Character mysteries pile up on ‘Lost’

Sometimes, you have to get what you ask for to realize that you don’t want it. “Lost” (9 p.m., ABC) appears to have entered its “answers” phase, and it’s not a pleasant experience.

Last week, we watched Ben’s reaction as his daughter was assassinated before his eyes. We thought for rather painful seconds that Sawyer and Claire were goners. And since they don’t seem to figure in the miserable post-island futures for the Oceanic survivors, we have to assume that their end is just around the corner. Do we really want to see that? I’m not certain that a “Lost” without Sawyer is anything I’d like to watch.

Of course, the questions piled up as well. Ben checks into a Tunisian hotel under an “On the Road” pseudonym, and not, we are told, for the first time. And just how does he control the smoke monster? Is there some kind of valve in the basement? Can we buy it at Home Depot? Tonight’s “Lost” returns to love-triangle territory as Jack’s failing health inspires collaboration between Juliet and Kate.

¢ Smart shows are all about character development. And while “Lost” piles on the back stories and mysteries behind personalities major and minor, the documentary style of “The Office” (8 p.m., NBC) allows viewers to slowly get better acquainted with its characters and their flaws.

Last week’s major revelation involved Ryan’s dangerous dependence on some kind of party drug. It’s hardly surprising that Ryan, the former temp turned corporate wunderkind, would have a dark side. But the episode was more interesting when it implied that Jim – the series’ dreamboat and most endearing character – becomes decidedly uncomfortable when dealing with a black security guard or Spanish-speaking cleaning staff. He may be cool, but he’s not perfect, and that makes him all the more believable.

Speaking of uncool, Tobey’s awkward grab at Pam’s knee – followed by his awkwardly announced relocation to Costa Rica – ranks up there amongst the show’s most excruciatingly painful moments.

Matters of race, appearance and attitude are revisited tonight when the delusional Michael and the gruff Stanley have a blow-up during a staff meeting.

¢ Jason Alexander (“Seinfeld”) appears as a judge on “Step it Up & Dance” (9 p.m., Bravo). Believe it or not, we’re roughly two weeks away from the 10th anniversary of the last episode of “Seinfeld,” which aired May 14, 1998.

¢ Frank Sinatra died that very same day. Turner Classic Movies marks the decade since the chairman of the board’s passing with a month-long salute, showcasing Sinatra movies every Sunday and Wednesday night throughout May.

Tonight’s other highlights

¢ Up and around, Earl searches for his soulmate on “My Name Is Earl” (7 p.m., NBC).

¢ “Project Runway” stars Nina Garcia and Christian Siriano guest star on “Ugly Betty” (7 p.m., ABC).

¢ Jack loses altitude on “30 Rock” (7:30 p.m., NBC).

¢ Three murder victims share a peculiar blood type on “CSI” (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ Back to perform a special surgery, Addison is struck by the changes in the old gang on “Grey’s Anatomy” (9 p.m., ABC).

¢ A lottery winner vanishes during a camping trip on “Without a Trace” (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ Pratt tries to reconcile with Bettina, and Neela discovers her patient’s dark side on “ER” (9 p.m., NBC).