Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

ABC-TV's Hit Series, "Lost," Features Sayid, a Sensitive, Appealing Iraqi

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

ABC-TV's Hit Series, "Lost," Features Sayid, a Sensitive, Appealing Iraqi

Article excerpt

Everyone loves a mystery and ABC's new hit drama "Lost"-which ends with a cliff-hanger each week-has everyone guessing. Perhaps the biggest mystery is why Hollywood writers, who traditionally cast Arabs as villains, have created a sensitive Arab, Sayid, as one of its lead characters.

Even more surprising, Sayid isn't a suave Saudi or a romantic Lebanese. He is an Iraqi-and a likable Iraqi, at that.

"Lost" is a unique series that combines reality TV's "Survivor" challenges with the dilemmas every fictional castaway has faced since Daniel Defoe's classic, Robinson Crusoe.

The storyline is about 47 survivors of a downed passenger plane en route to the U.S. from Australia. When it hit extreme turbulence, radio communications were lost and the jetliner crashed 1,000 miles off course. Hence, search missions fail to locate the passengers' and crew's whereabouts.

Viewers are so intrigued with the survivors' dilemma that "Lost" is rated Wednesday night's most watched drama. Each week's episode provides more revelations on the pasts of the survivors-and they are as disparate a group as might be found on any international jetliner manifest. It is the character development of each survivor that makes "Lost" so intriguing to viewers.

In flashbacks, we learn about each survivor-and with 47, they constitute the largest cast of any TV drama in many years. The lead actor is Dr. Jack (Matthew Fox), who recently had a showdown with his alcoholic surgeon father. His romantic interest is Kate (Evangeline Lilly), who was caught by bounty hunters in Australia and was being returned to the U.S. by a federal officer who died in the crash.

There is a young Korean couple, Jim and Sun Kim, who pretend not to speak English; an African-American father, Michael (Harold Perinneau), who had picked up his 10-year-old son Walt (Malcolm David Kelley) in Australia following the death of the boy's mother; Charlie (Dominic Monaghan of "Lord of the Rings"), a fading rock star with a drug habit; and Sawyer (John Holloway), a loner with a big attitude who doesn't trust anyone, especially Sayid. In an opening episode, Sawyer refers to Sayid as "Al Jazeera" and starts a fight with him.

In the first episode, as survivors adjust to finding themselves on a remote Pacific island, Sayid (Naveen Andrews of "The English Patient") offers to try to repair the airliner's radio.

Hurley (Jorge Garcia), an overweight passenger, tries to start a conversation with Sayid, asking how he gained knowledge in radio communications.

Sayid replies, "I was in military communications during the Gulf war."

Noting that he had a friend in the Gulf war, Hurley asks what branch of the military Sayid was in"the Army, Marines. …

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