and cop literature (but not exclusively; even in ‘Recon’, James watches Little House on the Prairie).
These need not be a straight mention of the title either; they could be a quote from those works. Imagine James and Miles finding out the name of a notorious criminal for the first time and James stating:
“You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna catch me the cowboy that’s never been caught. Cowboy desperado.”
Which is a direct line from 1978’s The Driver. And Miles would then probably be baffled at this and James would chide him for not knowing the film. There’s a whole host of wonderful reference possibilities that could be made.
The side-characters – LOST characters and new faces
In ‘Recon’ the side characters were often other characters from the main timeline (Charlotte, Liam, etc.). This was due to the plot of the sixth season. If we did get an entire James and Miles show, I don’t see a problem with continuing to bring in other characters from the core timeline. It would excite fans immensely and keep LOSTies returning.
From Cindy to Dave, you could bring in a whole host of guest characters, all playing different versions of their true selves (as is normal for the flash sideways, which the whole of Forstraume would have to be set within). However, in ‘Recon’ none of these LOST character actually played other police colleagues.
I think some brand new faces should be brought in to fill the roles of James and Miles’ other cop buddies. Think of the current Lethal Weapon TV show and how great characters like Alejandro and Scorsese are. Around James and Miles we should have a diverse collection of police officers (including female characters), including a great police chief (a must in any great cop show). Lethal Weapon is doing all of this brilliantly; FORDSTRAUME could easily do it too.
The big bad – A larger than life villain
In an old school-style cop procedural, the big bad is absolutely crucial. Think of how well the Hawaii: Five-0 remake handled Wo Fat in its early seasons. Forstraume would need someone like this; someone physically adept, with a larger than life persona.
Think of the show in LOST that Nikki acted in – Exposé (which was a Charlie’s Angels-style show). This was pure action cheesiness. Wo Fat might have fit within a show like that and we would need a similarly cheesy yet refined villain for James and Miles to face off against. Someone who could match James in a fist fight and Miles in an intellectual conflict.
Again, this could be another character from LOST (Anthony Cooper would be the obvious choice, as James mentions wanting to hunt him down in ‘Recon’, but I don’t think he’s strong enough of a villain), but I think it would be better if this was an original villain and an original casting choice. The precise casting choice would need to be left in the hands of adept casting directors with time to play out the possibilities. Off the top of my head, I would love John Pyper-Ferguson to take on the role.
Like Anthony Cooper, the villain should have some deep connection to James (being the cooler member of our double act; the Martin Riggs, if you will). Something that draws our duo to cross legal lines in order to have even the remotest chance at taking this villain down for good.
The arc – Taking down the big bad
Although this would be a cop procedural, which by their very natures are case-of-the-week orientated, a strong arc is always crucial to any show. I would suggest using the aforementioned big bad as the crux of this arc. He could enter the narratively every now and then, to thoroughly outsmart both James and Miles.
This would keep the episodic content ticking over, with fans knowing that they could look forward to bold and life threatening narratives every time that the big bad showed up. As mentioned above, this villain would have some crucial tie to James, which could spur our duo to hunt him down.
Season 1 should culminate in a key face-off between our cop partners and the villain, with deep injuries inflicted on our duo and the villain coming out on top, but just barely. The best villains cross multiple seasons, so I would suggest keeping the big bad alive for Season 2.
Subsequent seasons – Evolving our duo
Season 2 onwards would see our duo’s bromance develop into an even stronger bond. The big bad’s power would lessen and over time our duo would catch him, leading to some superb one-on-one interrogation conversations.
As with many cop shows, the potential for a multitude of seasons is very possible, as long as the ratings hold up. The good thing about a spin-off is that you already have a strong core-audience to draw from (LOST fans), who will invest time in the show simply because it spins off of something that they adore.
I hope you enjoyed my foray into this road not taken. As stated earlier, I don’t expect this spin-off to ever happen in a million years, but in a time where LOST is in the firing line to be the next show to undergo the remake/spin-off treatment, it’s fun to yearn for the one LOST spin-off that all fans (jokingly or seriously) would actually love to see.
Image credits: ABC