Big changes for ‘Lost,’ more characters for ‘Housewives,’ new lady lovers for ‘The O.C.’

Robert Taylor

“Lost”: Confusing CastawaysABC, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

What a difference two months make. I was enthralled with “Lost” before Christmas, but something has occurred to me over the past two episodes: The producers are so intent on keeping every secret on the island for as long as possible that any payoffs will not live up to viewers’ expectations.

I don’t mind mysteries with long build-ups (look no further than UPN’s “Veronica Mars” to see how to carry an overarching mystery throughout a season), but the lengths the producers are going to in order to keep their secrets is ludicrous.

After the exceptional tension built up from Emilie de Ravin’s Claire being kidnapped last year, the “payoff” left me shaking my head in disgust. She returns to the camp still pregnant with “sort-of” amnesia that prevents her from remembering anything about the background of her kidnapper or what he did to her, but it allows her to remember enough about Dominic Monaghan’s Charlie to continue their cutesy courtship? Please.

Once five castaways cornered Claire’s kidnapper and all had guns trained at him, do the producers let him give even a minute clue as to why he did it? No, he gets blown away instead, effectively ending the mystery without giving any closure.

Last week’s edition was even worse. Did I actually watch an entire episode about a boar stalking Josh Holloway’s Sawyer? I know it’s a metaphor, but it’s a damn sloppy one that is more laughable than believable.

The flashbacks aren’t serving any purpose either. Charlie’s flashback about stealing to get his fix added nothing to the mythology and acted more like an excuse for his acts later that episode. And now suddenly all the actors in the flashbacks have facial hair even though they didn’t in their first or second flashbacks. Again, sloppy.

Allowing so many interesting mysteries to remain untouched for so long is unfair and careless. With only seven episodes left this season, how will the audience get any sort of payoffs with the dozen or so subplots? Where has the French woman gone? What’s that thing in the ground? How about the monster? What did Kate do? Where is Jack’s father’s body? What about Claire’s baby? Why should I care about any of these things when there is no way they will pay off properly before summer hiatus?

“Desperate Housewives”: Where’s The Cast?ABC, Sundays at 9 p.m.

One of the principal strengths of “Desperate Housewives” is its ability to introduce new characters in every episode and immediately have us bond with them and want to see their story continue. This is also its biggest weakness because it takes screen time away from the rest of the cast and the overarching mysteries.

Take Ryan Carnes’ Justin. He’s quirky (trying to sleep with Gabrielle because he thinks he might be gay), interesting, and I want to see how he copes with his homosexuality (though he loses some points for being interested in the antichrist, whoops, I mean Andrew). I want to see his character again, but by the same token he doesn’t add anything to the mystery of Mary Alice and I want to see that resolved even more.

Between the whopping 13 regulars and 20 oft-recurring characters, something is going to be lost. I was surprised when the latest episode didn’t bring out Nicollette Sheridan’s Edie to talk to the kids of Wisteria Lane about sex; the episode needed an adult voice that opposed Bree’s (Marcia Cross) strict values. In fact, when was the last time we even saw Edie? Three episodes ago? Quite a long time to keep one of the main cast off-screen.

So the mysteries inch slowly forward, with “Desperate Housewives” now concentrating more on characterization and less on its driving force. It hasn’t hurt the show’s quality noticeably, but it could in the future unless these newbies aren’t tied in directly with the mythology.

“The O.C.”: Look Out For Stalker Seth!

Fox, Thursdays at 8 p.m.


Okay, I’ll admit it: Marissa and Alex are cute together. I haven’t decided if they are worthy of a joint title to represent their relationship, or whether I’ll call them Marrisalex or Alerissa if I decide to give them one, but I’m cautiously optimistic about their relationship.

The rest of the show is a mess. Moments that could be played for high drama feel like twice-warmed-over pizza. Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) finally had her face-off with home wrecker Rebecca (Kim Delaney, who should just admit she’s meant for Lifetime and be done with it). And do we get a catfight for the ages? No, we get Kirsten acting like she’s talking to a kindergartner and no climax. The two women just looked like they ran out of things to say and left the room by different doors.

Seth is officially ruined. His rants and raves used to be fun and cute because we could all identify with the poor schlub, but now he’s more like a creepy stalker guy who won’t leave Summer and Zach alone. Why would Zach talk to Seth again after the way Seth treated him and Summer on the road trip and later badgered both of them about if they had sex or not? Seth didn’t shower, eat or shave for five days because he wasn’t getting what he wanted! The guy needs meds, and fast.

Next week: Everything that has been building all season will come to a climax, or at least that’s what Fox is saying. The only problem is nothing has been building because the characters have been sleepwalking for three months, so how could anything climax?

Contact pop arts reporter Robert Taylor at [email protected].