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by Ben Kromer & r & & r & LOST (Wednesdays, 10 pm, ABC) & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & L & lt;/span & ike many cynical creeps, I've long thought of faith as a useless appendage -- the brain's appendix. My mom tells me I should read the Bible, but every time I try, I wind up skipping to Revelation, with the great red dragon and the Lovecraftian horrors and the end of the world. The Bible isn't called the Good Book because it's actually a good book; it's called that because it might save your soul and repel vampires.

I suppose I'm spoiled for desiring a mythology that's entertaining, but I wasn't expecting to find it in a TV show with the same basic premise as Gilligan's Island, yet here we are. Lost's mythos has been developing for two seasons and clearly incorporates every wonky idea the creators ever thought of. After more than 50 episodes, I still have no clue about what's on going with the plot, which would be intolerable if every episode wasn't focused on one of the many shockingly likeable characters. Shocking in the sense that the writers went to the trouble of making them flawed but sympathetic, rather than the troubled and edgy people you find in other shows. The difference is depth.

I'm diverting myself with good characterization, having faith that the larger plot will wind out as convincingly as the individual characters do. This is risky both for me and for ABC. If the solutions aren't forthcoming, or if they come and completely suck, the show's ruined. ABC will have alienated me, and I'll have wasted the countless hours watching and waiting. If that happens, I won't say, "Lost was really great until the last couple episodes when it turned out the island was actually a giant turtle and that explained everything." I'll just say "Screw Lost."

The creators assure us that won't happen. They say they're not concerned that Season Three's ratings are down because they're looking at the big picture. The big picture, they promise, is a five-year story arc with a dignified end and all questions answered.

Though faith isn't typically merit-based, Lost's creators have earned it by designing two-and-one-third seasons of unmatched fantasy programming. If they're going to start slipping, they haven't shown signs yet. That's more of a Jack Sheppard-style empirical observation than anything my man John Locke would say, but it works for me.

79th annual Academy Awards

Hosted by Ellen Degeneres. My Oscar prediction: not as good as Jon Stewart, better than Whoopi Goldberg and Chris Rock, with the usual terrible music, pointless montages and embarrassing banter. I want Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed to win everything. (Sunday, 2/25, 5 pm, ABC)

Masters of Horror

Showtime is in its second season of providing a gruesome alternative to the tepid PG-13 ghost stories that pass for big-screen horror, with every episode directed by a different "Master of Horror." The quality varies wildly, since some of these guys are "horror masters" the way Subway employees are "sandwich artists." The next episode is "The Black Cat," based on the Poe story and directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator). (Saturday, 2/24, 10 pm, Showtime Beyond)

30 Rock

If you already have a nerdy crush on Tina Fey, this show will make it worse. "Don't be lonely, TV version of Tina Fey," I tell the moving picture box. "I'll be your boyfriend." I never did that for Studio 60, which is why it's cancelled now. (Thursday, 2/22, 9:30 pm, NBC)

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