In 1977, I was 5 when my dad took me to see "Star Wars." During the course of the movie, Ben Kenobi went to great lengths to explain the Force, a mysterious energy pattern that ran through everything which could be used for good or evil.
Dad explained to me that the Force was symbolic for God. Whatever your explanation for what the Force represents, the point is, it was a mysterious thing not meant to be understood.
Then, 20 years later, George Lucas tried to explain the Force by defining it as the amount of symbiotic cells in your blood called Midi-Chlorians. In one fell swoop, Lucas had reduced this beautiful, mysterious concept to a bunch of parasites living in your blood. The more of the midis, the stronger you were with the Force, and apparently if your name is Skywalker, you've got a bunch.
The mystery, and the magic, was gone.
So, what does this have to do with the season premiere of "Lost" (ABC, 9 p.m.), you may ask? Simply this: No series on TV poses more of these mysterious concepts than "Lost" does.
What is the island? Who is Jacob and the man in the dark clothes? How can characters be healed? What is the black smoke monster? Et cetera, et cetera.
Coming into the show's final season, fans are going to expect answers to a lot of these questions, and Team Darlton (Damon Lindleof and Carlton Cuse) have to come up with those answers.
Sure, many of the conventional questions, such as whom will Kate pick between Jack and Sawyer, or will Jin and Sun be reunited, will be answered in some form. Those questions are interesting, but not mysterious.
The deeper, symbolic stuff is, and I hope that the answers prvided aren't some sort of midi-chlorians designed to provide some quick and easy answer because the questions became too difficult.
When Patrick McGoohan created and starred in "The Prisoner" (the original, not the terrible remake), many of the series' big questions were left unanswered, or answered in such a way where you could take it to mean multiple things.
Like the best of art, it was open to the individual's interpretation. I think "Lost" is on a similar wavelength. Some answers will be straightforward, while others are left up to the individual.
And I think that's how it should end up. It's hard to name a series that has generated more internet chatter than "Lost," with so many questions debated over and over on various internet chat rooms and message boards. I think that has given the series its enduring appeal.
So, remember tonight and for the next four months, not to build up the anticipation for answers too much in your own mind. That only leads to midi-chlorians and disappointment.
TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Before the premiere, "Lost" airs a one-hour wrapup/reminder that I highly recommend to refresh people's memories.
On the other channels, "The Good Wife" (CBS, 10 p.m.) returns as Alicia (Julianna Marguiles) defends a possible killer in guest star Dylan Baker. It follows new episodes of "NCIS" and "NCIS: LA."
Fox offers reality programming with "American Idol" and "Hell's Kitchen" from 8-10 p.m., while NBC has a new "Biggest Loser" at 9 p.m.
On cable, Neal and Peter take on organ harvesters on "White Collar" (USA, 10 p.m.), while "Southland" (TNT, 10 p.m.) is new for that network.