Friday, Dec. 17, 2004

Lost (ABC)

The polar bear sealed the deal. Plenty of entertainers would have stranded a cast on a desert island (Sherwood Schwartz and Mark Burnett, for starters). Others would have had the plane-crash survivors discover that the island contained menacing secrets. But only creators J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof would have had the castaways attacked, in the middle of a tropical jungle, by a polar bear. That kind of so-bizarre-you-have-to-buy-it twist hooked us on Lost; what keeps us were the equally surprising revelations of its characters' backstories. (Terry O'Quinn, in particular, shines as a paraplegic office drone whose ability to walk, along with his self-respect, is miraculously restored in the crash.) A gritty survival story plus a sci-fi mystery plus a character drama plus a story of a society starting from scratch — Lost is a teetering Dagwood sandwich of pop culture genres and references, and every week, it leaves you hungry for more.