The countdown has officially begun. The final season of Lost will begin on Feb. 2. That's a Tuesday for all of you who don't have an iCal on your mental desktop. I was initially jarred by this news: It's hard to think of the series being on any other night but Wednesday. (Never mind the aberration that was the Thursday digression of 2008, i.e., the strike-impacted season 4.) I will miss marking the middle of the week by slipping through the looking glass and chasing white rabbits of thought for the theory food this column serves up each week. And so we offer a Thanksgiving salute and bid adieu to our mutual friend, the Lost Wednesday, with this, the first official Doc Jensen ramble of the new and last season of Lost. Beginning next week, we post on Tuesdays, and I can promise you that our December columns will be chockablock with all the spotty insight, suspect intellect, and specious scholarship you have come to rely on plus a few newsy scoops and legitimately pearly nuggets. Let's start prepping for The End with...
STATUS REPORT: SEASON 6
Based only on info released or confirmed by the producers. While you won't find any spoilerific ''Transmissions'' here, I encourage anyone who has endeavored to remain deliberately ignorant about Lost 6.0 to skip over the next several paragraphs.
What we know? Lost began production in August and just finished shooting the eighth episode of its 16-episode, 18-hour season, which includes a two-hour premiere and a two-hour finale. The title of the first episode: ''LA X.'' At Comic-Con last July, exec producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof showed three short videos a Mr. Cluck's commercial with millionaire Hurley, an America's Most Wanted segment about fugitive Kate, and an Oceanic Airlines ad touting its spotless safety record that contained details that deviated from established continuity. Did Juliet succeed in changing history by detonating Jughead in the Dharma Initiative past? The producers say: That's exactly the question we should be asking. (I'll have more thoughts in this issue in the READER MAIL section.)
Who's in, who's out... Emilie de Ravin's maybe-dead Claire last seen haunting Kate's dreams and hanging with Ghost Christian in Jacob's shack rejoins the narrative in a big way after going MIA last season. A number of certifiably deceased characters will be making seemingly inexplicable return appearances this coming season, including Charlie (Dominic Monaghan, now of FlashForward), Boone (Ian Somerhalder, now of The Vampire Diaries), and birthday-ambiguous Charlotte (Rebecca Mader, who can currently be seen in The Men Who Stare At Goats). The producers also recently told my colleague Dan Snierson that Juliet is indeed toes up but actress Elizabeth Mitchell will materialize at least twice during the final sweep of episodes. (Let's take a moment and shoot furious eye darts of blazing indignation at her new show, V, for completely letting Mitchell down with mediocre material.) Nestor Carbonell (Richard Alpert) has been promoted to series regular. Henry Ian Cusick, who plays Desmond Hume, will not be a series regular this season, but it's believed we haven't seen the last of the ex-Hatchman.
...and who's new: Hiroyuki Sanada, a popular Japanese actor who worked with Matthew Fox in Speed Racer, has been cast as a character named Dogen. (New Lost Philosopher Reference Alert! Dogen Zenji was a fabled Zen Buddhist teacher.) John Hawkes (Deadwood) has been cast as Lennon, whose name has me humming ''Imagine'' while painfully recalling that time in high school when I took a test about Russian history and I got docked one full grade for consistently misspelling ''Lenin'' as ''Lennon.'' Damn the corrupting mind virus that is the Beatles! Other familiar faces/names scheduled to appear this season: Sheila Kelley (L.A. Law, Sisters) and William Atherton, the always-entertaining character actor who specializes in playing... well, a--holes.
NEXT PAGE: Status Report continued, and superfan Doc Arzt takes questions