...Another critical hit, Lost, wraps up its season with a two-hour show on Wednesday. But unlike House,Lost decided to go ahead with its Michigan connection without any input from the school — a move that at first was a tad unsettling for Doyle, the film office chief.
She found out about it while watching the show.
"I was sitting in the living room with my husband and said 'Oh my goodness!' I won't quote exactly what I said. (It was) more colorful than that," she said, laughing.
The university talked about it, but opted against reaching out to the Lost producers to discuss the use of the name.
"We decided to let it ride," Doyle said. "As time goes on, it's more apparent they're (the Dharma Initiative) not horrible people."
But, much like the show itself, they're plenty mysterious.
According to an "orientation film" played during a past Lost episode, Dharma is described as being the brainchild of the DeGroots, who "imagined a large-scale communal research compound where scientists and freethinkers from around the globe could pursue research in meteorology, psychology, parapsychology" and other disciplines.
During this season, viewers finally are getting a better idea of how Dharma-types lived and worked on the island setting of the show, which through its time-travel trippiness sent its main characters 30 years into the past.
With Dharma at the forefront of the current season, the Michigan references have been coming at a greater frequency, with a Dharma resident in a recent episode threatening to "call Ann Arbor" to settle a dispute.
Lost executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof stress that the decision to base the Dharma folks at a 1970s-era U of M should be viewed as a compliment. After all, Cuse said, they chose the school because of its reputation as "a real center of intellectuality."
"There was an incredibly vital university academic community, and we just felt like acknowledging that by making the characters from there was just kind of cool and very sort of appropriate for the time," he said.
Cuse and Lindelof say to expect the Dharma-Michigan connection to play a significant role as the show heads into next season, its sixth and final one.