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Television: Lost is Found:

When it was announced that Lost would be taking a very long hiatus no one really complained; by then, the show was like a snake eating its own tail. Writers had to find new ways to keep the increasingly outlandish mystery of those castaways from Oceanic Flight 815 from going stale. The show had gone stale, though, and a long break was just what it needed.

The third season finale showed audiences that the castaways do get off of the island but they are never the same. We saw a frazzled and pill-addicted Jack and a great looking Kate, but all Jack wanted was to go back to the island. Why did he want to go back? Why wasn’t life working for him in the future? Those were the burning questions, among others, we were left with last year when Lost went on its eight-month break.

The fourth season opener focuses on Hurley in modern life seeing ghosts. He sees the ghost of Charlie and it frightens him enough to land him in a mental hospital. Hurley is no longer a wealthy lottery recipient and is continually haunted by the past. Then we flash back to the island, just after Charlie gave his life to allow transmissions off of the island to attract the rescuers.

The formula for Lost has changed; there is still a lot of intensity with not a lot of deeper meaning. The season premiere is much more like the early days of Lost because nothing is known and there is much to figure out. Lost was always at its best when delineating the flashbacks of the characters. Now, the future is going to be the interesting part.

The big mystery fans will be eager to solve will be who are the “Oceanic 6?” That is, the six people who get off the island and become famous as a result. We know that Jack, Kate, and Hurley are three of them, but we don’t yet know whom the other three will be. What will have happened to Sawyer? Who got left on the island and what happened to them? Finally, why does the island want them to go back so badly?

By the looks of it, there is still some romantic heat in the Kate, Jack and Sawyer triangle but we already know, from the close of last season, that Kate and Jack don’t live happily ever after. So far, two groups on the island divided up in order to get saved. We’ll have to wait a while before the whole thing finally explains itself. Or not. The network has said it will all be over by 2010 – that leaves two more years of cliffhangers.

This past week, news emerged that the Writers Strike is likely coming to an end, which means that the TV season will be back on, and not a moment too soon. With the Oscars coming up in a few weeks and already weak ratings, ABC needs a boost these days. Lost’s return is no doubt doing the job but it can’t do it alone.

Lost attracted a large audience when this last season premiered, but overall, the premiere was down from the previous season’s premiere. On the other hand, the Neilson ratings now take DVR usage into account, which shows a big improvement in viewership in the days following the premiere. Either way, the show gets watched. The strike has slowed down the television schedule, and February will likely bring out the last of the new episodes of all our favorite shows. Lost happened to get lucky in that it wasn’t planning on showing its new episodes until this month anyway. It won’t experience any lag time nor will it have to work very hard to build up its audience, especially if it keeps turning out episodes as good as this.

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