As it has done since the beginning, tonight’s “Lost” (8 p.m., ABC) will focus on one character’s particular predicament, back-story and mythology. In this case, it’s the ageless Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell), a longtime resident of the mysterious island.
“Lost” has done a rather nice job of shifting seamlessly from the flashbacks explaining the past life and deeds of the islander survivors to the current flashback, flash-forward or flash-sideways to their actions in a parallel dimension of time.
Time and its many mutations has become a strong character on many series of late. “Damages” shows viewers a glimpse of a mystery taking place months in the future and asks us to figure things out as “real” time catches up to the sneak peek. And even in its least satisfying season, “24” does a good job of amplifying the one-darn-thing-after-another notion of passing time with a ticking clock.
One can only presume that Alpert will not appear in the new parallel world of “Lost,” since he was not on the fatal Flight 815 for which time has been “reset.”
Alpert’s name may be a clue or a red herring in itself. Richard Alpert was the original name of 1960s guru Ram Dass, a Harvard faculty colleague of Timothy Leary and fellow experimenter in drugs and Eastern beliefs. Ram Dass’ famously quoted mantra was “Be here now,” a telling reference to a character who has been there for a very, very long time.
• “Independent Lens” (9 p.m., PBS, check local listings) presents “Lost Souls (Animas Perdidas),” a personal film about a family torn apart — the filmmaker’s uncles were deported to Mexico after a drug arrest. Both men were naturalized citizens who were raised in California, were unfamiliar with Mexico, and served in the U.S. military.
• On last week’s episode of “The Good Wife” (9 p.m., CBS), Alicia’s firm took on a health-insurance company using a sophisticated computer program to target clients and deny them coverage when they needed it most. On the very next day, news broke of a real insurance company doing the very same thing to an AIDS patient in South Carolina. “Law & Order” may feature stories “ripped from the headlines,” but in this case, “The Good Wife” appears to have anticipated the news by at least 24 hours.
Tonight’s other highlights
• The top 11 perform on “American Idol” (7 p.m., Fox).
• A retrospective episode of “V” (9 p.m., ABC) invites viewers to catch up.
• Haddie’s dating life worries Adam and Katrina on “Parenthood” (9 p.m., NBC).
• The investigation of a college slaying leads to a rough neighborhood on “Southland” (9 p.m., TNT).
• An imprisoned musician escapes after a concert on “Justified” (9 p.m., FX).