And if you watch LOST on a regular basis you already know the basics:
The island is a magical place which can be moved in space and time.
People are drawn there by mysterious forces.
A black smoke monster lives there.
But pregnant women die.
Benjamin Linus, leader of 'the others', is angry and controlling (and murderous)…until he isn't.
Jack has what it takes.
Kate loves Jack.
Then she loves Sawyer.
Then Sawyer loves Juliette until she dies.
Locke is also dead.
Hurley and Miles talk to dead people, but not to Locke.
Obviously LOST is one crazy show—crazy like a magic mushroom trip or a Lewis Carroll story. And yet somehow the writers persuade us to buy into their surreal vision week after week. Polar bears in a tropical jungle, smoke monsters inhabiting dead bodies, talking ghosts with hidden agendas and time travel back to 1973? Sure, we think. Why not? But on a lesser show all this trippy stuff would never fly. A lesser show would've run out of steam back when the tailies were eliminated or collapsed under the weight of its countless questions. So why does LOST work no matter how far out the storylines get?
I think that, like The X-Files' Fox Mulder, we want to believe. We want to believe because we genuinely like the Oceanic Survivors, whose weaknesses are as interesting as their strengths and who we can see struggling (and sometimes failing) to be better people. The characters have bonded in an entirely convincing way during their time on the island and we've bonded with them. One of LOST's biggest strengths is how tightly bound the characters' fates are to each other's. Charlie Pace didn't drown in the Looking Glass station trying to escape the island because of a burning personal desire to return home. He risked his life for Claire and for his friends. This show isn't about any one person being a hero or a villain. It's about surviving, together. “Live together, die alone.”
Three dimensional characters + adversity. That's no formula, just fantastic writing and distinguished acting. Man, I'm going to miss LOST.