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''Lost,'' ''Veronica Mars''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 8, 2006

I reversed some of my viewing tonight. My wife was out for most of the evening, so I recorded ''Lost'' and waited for her return, since that's one of the shows we like to watch together. Instead, I watched ''Veronica Mars'' in real time. And, because this was one of those nights with lots of overlapping programs, I had a VCR running for the Grammys while the DVRs handled other shows. Besides, this way I can take the videotape into the office tomorrow and watch it while I do a few other things.

As for ''Lost'' and ''VM,'' I don't know which made me dizzier. We find the hands of the Fitzpatricks in yet another pie on ''Veronica,'' and we see Sawyer and Charlie forming a bizarre, dangerous alliance on ''Lost.'' I was probably more involved in ''Veronica'' since it was tossing off clues right and left to the bus mystery, and it is so good at showing how very, very mean people can be to each other -- and not only young people, although their cruelty can seem especially gifted. But both it and ''Lost'' took parallel tracks on at least one issue -- the role of the outcast in society.

''Veronica Mars'' is hip deep in lost souls and social pariahs; so is ''Lost.'' On ''Veronica,'' the outcasts can be the most sympathetic of characters; ''Lost'' is certainly making us ache for Sawyer and has tried, with less success, to make us feel some sympathy for Charlie -- although I think there's more to be done with a Logan/Sawyer comparison chart.

I am increasingly obsessed with ''Lost'' as Wild West; I think I counted three difference western references from Sawyer. But there are other things that just make me go whoa, as when Kate's mom showed up in the diner scene.

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