Plane crash, remote island, survivors and the long wait for rescue. The incredibly basic and hackneyed premise of enduring in the wilderness could easily have made “Lost” one of the most boring dramas on television. From the pilot episode in 2004, however, people quickly realized that the show as much more than a televised “Lord of the Flies.”
While the show does revolve around a group of about 20 survivors from a plane crash, each survivor carries substantial emotional baggage, chronicled through flashbacks that are sprinkled throughout every episode. And while the survivors are indeed trying to get off the island, their efforts are impeded by a host of things, including strange creatures who go bump in the night and a group of mysterious inhabitants called the “Others” who know a disconcerting amount about each of the survivors and constantly try to kidnap pregnant women.
Somehow, the writers of the show are able to make the story coherent while still providing enough mystery to leave the viewer thoroughly intrigued. As a startling finale to last season, for instance, viewers discovered in a surprise flash forward that the survivors indeed got off the island, but now — for some reason — they want to go back.
“Lost” is told as a single, convoluted story, so it can be hard to start watching the show midway. The first three seasons are available on DVD, while Lostpedia.com provides a quick and condensed summary of the most important events. Potential viewers should waste no time in catching up, as this season promise to be one of the most compelling. Thus far, on-island scenes have revealed mysterious parachutists with unknown intentions, while flash forwards have shown who gets off the island and who doesn’t.
As a word of caution, the show does dabble with annoyingly supernatural phenomena like a smoke monster and a man who can see into the future. Characters who should be dead often leave their coffins — no, they haven’t been buried alive (although two people have been and probably will show up again sometime soon).
Still, “Lost” is able to make up for this occasional shortcoming. Viewers usually leave each episode with almost as many questions as when they entered, but “Lost” keeps viewers on tenterhooks and thoroughly engaged. Instead of cursing the show for being too confusing, viewers eagerly await the answers to dozens of questions. Making absurd theories is half the fun, but you have to make sure to tune in every week.
The show is scheduled to end in 2010, and it is a comfort to know that the writers have planned out an ending and have some sort of outline of where the show is going. Despite this expert planning by the show’s crew, however, viewers can be quickly exasperated by ABC’s inability to skillfully schedule the show.
Each season has gone on hiatus for a frustratingly long four months halfway through, and viewers had to wait nine months after the climactic season three finale’s cliffhanger. Though the latter was not the fault of the picketing members of the Writers’ Guild of America, the fact that the fourth season is slated to go on a short break midway is indeed because of the strike.
Season four airs Thursday evenings at 9 p.m. on ABC, though it will shift to 10 p.m. in April. In the wake of the strike, most shows will have new episodes in April or in the fall, but “Lost” will have new episodes through March, making it worth the watch. Plus, there’s a polar bear on a desert island, which is quite rare anywhere else.