What I love most about Lost is that — cue up the record player — it makes its own kind of music. (And whoever that cat Desmond is who's living in quarantine in the hatch, we at least are kindred spirits when it comes to Mama Cass.)

The playfully surreal opening sequence of Lost's season premiere blew my mind, and the rest of the suspenseful, emotionally compelling episode put my mind at ease. Not that I was listening to the naysayers over the summer who, peeved at all the cliff-hangers from May's finale, were drooling that this fabulous fable was all tease and no payoff.

So much for that theory. I haven't a clue why this mystery man is living under the island, surrounded by retro gizmos, computers and guns as he works out, guzzles health shakes, and injects himself with some drug that seems to share Hurley's lottery numbers (other fans have to tell me such things, because I simply can't retain that much detail). But we certainly got to see the chamber up close enough to realize that it's some sort of subterranean geodesic dome. Why? Who? How? What the ----?

And how ballsy for the show not even once to take us to the ill-fated guys from the raft. There's always next week for that, and they know we know it.

Instead we got another glimpse into Jack's former life as a doctor who didn't believe in miracles until his chance encounter with Desmond on the stadium steps, followed by the unexpected recovery of his future bride (Julie Bowen) from near-certain paralysis. (People also tell me the man killed in her car accident may have been Shannon's father; the last name is the same. Details, details.)

I was on the edge of my seat as Kate was lowered down the hatch, disappearing in a blaze of light (which just as quickly went out), and was glued as Jack followed her and Locke's trail to the final standoff with the Man Below. I was also thoroughly creeped out by Shannon's jungle vision of a dripping-wet Walt, who was abducted by the Others in the season finale.

All of which served to reinforce my joy over Lost scoring its well-deserved best-drama win at the Emmys. (At least they got something right.)

Whereas the tepid premiere of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart on NBC Wednesday night merely reconfirmed the suspicion that two Apprentices a week are too much of a not-as-good-as-it-thinks-it-is thing.

The hostess speaks of Martha Stewart Omnimedia as if the corporation were her married name, and though she's really trying to warm up on this reality spectacle and loosen up on her daytime talk show, it's clearly going to be a long process. And this is going to be a long season, with alternately obnoxious and pallid contestants acting most unseemly until Martha delivers the final blow: "You just don't fit in."

How ironic that the Business School 101 lesson of the first episode, built around modernizing a classic fairy tale, was to "connect with your audience." Judging from the opening-night ratings, Apprentice: Martha failed miserably on that count. I know I would rather have been watching America's Next Top Model. Next week I won't be making the same mistake.