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TV THIS WEEK : THE BIG THING

This isle beguiles

January 27, 2008|Robert Lloyd

When last we saw the many stranded castaways of "Lost," it looked as though they were about to get off the island -- indeed, the flash-forward threaded through last season's finale told us that they had, with perhaps catastrophic results. (That flash-forward made a kind of temporal sense, as in the timeline of the series: The survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 are stuck not only on that uncharted desert isle but back in 2004, the story having covered only three months from their crash.)

For a show that can be compelling and vexing by turns, the twist into the future-present suggests a productive narrative recalibration -- new ways to come at a story that had begun to chase its own tail. There are only so many ways you can go on an island, after all, and the main characters had all been flashbacked to a fare-thee-well. Even on the best days "Lost" can lean a little heavily on the spooky coincidence, the not-what-it-seems-to-be revelation and the supernatural. (Anything can happen on a magical island -- and does.) But if the series sometimes stumbles, it always gets up again to do something really satisfying and fun.

I don't have any new-season revelations, except that they are not off the island yet, back there in 2004 (nearly 2005), among the polar bears, smoke monsters and electromagnetic anomalies. And that there are doubtless plenty of coincidences and revelations to come. And that between the flashbacks, the dreams and the apparitions, death is never the end for any "Lost" character. (Goodbye, Charlie, hello.)

ABC, 9 p.m. Thu. (season premiere)

-- Robert Lloyd

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