It’s been one of the TV highlights of the last decade – so why does Conor Barry always find himself having to defend LOST and not praise it?

For such a freakishly successful show, it seems bizarre that every time LOST is mentioned in conversation I feel as if I have to defend it. It’s like the child that everyone gave up on; he showed such promise when he was young, but grew up into a weird lanky freak ranting about time travel and magic. And while a lot of people have completely lost (ho ho!) hope, there’s enough to make me think that going into the final season, LOST might actually pull the whole thing off and prove the naysayers and abandoners wrong.

Part of the reason people have such a vendetta against the show is because they were duped into watching a science fiction programme. It started as a serving of “will they, won’t they” sexual tension with a bit of “hey, what’s in this hatch?” on the side, but by season five it had grown to have everyone travelling through time, becoming ghosts, and fighting a cloud of smoke while Kate and Sawyer shag in a bear cage. It’s safe to say the show has changed quite a bit. It’s as if you were watching Castaway and someone came into the room, snapped the DVD in half and shoved in The X-Files. So people are understandably peeved at being tricked.

But what’s just plain irritating is the crowd who claim that LOST either doesn’t make any sense, or that it will never come up with answers to the insane number of questions it has given. While there is a bunch of questions I’ll doubt they’ll ever properly answer (Remember Walt, the weird psychic boy? They’ll probably just silently ignore that one), the show’s writers, in fairness, have answered a bunch. What’s in the hatch? An lunatic Scottish man who has to push a button every 108 minutes or else the world will explode. Why would it explode? Magnets or something. Genius. Even the history of the island is being explained in part – there was the Dharma Initiative in the 70s, testing on sharks and so on; before that there was some Egyptian malarkey, and everyone praised a giant statue occupied by a ghost man named Jacob. See? They know what they’re doing.

People who gave up on the show early also missed out on some of the best characters. Anyone remember Nikki and Paolo? They were the couple crowbarred into the cast before audience uproar forced the writers to kill them off by burying them alive. Then there was the eye-patched former Soviet soldier whose brain was fried, was shot in the chest with a harpoon but still survived just to blow himself up underwater. And last, but by no means least, Daniel Faraday, the awkward physicist who gave the show some fake science credibility. Time travel is believable if Faraday says so!

Yes, the dialogue is cheesy and the writers have a strange fixation on getting rid of plot problems by blowing them up (the hatch, the submarine, Charlie), but that’s part of the charm. And despite LOST’s blatant stupidity it does actually have an interesting philosophical subtext that you don’t really see in shows like Desperate Housewives and House. Having said that, if the show wasn’t so stupidly over the top I’d more than likely have given up on it long ago. But perhaps the fact that someone needs to die or explode every five to ten minutes says more about my attention span than the quality of the show.

As for the coming final season, we should give the writers the benefit of the doubt that they know what they’re doing. Season five ended on the now-traditional ridiculous cliffhanger, which in this case was detonating a hydrogen bomb that may rip a hole in the time-space continuum and reverse everything that has happened so far in the show. Of course, that’s just one of many theories, which are what make LOST so much fun. You can endlessly try to figure out what the hell is happening, and it’s undeniably satisfying being proved either right or wrong. As easy as it is to poke holes in what has happened so far, overall LOST has been a cohesive, entertaining and genuinely clever series.

In short: lay off LOST. It’s a unique programme that, apart from a few minor slip-ups (bet the writers are regretting putting in that second island), has been consistently impressive since its 2004 debut. They have a stupid amount of questions to answer, and I’m looking forward to watching them try. Of course, if the last season turns out to be atrocious, this article is void and I was on the opposite side all along. And as for the smoke monster… yeah, they better explain that thing properly.

Season six of LOST begins on Sky One this Friday, 5th February, at 9pm.