Even for the most deep-dish Lost fanatics, bona fide academic courses about the show probably seem like one obsessive step too far. Yet that is exactly what Lost University is offering. You can ”enroll” right now at lostuniversity.org, and starting Dec. 8, a special feature on the Blu-ray edition of Lost‘s fifth season grants you access to an entire Web-based Lost-related curriculum. Genuine professors deliver lectures on scholarly subjects (philosophy, psychology, history). You’re assigned homework, and there are even graded final exams.
The crazy part? It’s incredibly fun. Every detail has been diligently thought through, from the mascot (a polar bear, of course) to the Hanso Foundation logo tucked into the corner of the bubble sheets you ”fill out” for your exams. The courses are the real deal, too: Physics of Time Travel melted my brain in more ways than I knew were possible, but the classes had such a light touch that I actually, like, retained stuff. And it isn’t just knowledge for knowledge’s sake, either; teaching a fan how to read hieroglyphics is essentially daring him or her to pore over past seasons to decipher hidden clues.
The supporting website does offer access to student forums and occasional tutoring sessions about the show. But Lost U.’s biggest prerequisite — a Blu-ray player connected to the Internet — is also its biggest handicap. Why not at least put the one class filled with Lost cast members — Jungle Survivor Basics — on the Web for all to enjoy? Evangeline Lilly’s insight that ants taste like lemon and are an excellent source of protein is especially choice, and shouldn’t be cloistered in some virtual ivory tower. B+