Three episodes in, Lost is the best show on TV. Not the best genre show (and make no mistake, it IS a genre show), the best show. The premise is simple – a plane from Australia to the US crashes after losing radio contact, and changing course. It's at least a thousand miles from where it was supposed to be when it crashed. 48 passengers survive the crash, and end up on an island where huge, unseen creatures move in the jungle.
The show has several strenghs, starting with my main quibble with most current tv dramas – writing. JJ Abrams, creator of Alias, is much better in a format which makes it more difficult for him to indulge in his lust for cliffhangers, which is what turned me off Alias. Future episodes will features a couple of writers who are well known to genre fans – David Fury, better known to Buffy fans as "The Mustard Man", and the brilliant Paul Dini, creator of Batman Beyond, Batman: The Animated series, and others. Strong writing is the single most important ingredient in TV drama, and the episodes I've seen display it, while the writers' lineup promises more of the same.
But strong writing can fall flat without strong acting, and the cast of Lost seems to be one of the strongest I've seen on TV. Some are well known, such as Matthew Fox (Charlie, from A Party of Five), Harold Perrineau (Augustus Hill, from Oz, possibly the best cast tv show ever), Dominic Monaghan (Merry from the LoTR movies), and Daniel Dae Kim (Gavin Park from Angel, and he apparently played some character in the second season of 24). Others are relatively new faces, such as the lovely Evangeline Lilly (who will be a star soon, as she is both very good and very beautiful) and Jorge Garcia. It's a huge cast, and I've only mentioned some of the important players. And it is extremely solid. Fox and Lilly carry the first few episodes, but this seems to be set up as a true ensemble piece.
I've been turned off in the past by series with strong acting and writing, due to bad production values. Sometimes, this has been a mistake (look for a post in the next few weeks about how I learned to love Farscape), but usually, I just can't get over it when a series doesn't look good. Lost looks very, very good.
So there you have it. The total package. It's a mystery (well, a bunch of mysteries), it's character driven drama, it's got a great setup, and it is very well done. And I do believe it will have monsters soon, so what more can you ask for?