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Lost: The Complete Fourth Season (2008)

ABC Studios
DVD Released: 12/9/2008

All Ratings out of
Show: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/9/2008

(The usual spoilers apply here. Season 4 of Lost can't be discussed without giving away information from all four seasons, so if you haven't seen Season 3, read with caution. -- ML) I'm certainly not the first person to say that I was dissatisfied with Season 2 of Lost, and the makers of the show clearly paid attention to this kind of feedback, as Season 3presented a more focus output, which offered new questions, but also provides answers to the show's mysteries. This emphasis on both story and action would continue in Season 4.

Season 4 picks up right at the conclusion of Season 3. After fighting the elements and "The Others", it looks as if the survivors of Oceanic 815 are going to be rescued. Naomi (Marsha Thomason) parachutes to the island and reports that she's come from a freighter anchored offshore. She has a satellite phone with her. Jack (Matthew Fox) and his friends learn that something on the island is jamming the signal. Once that problem is fixed, Jack calls the boat and asks to be rescued. In (what is revealed to be) a flash-forward, we learn that Kate and Jack get off of the island, but Jack wants to go back.

As Season 4 opens, Jack readies his people to be rescued. However, Locke (Terry O'Quinn) doesn't trust the people on the boat, and he takes a small group back to the Dharma compound. He takes Ben (Michael Emerson) with him, as Jack is glad to be rid of this treacherous man. Soon, a group of people come from the boat, but their behavior is very strange. Are they there to rescue the survivors? It soon becomes clear that they are much more interested in Ben. It also becomes apparent that traveling to and from the island to the boat can have odd effects on people and doesn't always occur as it should. As Jack, Locke, and Ben continue to pursue their agendas on the island, while those on the boat face chaos. All the while, flash-forwards let us know that some people do make it off of the island, but all is not well for them there.

In my recent review for The X-Files: I Want to Believe, I wrote that I had been a fan of that TV show, but ultimately gave up on it. The reason being that the program was all just a big tease -- it set up this elaborate, twisting plot full of conspiracies and it kept promising answers...which it never delivered. In many ways, Lost plays the same sort of game, but the show is truly addictive, and no matter how frustrating it can be, it's impossible to turn away from.

This occurs for several reasons, all of which are related to the writing. While staying rooted in that island locale, the show has continued to change and grow. The introduction of the "rescuers" gives the writers a whole new perspective with which to work, and they truly take advantage of it. The arrival of the boat brings new characters, new situations, and new revelations. The urgency of the situation also increases the pace of what was an already exciting show. (After watching Season 4, stop and think that what you've just viewed takes place over the course of just a few days.)

The show also benefits greatly from its structure. While each episode has a big story, it also focuses on one character. In Seasons 1-3, we learned about this character through flashbacks. In Season 4, we get flash-forwards, which can be tricky, as we're never sure exactly "when" something is happening. The segments also do a nice job of cutting each show into chapters, and this, again, helps with the pacing.

While the show's stories are great, it's the characters which serve as the background of the series. We've been with them for four seasons now, and they become more three-dimensional with every show. We know everyone's secrets (or at least, we think we do) and they continue to reveal flaws. The show also does a great job of using the characters to achieve an emotional effect. In other words, we like who we like, and we love to hate some of the other characters.

But, the big question is, are any secrets finally revealed in Season 4 of Lost. To be honest, I actually think that more questions are raised than are answered. In theory, as with The X-Files, this should drive us away. However, the writers of Lost aren't afraid to keep up the ante on the supernatural elements of the show, and these mysteries are very intriguing. I can say that several characters die in Season 4, so it's clear that the writers mean business. Lost Season 4 is great television, and I can't wait for the premiere of Season 5.

Lost: The Complete Fourth Season crashes onto DVD courtesy of ABC Studios (which is distributed by Disney). This six disc set contains all 14 episodes of the show's fourth season (counting the two-hour finale as two episodes). The episodes are letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a slight amount of grain in some shots and no defects from the source material. The daytime scenes on the beach look great and the image has an undeniable crispness. The colors look good, especially the green jungle, and the image never gets too dark (although some scenes border on it). There is some mild video noise at times, but otherwise the image is solid. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects here are very good, most notably during action scenes. Rain sound effects and the whispering of "The Others" provide some very nice surround sound effects. Gunshots, explosions, and thunder get a boost from the subwoofer.

The Lost: The Complete Fourth Season DVD set contains several extras. Disc 1 offers "Lost in 8:15", an 8 minute and 15 second recap of the entire series up until the beginning of Season 4. We also get an AUDIO COMMENTARY on "The Beginning of the End" from Evangeline Lilly and Jorge Garcia. Disc 2 has AUDIO COMMENTARY on "The Constant" by Editor Mark Goldman, Co-creator/Executive Producer Damon Lindelof, and Executive Producer Carlton Cuse and another COMMENTARY on "Ji Yeon" with Director Stephen Semel and actors Daniel Dae Kum & Yunjin Kim. Disc 4 has AUDIO COMMENTARY on "There's No Place Like Home (Part 2) with Lindelof and Cuse.

The remainder of the Bonus Features are found on Discs 5 and 6. "Lost on Location" (42 minutes) looks at 8 episodes of Season 4. These are like mini-making-ofs, as they examine certain aspects of the shows, such as stunts, locations, and the actor's performances. The next piece "The Island Backlot: Lost in Hawaii" (18 minutes), does what I thought "Lost on Location" was going to do. It examines how the production is able to stay in Hawaii and create so many different locales, such as different cities and environments. "The Right to Bear Arms" (11 minutes) features a discussion from the cast and crew as to where the guns on the island came from, who has them, and how anyone can keep track of them. "Soundtrack of Survival: Composing for Character, Conflict & the Crash" (26 minutes) features an outdoor concert in Honolulu which features the musis from Lost. We then get an interview with composer Michael Giacchino, who discusses the thoughts behind his music and the concert. "Lost Bloopers" is a 3-minute gag reel. The DVD features 9 DELETED SCENES from various episodes, which run about 9 minutes. There are some interesting moments here, but no revelations. "Course of the Future: The Definitive Flash Forwards" (56 minutes) has comments from the cast and creators concerning this new plot device. We then get all of the flash forwards edited together in one reel. "The Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy of Lies" (21 minutes) is a faux documentary which examines Oceanic's explanation of the crash and pokes holes in their story. This is a fun extra. "The Freighter Folk" (13 minutes) offers interviews with the new cast members, who share their experiences with working on the show and being thrown in with a cast which has been together for so long. "Offshore Shoot" (8 minutes) looks at the challenge of shooting on the full-size freighter. "Lost: Missing Pieces" (31 minutes) are 13 "Mobisodes" (that word is new to me) which are basically deleted scenes from various episodes of various seasons. We could have used some explanation here.

ABC Studios has also brought Lost: The Complete Fourth Season to Blu-ray Disc. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 24 Mbps. The picture is quite sharp and clear, showing grain in only a few shots and no defects from the source material. In fact, some shots are so clear that you feel as if you could step into the picture. It's because of this that the grainy shots really stand out. The colors look fantastic -- just look at those green mountains and that blue water! The detail level is very good and the image's depth makes the exterior scenes look great. The Disc offers a Linear PCM 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 4.6 Mbps. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are very good here -- just listening to the various minute sounds coming out of the jungle. These effects are very detailed and show nice speaker separation. The surround sound effects are good, most notably during action scenes and when it's raining. The subwoofer gets a boost from thunder and explosions. The Blu-ray certainly surpasses digital broadcast quality.

The Blu-ray Disc set contains all of the extras found on the DVD. In addition, "Soundtrack of Survival" contains an additional 16 minutes where we get additional songs from the show, a presentation by Terry O'Quinn, and a how the music is mentioned in the script. "Course of the Future" contains a game of sorts where the challenge is to arrange the flash forwards in chronological order.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long