It's tempting to talk at length about the two-hour premiere of "Lost," except that most people wouldn't understand it, and the ones who did would want to kill me for giving too much away.

It’s tempting to talk at length about the two-hour premiere of “Lost,” except that most people wouldn’t understand it, and the ones who did would want to kill me for giving too much away. So we’ll keep this uncharacteristically brief: The ABC series remains one of primetime’s most uncompromising efforts, and this year’s latest wrinkle on flashbacks, flash-forwards and island-disappearing flashes of light does nothing to alter that perception, for better (if you love it, you should still) and worse (if you didn’t, the fortitude to stick around will probably be tested).

Indeed, the smartest thing ABC ever did (after considerable cajoling, and a little threatening, by producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse) was to set an end date, offering hope of definitive answers before the show’s fringe audience throws its hands up in exasperation. As is, it’s difficult to fathom how every thread — the weird numerical sequence, the invisible guy in the shed, the “I see dead people” moments — can be resolved in the allotted time.

“Lost” nevertheless approaches its twists with what appears to be a greater degree of intellectual rigor than almost anything else on primetime. Even when it’s difficult to keep track of the myriad connections, a sense lingers that somebody knows — which is strangely reassuring.

Having bounced around ABC’s schedule, the series returns to Wednesdays, where the presence of Fox’s “American Idol” — funneling viewers toward the new drama “Lie to Me” — provides yet another potential drain on ratings. On the plus side, the preordained 2010 finale means that after Jan. 21 there are only 32 hours to go, and I don’t plan on missing a single one of them.

Lost

ABC, Wed. Jan. 21, 9 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Hawaii by Bad Robot in association with ABC Studios. J.J. Abrams. Damon Lindelof, Bryan Burk, Carlton Cuse, Jack Bender, Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz; directors, Stephen Williams, Bender; writers, Lindelof, Cuse, Kitsis, Horowitz.

Crew

Running Time: 120 MIN.

Cast

Sayid - Naveen Andrews Desmond - Henry Ian Cusick Daniel Faraday - Jeremy Davies Ben - Michael Emerson Jack - Matthew Fox Hurley - Jorge Garcia Sawyer - Josh Holloway Sun - Yunjin Kim Miles - Ken Leung Kate - Evangeline Lilly Juliet - Elizabeth Mitchell Locke - Terry O'Quinn
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