ABC Studios // 2004 // 1068 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // June 26th, 2009
On this island, survival is not a game.
"I've looked into the eye of this island, and what I saw...was beautiful."
Let's go with the short version. A commercial airliner traveling from Australia to the United States crashes...somewhere. Some 48 passengers survive the crash. The passengers include a doctor (Matthew Fox, Speed Racer), a young lottery winner (Jorge Garcia, Deck the Halls), a rugged con man (Josh Holloway, Whisper), a dangerous criminal (Evangeline Lilly, Afterwards), a cripple whose legs have mysteriously been healed (Terry O'Quinn, Masters of Science Fiction), a pregnant woman (Emelie de Ravin, The Hills Have Eyes), a former Iraqi soldier (Naveen Andrews, Planet Terror), a C-list pop star (Dominic Monaghan, The Lord of the Rings) two wealthy siblings (Maggie Grace and Ian Somerhalder), a single father and his son (Harold Perrineau and Malcom David Kelley), a Korean married couple (Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim), and many others. These passengers find themselves stranded on a mysterious island. Sinister monsters, polar bears and perhaps even other people inhabit the jungle. There are new mysteries and dangers around every turn, and the idea of rescue seems increasingly hopeless. Just where are these people? Will they be able to survive the challenges that await them?
The 25 episodes are spread across seven Blu-ray discs:
* Pilot (Part 1)
* Pilot (Part 2)
* "Tabula Rasa"
* "White Rabbit"
* "House of the Rising Sun"
* "The Moth"
* "Confidence Man"
* "Raised by Another"
* "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues"
* "Whatever the Case May Be"
* "Hearts and Minds"
* "...In Translation"
* "Deus Ex Machina"
* "Do No Harm"
* "The Greater Good"
* "Born to Run"
* "Exodus" (Part 1)
* "Exodus" (Part 2)
* "Exodus" (Part 3)
I have a confession to make. I'm pretty new to the world of Lost. When the promotions for the program were airing a few years ago, I wasn't particularly interested. The show looked like an ungainly combination of Gilligan's Island and Survivor. I decided not to tune in. However, as the first season progressed, the buzz surrounding Lost seemed to get increasingly fervent. Alas, every time I would happen to come across an episode on television, I would feel a bit...well, lost. The show was obviously something that needed to be seen from the beginning. It wasn't particularly accessible to those trying to jump on board late in the game. So, I gave up once again. At numerous times over the years I've intended to get around to watching the show (I even borrowed my sister's first-season DVDs and have been letting them collect dust in my house for a few months), but never actually did so. All the while, I kept hearing bits and pieces of intriguing yet vague information about what was going on: flash-backs, flash-forwards, The Others, smoke monsters, and so on. I had no idea what in the world it all meant. The release of the first season on Blu-ray provided me with a perfect opportunity to finally dig into Lost. Kids, I think I'm well on my way to becoming a big fan.
As someone who has not seen the subsequent seasons of the program, I have no idea how well the first season of Lost compares and contrasts to what follows (opinions on this issue seem to be incredibly diverse). What I do know is that this is a fantastic, absorbing, immensely addictive season of television. Lost is one of the smartest, most intriguing shows to hit the airwaves over the course of the last decade; certainly one of the best things on network television.
More than anything, the first season of Lost feels like a massive prologue. It takes an entire season just to get to know the characters and the island they have been stranded on properly, and even at the conclusion there is still so much that we don't know. One of the things I love about the program is the way it constantly subverts our assumptions. We may think we know the characters, but the constant flashbacks filling in bits and pieces of their personal histories frequently suggest otherwise. Slowly but surely, we begin to see subtle common themes weaving through the lives of these characters. Perhaps they are coincidental, perhaps not, but after a while one begins to get the feeling everything is happening for a reason. Lost is a program that cheerfully invites conspiracy theories of all sorts, but it takes equal joy in refusing to provide definitive answers to most of the questions posed by this season. Much like the first season of Twin Peaks, Lost maintains a mysterious allure by holding its cards close to the chest. Perhaps it is somewhat less menacing than David Lynch's creepy masterpiece, but it deserves the comparison nonetheless.
If the first season does not provide much satisfaction in terms of the mysteries it presents, the show does provide very satisfactory arcs for the characters here. We get the opportunity to look into the past of pretty much all the major characters via flashback. Though there are still plenty of tantalizing gaps, by the time the season concludes almost every major cast member has attained three-dimensional complexity. To watch a series of tiny strands of character development quietly connecting to create a rich tapestry is nothing short of fascinating. It's hard to spotlight individual performances when you have a large ensemble cast as consistent as this one, but I will say that I particularly admired the work of Terry O'Quinn, Yunjin Kim and Naveen Andrews.
The Blu-ray releases for the third and fourth seasons of Lost received very high marks for their superb presentation of one of the most visually rich programs on television. While the first season set may not hit the same standard-setting levels, it's still a very strong transfer that deserves praise. Facial detail is particularly superb, an important fact considering just how frequently Lost studies the facial reactions of its characters. Background detail is also excellent, and the bright daytime scenes accentuating the gorgeous Hawaiian scenery are nothing short of vibrant. The only flaws of note come during some of the darker scenes, which seem a bit lacking in contrast at times. The show is far from looking murky, but it probably could have been a tad bit better. Still, the pros far outweigh cons. When you're traveling through the lush green jungles of Lost: The Complete First Season, odds are pretty high that you'll feel fully immersed in the experience.
A definite asset is the audio, which is pretty close to flawless throughout. This is a very dynamic soundtrack that plays an exceptionally large role in the effectiveness of Lost. When that mysterious monster (still an undefined being as of this season's conclusion) stomps ferociously through the jungle and makes that strange roaring sound, your speakers will kick into high gear and deliver a serious punch. From the slightest crackle of a burning fire to each episode-concluding thud, Lost excels. Special mention should be made of Michael Giacchino's score, a great achievement that runs circles around most modern television scoring. Giacchino is a composer who actually understands the art of musical storytelling; a gift that seems increasingly rare in both cinema and television. His music is rich and enveloping throughout. Giacchino carefully tweaks his themes and motifs throughout the show, only providing full-bodied and bold performances during well-selected key moments. It's hard not to get a chill up your spine listening to the gorgeous selection written for the closing moments of "Exodus (Part 1)."
The vast majority of the extras here were included on the original DVD release, so I won't go into too much detail here. You get the following:
* Audio Commentaries on five Episodes: Pilot (Part 1), Pilot (Part 2), "Walkabout," "The Moth," and "Heart and Minds." Participants vary from episode to episode, and include the likes of J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Maggie Grace, Ian Sommerhalder, Terry O'Quinn, Dominic Monaghan, and more.
* Departure: A "compartment" of sorts that contains seven making-of featurettes. Here you'll find "The Genesis of Lost," "Designing a Disaster," "Before They Were Lost," "Audition Tapes," "Welcome to Oahu: The Making of the Pilot," "Lost at Comic-Con," and "The Art of Matthew Fox."
* Lost on Location: A selection of eight brief featurettes spotlighting various aspects of specific episodes. The episodes spotlighted are, "The Trouble with Boars," "House of the Rising Sun," "Confidence Man," "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues," "Whatever the Case May Be," "Hearts and Minds," "Special," and "Exodus."
* Additional Features: A wide variety of assorted goodies. You get a goofy on-set visit from Jimmy Kimmel, some deleted scenes, bloopers, additional flashbacks (nowhere near as revealing or interesting as the packaging promotes them to be), a piece about the cast visiting the Museum of Television & Radio, a piece called "Flashbacks and Mythology," and an amusing "Backstage with Drive Shaft" featurette.
* Blu-ray Exclusives: Not much. The discs are equipped with a feature called "SeasonPlay" that allows you to pick up exactly where you left off if you remove a disc. Personally, I don't find a whole lot of value in this, but I suppose some folks may find it helpful. The disc is also D-box enabled for you rollers and shakers out there. There's also a coupon allowing those who previously purchased Lost on DVD to get a twenty-dollar mail-in rebate. I understand there are loads of little easter eggs, but frankly I got tired of hunting for them after a while due to the slow, difficult-to-navigate nature of the disc menus. The menus are attractive from a design standpoint, but they aren't exactly great in terms of efficiency.
I have very few problems with the first season of Lost, but let me register a couple of minor complaints. First of all, though I dig most of the flashbacks, occasionally they do throw off the pacing. I can imagine how tricky it must have been to maintain a balancing act between the present and the past; and it's a credit to everyone involved that the show does such a fine job of it most of the time. Still, the few episodes that struggle with this tend to stand out in a somewhat negative way. Additionally, I must admit that I wish at least a little bit of obligatory attention had been paid to the non-starring members of the flight. There are over 40 people here, but we barely hear or even see half of them over the course of the entire season. With so many primary characters I can see how it would be challenging to find room for the rest, but an occasional effort should have been made to simply check in on the less important characters.
This is a terrific season of television. The strong transfer and the superb audio easily warrant an upgrade despite the lack of new supplemental material.
Review content copyright © 2009 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ABC Studios
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 1068 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Additional Flashbacks
* Deleted Scenes
* D-Box Enabled
* Rebate Coupon