We abandoned five of our judges on a deserted island, and rather than catching wild boar, they wrote this review.
Our reviews of Lost: The Complete First Season (Blu-Ray) (published June 26th, 2009), Lost: The Complete Second Season (Blu-Ray) (published June 26th, 2009), Lost: The Complete Third Season (published December 19th, 2007), Lost: The Complete Fourth Season (published December 3rd, 2008), Lost: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-Ray) (published December 9th, 2008), Lost: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-Ray) (published December 7th, 2009), and Lost: The Complete Sixth And Final Season (Blu-Ray) (published August 26th, 2010) are also available.
(after asking for a kiss from Kate…)
If you are looking for answers, there are none to be found. When it comes to the television show Lost, seems we're all in the dark, just as the forty-eight men and women from Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 who crash onto a mysterious island somewhere in the Pacific are. But isn't that half the fun? Lost was one of the most daring and well-made pieces of television of 2004 (or any year for that matter). Lost: The Complete First Season is one hell of a DVD set. Filled with extra footage, interviews with the cast and crew, and plenty of extra features, this Buena Vista set is a perfect example of how to do television on DVD right. Like the show it features, it raises the bar several times to distance itself from anything that has come before it.
Facts of the Case
Forty-eight survivors find themselves on an island after a horrific plane crash. They have only their wits, and whatever they can scavenge from the wreckage, with which to survive in the jungle. Funny thing is, the survivors all seem to have been "lost" a lot longer than just the amount of time they've spent on this deserted island. The characters have always been on emotional islands of their own creation. Lost uses a unique structure: it shows flashbacks relating to core cast members throughout the series, usually incidents that tie in to what is currently happening on the island.
The central cast includes:
• Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin, Roswell)
• Dr. Jack Sheppard (Matthew Fox, Party of Five)
• Hugo "Hurley" Reyes (Jorge Garcia, Curb Your
• Shannon Rutherford (Maggie Grace, The Fog (2005))
• Boone Carlisle (Ian Somerholder, Rules of Attraction)
• James "Sawyer" Ford (Josh Holloway,
• Michael Dawson (Harold Perrineau, The Matrix Reloaded)
• Jin Kwon (Daniel Dae Kim, Angel, 24) and Sun Kwon
(Yunjin Kim, one of Korea's top movie stars)
• Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly, Kingdom Hospital)
• Charlie Pace (Dominic Monagahan, The Lord of the
• John Locke (Terry O'Quinn, Alias, The West
Lost: The Complete First Season covers the first forty days on the island (each episode—except the pilot—covers only forty-eight hours), and introduces several mysteries the survivors come across. They quickly discover they are not alone. Not only are there other people on the island, but more than one mysterious monster appears in the course of the first twenty-four episodes. Some of the survivors don't have much longer to live, and most of them are going to have to face secrets they thought were long buried. No matter where you're lost, your past has a way of catching up with you.
Lost wasn't always considered a hot property or a sure thing. It had been kicking around the networks long before J.J. Abrams (the creator of Alias) assembled a team and began shooting. The concept of a group of survivors trapped on an island wasn't entirely original, when you consider everything from Gilligan's Island to reality phenomenon Survivor. Interest in the production was only lukewarm; nobody saw it making much of a dent in the ratings, considering its somber situation. Casting the show was a mess, since Lost was one of the last shows to go into production for the 2004 television season. The writers had to retool the cast and characters to fit the actors who were available. Early drafts had completely different directions and definitions for the ensemble. Michael Keaton (Batman) was even in talks with Abrams to appear as Jack Sheppard, with the caveat that the doctor would be eaten about an hour into the pilot. Kate's character was conceived as a much older businesswoman who would become the leader. The show began shooting without a complete script or a locked-down cast list. Even after Abrams began shooting the pilot, nobody was sure anything would become of the show. The pilot became the most expensive first episode in television history, and the Disney corporation fired ABC Entertainment Chairman Lloyd Braun for greenlighting it. Little did they know that despite all the drama in production, Lost would be one of their biggest hits in years.
You'll find a maddeningly taut mystery adventure at the core of Lost: The Complete First Season. From the very first episode, Lost hooked a large audience with both its stunning visuals (thanks to scenic Hawaiian locations and an army of CGI and special effects teams) and surprising twists that were never fully explained. The flashback format worked because the creators and writers handled the sequences as vital parts of the show, and not just as a gimmick. The show was whip-smart and well-paced. The threats were all the more real because, like in Jaws, the audience never got to see much of the monsters and the other threats to the survivors. Boars, bears, and a mysterious as-yet-unseen monster all flash by with hardly any clear views. The rumored "others" on the island are never seen, but are heard whispering in the trees. It's frightening because you are never sure what's going on.
As cool as the island mysteries are, it's the people involved in the story that are remarkable. As a character study, the show is a rich and surprisingly deep multilayered piece of work. The show shifts its focus in each episode, showcasing all the characters and giving every cast member the opportunity to deliver a strong performance. Singling out one or two seems futile, since Lost is an ensemble show with more than a dozen leads. My favorite character throughout Lost: The Complete First Season is John Locke (O'Quinn), simply because he seemed to become linked to the island. His performance is simultaneously feral and real. Ian Somerhalder (Boone) also caught my attention with his intensely real portrayal of a man being changed by extreme circumstances. The beauty of Lost: The Complete First Season is how each viewer will find and identify with different characters. This is the kind of show for which the Emmy for "Best Ensemble" seems to have been created.
Transfers on the set are amazing. The anamorphic widescreen visuals are crystal clear with black levels you swear you could blow smoke into. There are hardly any authoring problems—it's obvious the team that produced this DVD set knew what they were doing each step of the way. This is the best looking television transfer I've seen, and will give high definition broadcasts a run for their money. The surround sound audio track isn't nearly as busy as it should be, but it kicks in when things get tense. The rear channels and the subwoofer don't get too much of a workout, but the track is clear and solid.
Lost: The Complete First Season has a jaw-dropping array of extras which make a purchase of the set a wise investment even for people who downloaded or recorded every episode during the broadcast run. Rewatchability of the series is high, thanks to myriad clues and cameos scattered throughout, as well as some well-produced commentaries (five tracks, depending on how you count the two-part pilot) and "making of" featurettes that take you deep inside the show. The season's twenty-four episodes span six discs; a seventh holds too many extras to easily catalog. The extra disc is broken up into three categories: "Departure" looks at the show's creation and how they filmed the pilot; "Tales From the Island" takes you behind the scenes of individual episodes; and "Lost Revealed" includes flashbacks and scenes cut from the broadcast versions. Also included are segments from Jimmy Kimmel Live, photos taken by actor Matthew Fox, a "behind-the-scenes" bit with the fictional band Driveshaft, audition tapes for every cast member, and a hilarious portion of a group interview conducted by The Museum of Television and Radio. There are also a batch of funny bloopers, where the actors flub lines and crack each other up. There's even more than what I've listed here, and it may take you almost a whole season just to wade through it all. Most of the material was produced well before the finale, so spoilers are low, the main exception being noted segments dealing with the last shows. I've never seen a television set that examines a show so well. Lost: The Complete First Season blows away all previous attempts to chronicle a series.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The packaging is attractive, and I love the plastic slipcover over the standard fold-out with gates, but I do have some minor quibbles. The discs are single sided (thank you!), but are stacked two at a time in their housings. Buena Vista did have problems with missing booklets in some sets, but a quick call to their customer service line will results in a booklet being sent to you. The same problem seems to have plagued their release of Desperate Housewives, but at least there are no technical problems with the discs to consider.
Lost does stumble now and then. Sometimes mysteries are raised and then forgotten quickly, at a rushed pace, as if the writers can't decide which is the most interesting. Some mysteries seem tacked on as afterthoughts just to keep the show interesting. A French woman who has apparently been on the island for over sixteen years comes in and out of the story only when a plot point is needed. A subplot about Kate (Lilly) looking for a toy airplane in flashback seems far too extreme to be plausible, even considering her past. Continuity issues are brought to light when viewing the series on DVD. Compare the plane and its crash in the pilot and the finale, and you'll see marked differences.
The real question is: can the show sustain everything set up in its first season? Quality has to be sustained, and there are some recent developments that don't bode well for the life of the series. Some of the excellent writers and directors, such as David Fury (Angel), have already moved on to other projects for the coming season. Abrams has a track record of creating brilliant setups with less-than-stellar resolves in his other series. I wonder if, after the second season, we will all be as enthusiastic about the series. It has set hopes impossibly high for the resolutions of the mysteries of the island. This type of show can only sustain itself for so long, and the high ratings right now will only spiral down over time. Lost can not be viewed in the middle. You have to be there for the first episode, which makes the DVD set crucial to anyone coming in late who needs to catch up. This may be a case where DVD will be vital to the series' survival. (Even repeats in the summer skipped major episodes for people new to the show.)
Lost easily is one of the best television shows created; likewise, Lost: The Complete First Season represents the best set produced for a series. The show begs to be watched several times, with each viewing revealing more clues and connections between the survivors. The writing team does a brilliant job, even mocking audience theories on what is happening on the island. During the broadcast of the first season, people speculated maybe the characters were in limbo, or paying for their bad karma somehow. At one point a character asks the question "Are we all dead?," and in another episode, one questions "Is this happening because of the secrets we kept?" Any theory about what is really going on will have to wait to be answered, because Lost isn't giving up its answers readily. Unlike ABC's other hit show, Desperate Housewives, the mystery remains strong as the season ends. It's a delicious place for a series to be suspended; hopefully the answers will justify all the hours I spent pouring over Lost: The Complete First Season. Even if the resolve is in any way anticlimactic, this first season is one ride you won't soon forget. Television has just found a landmark new series which has raised the bars for production, writing, and acting. It's true and trite—being lost in Lost is one of the best places to be. Discover it before the mysteries are gone.
Lost: The Complete First Season is guilty of making you want to pull out your hair by posing more questions than it ever attempts to answer, but it's an incredible show and one of the best television DVD sets. Taken as one long movie, it's an ultimate DVD collection that will provide you with endless hours of mystery and adventure.
Appellate Judge James A. Stewart: Everything's Happy Underground
While watching In the Dust of the Stars for a recent review, I was struck by a scene in which a cosmonaut found a door leading to an underground chamber and deliberated about what he'd find.
"Locke and the hatch!" I said to myself as I watched him descend.
Will the Lost crew find captive miners forced to dig for a strange mineral, as the cosmonauts did? Will they find TV dinners and Twinkies, as Hurley daydreams while they approach? Or will they find Hope, as Locke says, like in Pandora's box? Is there anything they can find that hasn't been done a million times before?
Probably not, but it matters less than the ending in a Bob Hope movie. By the time the 1970s cosmonauts got to the big underground secret, this twist was starting to smell like a lost hatch full of old gym socks. If that were the big draw on Lost, it would have been one more busted sci-fi flop, with 13 weeks in the can and maybe five or six actually airing.
When I first tuned into Lost, I was expecting a big joke. I'd been surprised that anyone tuned in for episode one, so I caught number two. (ABC's ads touting the show were horrid, and they still don't seem like they would attract any new viewers.) The clichés—the radio transmitter of doom, the mysterious polar bear, and strange noises in the jungle—were all there. What, no cute robot? But after an hour or so, something made me decide to tune in next week: I liked these people.
The flashbacks—showing the lives of the stranded passengers before they got Lost—fuel the show, creating an anthology of offbeat stories not unlike Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales:
John Locke (Terry O'Quinn, Alias) becomes much more likable and interesting when you realize that the mystical Great Hunter was a paralyzed man and uses tricks from games he demonstrated in a toy store to hunt game and attack the mysterious hatch, and when you meet the father he tries to emulate, even though the man cheated him out of a kidney.
Hurley (Jorge Garcia, Becker) and his fatalistic and easygoing nature as he deals with being stranded on an island are explained by the disasters he survived as a lottery winner who kept gaining financially as his grandfather died, the house he built for his mother was destroyed by fire, and his businesses were ruined by freak occurrences.
Jack (Matthew Fox, Party of Five) seems like the perfect hero, but flashbacks show him as a perfectionist who can't accept a mistake in himself or anyone else. Scenes from his wedding day paint him as a comical Lance White (Tom Selleck, as the annoyingly "perfect" private eye in guest turns on The Rockford Files), even to the point of marrying a woman whose life he saved.
Male viewers get a cautionary tale as they eyeball beautiful Kate (Evangeline Lilly), admiring her determination in a crisis as well as her looks, then see her past as a bank robber, killer, and fugitive unfold.
The flashbacks help us understand the developing relationships on the island: the relationship between Michael (Harold Perrineau Jr., Oz) and his son Walt (Malcolm David Kelley, Antwone Fisher), at first uneasy but growing into a strong bond, unfolds along with Michael's fear of failure as a parent and Walt's initial reluctance to leave his mother and adopted father. The strain between Sun (Yunjin Kim, Shiri) and husband Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) as she reveals her ability to speak English are contrasted with the romance of their courtship, and foreshadowed by the growing tension over Jin's thug work for her father. Sawyer's (Josh Holloway) shift from cold scavenger to island community member begins to reverse the changes that came with his growing obsession with killing the con man who wrecked his parents' lives.
When Boone (Ian Somerhalder, Young Americans) dies after a fall, the flashbacks highlight the irony: The pampered boy has just become a man by probing the hatch's mysteries with Locke. Just as he's found his life, he loses it.
Even small moments, such as Hurley's determined race to get on the plane that crashed and stranded him on the island, help us relate to the characters. Wouldn't you rush to get home for your mother's birthday?
These glimpses into the castaways' pasts, and the strong acting behind them, make Lost worth finding. As the upcoming TV schedule demonstrates, one can come up with any number of large-cast danger scenarios (Surface, Threshhold, Invasion), but will any of them have the fascinating cast and characters to pull one off?
As of this writing, the secret of the hatch is still a mystery. I'll be watching for the answer, but as with the pilgrims on their way to Canterbury, the stories the Lost castaways share during their journey make this flight of TV fantasy one worth taking.
Appellate Judge Mac McEntire: "Name: Shannon Rutherford. Age: 20. Address: Craphole Island."
For most viewers, the appeal of Lost goes beyond unseen monsters and mysterious hatches. Instead, the characters and their histories are what bring people back each week. Some enjoy the ongoing sexual tension between Jack and Kate. Others might be fascinated with Locke's strange spiritual journey. And I'm told that female viewers—plus a certain percentage of the guys—tune in hoping for yet another glimpse of Sawyer without his shirt on.
But for me, the character I'm most interested in is one who hasn't had as much time in the spotlight, but is nonetheless an integral part of the series. I'm talking about Shannon, played by Maggie Grace.
Is this because I think Grace is gorgeous and that she should totally call me? I won't deny it. But even so, the character of Shannon, and the way she's been handled by the writers and producers, is for me a mirror of what does and doesn't work in the series.
The first time we see Shannon, it's in the first episode, in the immediate aftermath of the crash. Amid all the chaos, she's standing there, screaming. But later in the episode, she's relaxed, sunbathing on the beach. While everyone else scavenges for supplies and builds shelter, Shannon acts like she's on vacation, certain that a rescue boat is on its way. What does this say about her character? Either she's in denial, or she's a resilient adapter. I prefer the latter theory, because, as we'll see, there's more to her than we initially know.
As the first season progresses, Shannon spends most of her time verbally sparring with her brother Boone. This element reaches its height in the episode "Hearts and Minds," our only significant look at their pre-island history. Later in the season, she develops a romance with another castaway, and then experiences the death of someone close to her. Along the way, she suffers a near-deadly asthma attack, translates some French when the need arises, and even gets in a little gunplay.
What's good about Shannon's story is what's good about all the character work in Lost. Each character has an intriguing, often surprising back story. The flashback in "Hearts and Minds" reveals that Shannon is more than the sarcastic beach bunny we've seen up until this point. Just before the flashback, Boone states that she's "smart" and "special." We then see Shannon before the crash, with an up-close look at her deceptive and manipulative side. Like the others on the mysterious island, there's more to who she is than meets the eye. As of this writing, Lost's second season has just started, and I look forward to what other unknown elements of Shannon's personality will be revealed.
Just as each character has a backstory, each one also has something to contribute to life on the island. For some, it's knowledge of medicine, engineering, or wilderness survival. For others, contributions might be more abstract, such as the ability to play the guitar or create a homemade golf course. How does Shannon fit into this mix? At one point, Boone calls her "useless," and yet almost immediately afterwards she proves her worth by helping former soldier Sayid to translate some French. This is one skill that she alone has, and one that comes in handy at just the right time. This hints that each character has some role to play on the island, as if he or she is meant to be there.
But as we get into speculation about the island's various mysteries, the series' flaws start to show. In one episode, Shannon suffers a debilitating asthma attack, kicking off a conflict between some of the other characters. Grace is fantastic during one scene in which the island's doctor, Jack, helps her control her breathing, but this doesn't change how the show's creators have turned her into a walking McGuffin. For one episode only, Shannon becomes more of a plot device than a character. When it's over, her asthma is never mentioned again. This gives the series a "making it up as we go along" feel. It would appear, at this early stage, that the creators have spent generous amounts of time working on the history of the characters without really planning their future. Shannon's romance with a castaway, and her threats to murder another, come across as the creators merely trying to find something for the character to do.
Going back to "Hearts and Minds," the series' second biggest flaw is revealed. In an extended action scene, Boone escapes from a trap set by a fellow islander and sets off to rescue Shannon, who's under attack by the show's perpetually unseen giant monster. The sequence is genuinely thrilling, and the creators deserve a round of applause for making two people running through the jungle so exciting. I won't spoil it here, but the resolution of the scene is a disappointment. Both the scene and the entire episode are rife with dramatic potential, but instead, all we get is a tease. The excellent character development in the series is threatened by the unresolved mysteries, such as the monster, the sealed hatch, the "cursed" numbers, the polar bears, and so on. The creators are just teasing viewers to keep them enticed enough to come back week after week.
And that's the story of Shannon and Lost. The writers and producers have come up with a great character, with both an interesting history and skills to help the others around her. This, then, reflects the positives and negatives of the entire series. It has amazing character work, but a frustrating master plan. Unfortunately, unless the show's creators are far sneakier than any of us realize, there's no direction for Shannon's future. This has me concerned for all of Lost.
Season One is entertaining, but incomplete. So this review ends on a cliffhanger, just like many Lost episodes. Whether or not the series' ongoing plot can match up with its character work remains to be seen. But as long as the wonderful Maggie Grace continues to be a part of it, I'll keep watching.
Judge Adam Arseneau: How Lost Ushered in the Era of Television That Doesn't Suck
It's a funny thing, Lost. Here's this show that came out of absolute nowhere, keeping its true intentions closely behind wraps, debuting under the guise of a plane crash Survivor-esque series. Viewers who tuned in were stunned to discover that they had no idea what was going on—it was a setup of sorts. It was a serial supernatural mystery the likes of which hadn't been seen since Twin Peaks, and made no apologies for its weirdness. Like wildfire, more by word of mouth than any other distribution method, Lost became an overnight success, because people couldn't stop talking about it.
And it brought with it the copycats.
For the first time in many years, television is good again. Not cable channels like HBO—they've always been good—but good old-fashioned network broadcast television, the kind you can pick up with rabbit ears. After season after season of mediocre replacement sitcoms cancelled after two episodes and a never-ending deluge of reality television and music audition shows, it seems audiences were ravenously waiting for a show that eschewed all reality and actually kept viewers in the dark. Lost was the first show to pick up on this trend, and its impact has been felt by other networks, now scrambling to catch up.
It bears repeating that Lost is the new X-Files, filling the mystery genre abandoned for many years. If ever you want to gauge the impact of a television show in the cultural mindset, wait to see how long before the show gets imitated. After only one season, here come the supernatural copycats: Threshold and The Ghost Whisperer on CBS, Surface on NBC, and Supernatural on WB. I mean, ABC just revived Kolchak: The Night Stalker. 'Nuff said.
Lost is the first show in many, many years that refuses to insult the intelligence of its audience, and has no problem keeping secrets from them. This is a show that deceives and misleads its viewers on a daily basis, and people love every second of it. Perhaps our brains have grown starved for challenging television as of late, enduring season after season of moronic situational comedies and reality television to the tune of "World's Scariest ____." Our brains are desperate now for the challenge, if only to stretch out and shake off the cobwebs from unending episodes of American Idol.
Perhaps television networks had feared that leaving audiences hanging too long would turn them off a show, that their natural desire to know the answers before turning off the television manifesting into anger and resentment of a show that constantly held its secrets back. A cliffhanger episode now and again was all that was deemed required, it seemed; just a taste of a mystery to keep audiences intrigued, but they always made sure they wrapped things up nice and tidy for fear of offending audiences. The wimps.
Here comes Lost, a show with enough chutzpah to not only keep all its secrets from us, but to actually end the season with more mysteries than they started with. Forget being a step ahead of our protagonists: we are right there with Jack and the rest of the island refugees, trying to make heads or tails of the events around us, ignoring the polar bears in a desperate bid to piece the puzzle together. But for every jigsaw piece slapped in, 12 more are added to the table. And audiences love it.
Even if every new supernatural show tanks in the ratings, thank goodness a show like Lost came around, a show that isn't boring, or patronizing, or insulting to the intelligence. It can't last forever, but hopefully, it will last longer than Twin Peaks. Television doesn't suck anymore. Hallelujah.
Appellate Judge Michael Stailey: "Guys, where are we?"
Leave it to JJ Abrams (Alias) to get people talking. Like a diligent, dedicated horticulturalist, Abrams is a master at planting the seeds of plot twists and nurturing them until the moment they explode into dazzling full bloom. Co-creators Damon Lindelof (Crossing Jordan) and Jeffrey Lieber (Tangled) both know a bit about drama as well. Lindelof helped string out the mystery behind the death of Jordan Cavanaugh's mother, and Lieber took Rachel Leigh Cook into the depths of love, lust, and murder. Together, this trio—along with an exceptional team of writers—unleashed the water cooler show of the 2004-05 television season.
From the series premiere to this very day, much has been written and talked about the actual whereabouts of everyone's new favorite castaways. Far from the wacky coconut shell drinking, musical stage show producing hijinks displayed by the passengers of the SS Minnow, the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 are in much deeper and darker waters.
There have been a multitude of theories presented as to why the plane went down and where the survivors wound up. Here's a quick look at the good, the bad, and the "I never thought of that!"
• Bermuda Triangle
• We're all Dead
• Failed Experiment
• Survivor: Lab Rats
Regardless of what the mystery turns out to be—rumor has it, the truth will be revealed in a feature film—we will continue to tune in each week to uncover subtle clues and red herrings that will keep our speculation going for at least another season, if not more.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Buena Vista
• Lost Flashbacks: Unaired Scenes from the Finale
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