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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 August, 2005, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Lost crashes onto UK television
By Peter Bowes
BBC News, Los Angeles

Lost follows plane crash survivors who are stranded on a desert island
Lost, a new TV drama that has already developed a cult following in the United States, made its UK debut on Channel 4 on Wednesday.

The story revolves around the aftermath to a passenger jet crash on a desert island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. While many die, there are dozens of survivors.

The show's first series aired in the US and Canada last year.

"I am so jealous. You guys are about to have this experience that we had last year and it is a revelation," said Rob Salem, TV critic for the Toronto Star.

Storylines intertwined

"It's nice because it has such layers of plot development, incredible characters. It's beautifully shot and is written and directed by some of the best people in the business."

The drama focuses on the passengers as they struggle for survival on the tropical island. It also revisits their lives before the crash.

The storylines are tantalisingly intertwined. There is a suggestion that the drama will evolve to a point where the characters are shown, in some way, to be linked before boarding the plane.

The island itself is spooky and mysterious. There is an air of the supernatural.

Lost has 26 speaking characters rather than two or three main stars
"It is relatable in a universal way, said Sam Ruben, entertainment reporter for Los Angeles TV station KTLA.

"Everyone has travelled by airplane - it's a thing we all fear - this notion of being lost in the middle of nowhere."

"The mystery unfolds so slowly and so deliciously," said Mr Salem.

"Every episode has little nuggets of major character or plot revelations. We are about to go into the second series here and we have more questions than when we started."

Lost has been a runaway success for the ABC network in the US.

With the airwaves dominated by reality programming, highly-produced drama has become something of a novelty on primetime TV.

It came out of nowhere to be as well-regarded as it is
Sam Ruben,
KTLA entertainment reporter
The network rolled the dice by investing in one of the most expensive pilots ever.

The two-hour show, which featured scenes of extreme violence, cost approximately $10m (5.58m).

"It's surprisingly good and I think it came out of nowhere to be as well-regarded as it is," said Mr Ruben.

'Scattershot approach'

"The thing they did very deliberately - which is an interesting notion - was a scattershot approach to the casting.

"The pilot script had 26 speaking parts. Usually in American television there's two or three main leads.

"The idea here was, 'let's throw out enough characters - and some of them will catch on'. As it turned out almost all of them have caught on."

Each episode reveals major character or plot developments
The show has a large cast but no stand-out stars. One of its notable characters is a spinal surgeon called Jack Shephard, played by Matthew Fox.

Lost is one of a new breed of show that has captivated audiences in recent years. Like 24 and Desperate Housewives, the story rolls over on a weekly basis.

"People are not only willing but are quite happy to become addicted and can't wait to tune in," explained Mr Salem.

"It's revived 'must-see TV' - you cannot miss this week's episode because it picks up on what happened last week."

"There was a lot of scepticism going in that people would buy this ongoing mystery - and would emotionally invest in it.

"Now of course they can't get enough of it. As a result we might see the entire genre burn up in an entire year, but in the meantime we're getting some awfully compelling TV."

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