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Lost: The Complete First Season (2004-2005)

ABC Studios
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/16/2009

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

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/6/2009

This had to have been one of those rare ideas that didn't even look good on paper. A TV show which combines elements of Gilligan's Island, Lost in Space, and Twin Peaks. Despite the fact that those are all famous and successful shows, putting those various ingredients together doesn't sound like a formula for success. And yet, somehow, producer J.J. Abrams, creator of Alias, and his team were able to make this crazy idea work and the ratings success-story, Lost was born.

Lost starts with a fairly simple premise. A jumbo-jet crashes on the beach of a deserted island and the 40-plus survivors must adapt to their new environment. Amongst those who live through the crash are several prominent characters; Jack (Matthew Fox), a skilled surgeon who becomes the unofficial leader of the group; Kate (Evangeline Lilly), a beautiful, but tough woman with a dark past; Sayid (Naveen Andrews), a former Iraqi soldier who is good with electronics; Michael (Harold Perrineau), a head-strong man who has just recently taken custody of his son, Walt (Malcom David Kelley); Claire (Emilie de Ravin), a young woman who is 8-months pregnant; Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), a washed-up rock star who clings to his band's one hit; Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun (Yoon-jin Kin), a Korean couple who don't speak English; Hurley (Jorge Garcia), an obese young man who is very laid back; Locke (Terry O'Quinn), a man who seems to know about hunting and weapons; Sawyer (Josh Holloway), a scoundrel who hordes items he finds in the wreckage; and Boone (Ian Somerhalder) and Shannon (Maggie Grace), spoiled rich-kids siblings. This group will struggle to come to terms with the tragedy that they've gone through and attempt to survive on the island. And while finding food and shelter is hard enough, the island is a mysterious place which appears to be house a fearsome, unseen monster. As the days wear on, emotions run high, alliances are made, and it becomes clear that man may be more dangerous than the island itself.

Once again, the idea of an entire TV series based on a plane-crash is a thin one, especially if one is not going to go the Gilligan's Island route and have the show revolve around silly shenanigans rather than a tragedy. But, writer/producer J.J. Abrams and his co-writers/co-creators Damon Lindelof and Jeffrey Lieber (along with the other writers who contributed to the episodes) have managed to flesh out the main idea quite well by adding two potent ingredients.

First of all, Lost takes its time in letting us get to know the characters. Each episode focuses on the backstory of at least one character, and through the use of flashbacks, we learn more about who they are and how they came to be on this doomed flight. The show does a fantastic job of allowing the flashbacks to supply much-needed information about the characters and it's often amazing how the flashbacks mirror the action on the island in the present. This is the first TV show that I've seen which is not only informed by the kind of storytelling style found in films such as Pulp Fiction, but actually thrives on it. Each show gives us more tidbits about the various characters and even in the season finale, we are still witnessing how some of the individuals got aboard the plane. As a tribute to the great writing on this show, the series features some fantastic plot twists, mostly concerning the characters -- just when we think we've got someone figured out, the show pulls a 180 and shocks us.

The other element which draws the viewer into Lost is the fact that the story goes far beyond the plane crash. This show could have easily become a fictionalized version of Survivor, as we'd watch the characters try to find the basic elements of life each week. But, the scripts take a detour into The Twilight Zone, taking the show to a different level. Before viewing the show, I'd read about "the monster", but I had no idea just how sci-fi the series got at times. Not to give too much away, but essentially the survivors learn that there are several things on the island which logically shouldn't be there. While the "how will they live" story is intriguing, it's also quite pedestrian, the added level of mystery gives Lost a unique edge. In addition to this, the "Lord of the Flies" elements of the story are cranked up as high as they can go, and tensions flair on each episode, as the group disagrees on various topics and distrust courses through the people.

Lost is an exceptionally good television show, but it isn't perfect. The stories become a bit too far-fetched at times, and they often divert away from the more interesting elements of the show. In addition, the show is very bad about introducing an idea and then waiting several episodes to come back to this premise. (This is annoying when watching the series on Disc. I understand it was infuriating when watching the broadcasts and waiting for new episodes.) The show becomes overly dramatic at times. I understand that without drama there wouldn't be drama, but can't we get just one episode where no one gets hurt and Jack can actually take a break. And most viewers will find themselves questioning the actions of the characters, with my question being, "How do you know that you're not on the isolated side of a populated island? Send out a scout!"

These nitpicky flaws aside, Lost is a show which grabs the viewer from the outset and rarely lets go. The show is exciting, dramatic, and at times, very suspenseful. The writing is top-notch and the main cast do a great job, most notably Fox and O'Quinn. In this age of "reality TV", it's refreshing to find a show which has this much heart and is clearly the work of many devoted people.

Lost: The Complete First Season crash lands on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of ABC Studios. The episodes are letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Discs offer an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a mild amount of grain at times and no defects from the source material. The daytime shots on the beach are incredibly crisp and lifelike. The image is never to dark or bright and the colors, most notably the green jungles and fields, look great. The depth on the image -- once again, in those daytime beach scenes -- is excellent, as is the level of detail. This certainly beats digital broadcast quality. The Discs contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. One doesn't always expect great audio from a TV show, but Lost delivers. The stereo effects, most notably those in the jungle, are very detailed and help to draw the viewer in. The surround sound effects are nicely done as well, especially those involving the plane crash. The show also finds clever ways to insert some low bass rumbles.

This 7-disc set contains many special features. There are five audio commentaries -- "Pilot, Part 1" -- commentary by executive producers J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, and Bryan Burk; "Pilot, Part 2" -- commentary by executive producers J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, and Bryan Burk; "Walkabout" -- commentary by executive producer Jack Bender, co-executive producer David Fury, & star Terry O'Quinn; "The Moth" -- commentary by executive producer Damon Lindelof, executive producer Bryan Burk, and star Dominic Monaghan ; "Hearts and Minds" -- commentary by executive producer Carlton Cruse, supervising producer Javier Grillo-Marxauch, and stars Maggie Grace & Ian Sommerhalder. All of these commentaries are very interesting, as the speakers juggle talking about the production and commenting on what it was like to shoot on location. The commentaries on the "Pilot" episode are particularly interesting, as the series creators talk about how quickly the show came together and how the characters were developed.

The rest of the extras appear on Disc 7, and are divided into three main sections. The first is called "Departure". In "The Genesis of Lost" (9 minutes), ABC executives and the series creators talk about how the idea for the show came about, how J.J. Abrams got involved, and how Damon Lindelof's contributions really helped the outline for the show to gel. "Designing a Disaster" (8 minutes) gives an overview of the purchase of the plane for the show, and how it was cut-up and then re-assembled to look like a crashed jet in Hawaii. We get a look at the casting of the show, complete with audition footage in "Before They Were Lost" (23 minutes). Here we learn how the actors helped to mold their characters. (There is also additional audition footage for 13 members of the main cast.) "Welcome to Oahu: The Making of the Pilot" (33 minutes) is an extensive behind-the-scene look at the how the pilot was made, including the challenges of shooting on location, battling the weather, and getting the polar bear just right. It also look at the show's visual effects and the music. Star Matthew Fox took many panoramic photographs while on location and these are presented slide-show style with commentary from Fox in "The Art of Matthew Fox" (6 minutes). The 2-minute "Lost@Comicon" shows the reception which the cast and creators got when they showed the pilot to a large group at the famous comic book convention in San Diego.

The next section is "Tales from the Island". "Lost: On Location" contains two main sections. First, we get "The Trouble with the Boars" (5 minutes) which shows the difficulties of shooting with live animals. Second, there are brief looks at the specifics of how 7 episodes were made. I'm not a big fan of Jimmy Kimmel, but his "On Set with Jimmy Kimmel" (7 minutes), taken from his late night show, is very funny and contains some great moments with Kimmel and the cast. We get an in-depth look at Charlie's fictitious band in "Backstage with Driveshaft" (7 minutes), where we learn the origin of the song "You All Everybody."

The final section is "Lost Revealed". This contains two deleted "Flashbacks" from the season finale, thirteen "Deleted Scenes" (15 minutes) which don't really offer anything new, and a four-minute "Bloopers From the Set" reel. The final extra is the 10-minute "Live from the Museum of Television and Radio", in which a panel, made up of most of the main cast plus J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk, talk about the show. This gives us a nice chance to see what the actors are really like. Those involved with the show describe the importance of opening up the show and expanding the story "Flashbacks & Mythology" (7 minutes).

Along with Season 1, ABC Studios is also releasing Lost: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray Disc.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long