8 P.M., WFTS-Ch. 28
A bloodied young man awakens in a bamboo grove, then stumbles to the nearby oceanfront to confront a horror he shares with many: a jet crash, with pieces of the huge, doomed craft strewn across the island sand and passengers everywhere injured or crazed.
The man, Jack (Matthew Fox, Party of Five), happens to be a doctor, and the camera follows as he makes his heroic rounds at wholesale triage.
Fortunately, in this scene and throughout the two-hour pilot, Lost never loses its way. Thanks to stylish handling by J.J. Abrams (Alias), it stops just short of the grotesque in even its most extreme moments.
The survivors have to figure out where they are and try to get a message to the outside world. And there's one more hitch. As if bidding for Jurassic Park fans, Lost throws into the mix monstrous predators.
Will the radio recovered from the jetliner's cockpit, with its dying battery and crackly reception, prove to be the key? In any case, it figures in the premiere's cruel climax. And if you're not hooked on Lost before then, that twist could convince you: Here is a series worth getting lost with.
_ ASSOCIATED PRESS
10 P.M., WTSP-Ch. 10
In this latest member of the CSI franchise, Detective Mack Taylor (distinguished film and stage actor Gary Sinise) still grieves for his wife, killed in the World Trade Center three years ago. His partner, Detective Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes, Providence), is worried about him.
"Can't sleep?" she asks.
"What's sleep?" he replies.
Because he isn't sleeping, Taylor works around the clock, and the premiere episode provides a troubling case: Some psycho with control issues is trying to put women in a permanent coma state, just to keep them around.
You can't blame CBS for wanting to maximize a hit concept. (What's next? CSI: Peoria?) But the producers shouldn't lose sight of the need to entertain the audience.
Suggestion: Lighten up a little on CSI: NY.
_ ASSOCIATED PRESS
9 P.M., WTOG-Ch. 44; moves to its regular time slot (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.) next week.
UPN's promising new series Veronica Mars stars Kristen Bell (Deadwood) as the wonderfully spunky title character, a hard-boiled junior detective in the mold of Philip Marlowe.
Veronica lives in a wealthy, seaside California community where she has become one of the town's losers after her father, Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni, Just Shoot Me), lost his wife and job as sheriff after the mysterious and still unsolved murder of Veronica's best friend led to an investigation scandal.
Now considered a town pariah, Keith runs a struggling private investigation firm, where Veronica is his right-hand.
If handled right, Bell and Veronica Mars could do for UPN what Sarah Michelle Gellar and Buffy the Vampire Slayer did for the WB.
_ COX NEWS SERVICE
9 P.M., WTTA-Ch. 38
As a soapy take on business a la Dallas or Dynasty, this WB drama is somewhat of a bunny slope. The Carver family, led by reluctant mogul David, is, at heart, a close and loving bunch, down to teenage sister Shelly (Tara Thompson), a champion snowboarder. Gennie, the mom (Barbara Hershey), is devoted to her children and her charity foundation.
Meanwhile, the villains are insufficiently hissable. Even cutthroat tycoon Cowlin Dowling's (Mitch Pileggi) sexy Harvard-grad daughter (Elizabeth Bogush), who is dispatched to seduce David into selling out, falls for him.
Judging from the premiere, The Mountain is mostly a family drama about likable fitness freaks. Much of the hour is given over to glorious footage of winter-sports prowess amid beautiful scenery.
Maybe it's too healthy for its own good.
_ ASSOCIATED PRESS