Well, the dread weekend is finally here. Or, should I say, is it a weekend of relief?
"Lost" ends Sunday night, and ABC is making an event of it. On Saturday at 8 p.m., ABC airs the original "Lost" pilot. On Sunday, the network begins its "Lost" weekend with a two-hour retrospective of the series beginning at 7 p.m., followed by a two-and-a-half hour finale at 9 p.m., followed by a special edition of "The Jimmy Kimmel Show," featuring unseen clips and interviews with most of the key actors in the series. You can't say ABC isn't going all out with this.
And, you know what? They should.
As "Lost" wraps up, it's legacy is that there's never been quite like it on television. It's a series that kept re-inventing itself and trying things that no one had ever thought of before, challenging its viewers with all sorts of quantum dynamics featuring flashbacks, flashforwards and a parallel universe.
The producer dropped in dozens of Easter eggs every episode, some of which were red herrings, but others that gave insight into storylines and paid off for the viewers that paid attention.
Certainly, it's hard to think of any series since the original "Prisoner" 40 years ago that challenged a viewer to think so much, and I can think of only "Battlestar Galactica" as a modern series that put forth ethical debates so clearly without being manipulative of the viewer (which knocks out every David E. Kelley series ever done).
"Lost" has given us a bevy of original characters, all of whom who are deeply flawed yet equally compelling.
The series lost a lot of viewers after Season 1, many of whom found it too dense to keep track of. But this wasn't a series built for a broad, wide-ranging appeal. I think the viewers who have stuck with it for six seasons will generally agree that it's been rewarding enough to try to figure out not only the answers, but what the correct questions are.
Will Sunday's finale satisfy everyone? No. These days, series finales come with so much hype that it's hard for producers to deliver something that meets those expectations. Certainly, I don't think Team Darlton will deliver a cop-out the size of "The Sopranos" finale, which set up a stupid, artiificial cliffhanger by having the screen go dark at the end.
But there will be questions that likely won't be answered. But that's OK.
A series that made us debate next to the watercoolers and online for six years should leave us something to argue over for a long time to come.
(P.S. Darlton -- Give us the Sawyer/Miles buddy cop spinoff!)
WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Surprisingly, there is other stuff this weekend besides "Lost."
CBS wraps up the seasons for "Ghost Whisperer," "Medium" and "Miami Medical" tonight.
Meanwhile, "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.) is just getting rolling. On cable, there's new episodes of "Stargate Universe" and "Merlin" from 9-11 p.m.
On Saturday, the Doctor and Amy battle vampires on "Doctor Who" (BBC America, 9 p.m.)
On Sunday, if you aren't part of the crowd tuning into "Lost," "The Simpsons" (Fox, 8 p.m.) wraps up its 900th season by having Moe join the "American Idol" judges. Frankly, considering some of the names mentioned as replacements for Simon Cowell, I think Moe stacks up favorably. It's followed by the "Cleveland Show" season finale, and the one-hour "Family Guy" parody of "Empire Strikes Back" at 9 p.m., which is worth watching, trust me.
"The Apprentice" (NBC, 9 p.m.) reveals its winner live, though I doubt Bret Michaels will be participating because of his health issues.
"Masterpiece Mystery" (PBS, 9 p.m.) kicks off a new "Miss Marple" series.
On cable, there's a new "Breaking Bad" (AMC, 10 p.m.), while on the premium channels, you can watch a new "Tudors" (Showtime, 9 p.m.) and "Treme" (HBO, 10 p.m.)