Question Celebrity

By With Hank Stuever
Sunday, May 1, 2005

The television series "Lost," created by J.J. Abrams with Damon Lindelof, reminds many of us of the abuse we suffered from David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" and Chris Carter's "The X-Files"--how we watched those shows beyond all reasonable limits of loyalty, waiting for the deliberately opaque Lynch and Carter to grant their audiences anything in the way of satisfaction, closure, solution. We never got it.

And so we're drawing the line here, saying "no": no to the complicated plot lines of "Lost" that never budge an inch. No to the ceaseless, layered mysteries that will never be solved. No to the hidden details, objects, phrases and numbers that actually have no meaning whatsoever. No to the picture of Matthew Fox wearing tight pants in the latest GQ. (Well, yes, but no.)

Television reporters confronted Abrams earlier this year, demanding to know whether the essential thread of "Lost"--several dozen people survive an airline crash on an uncharted Pacific island and must now survive one another, polar bears and other beasts--was really leading anywhere, or if the writers were, in fact, in over their heads. The producers and writers say there's a method to their madness and that "Lost" will soon make sense. Theories about the show abound: The castaways are actually in Purgatory. The plane crash was a government experiment in human behavior.

Really, it's about B-list television stars who chanced into a decent pilot episode and now find themselves trapped in "Lost," and who will be back for another season. It's about the audacity of Abrams--pitching "Lost" to ABC without any plan for what happens next. Why can't "Lost" just be one season long, wrap up its tale in a taut and captivating manner, and then let everyone move on? Because that would be artistically sensible, but bad for network profits, syndication deals, etc. Because that does not take into account the creator's estimation of his genius or the cast members' sense of their own star power. Imagine not an enigmatic tropical island but a cork bulletin board in a network conference room, covered in index cards, none of them making sense. That's what the people at "Lost" hope we never discover.

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