Judge Brett Cullum still has his fingers crossed for a Nikki and Paulo spin-off.
Our reviews of Lost: The Complete First Season (published October 5th, 2005), 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 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.
"No matter what I do, you're gonna die, Charlie."
After a stellar first season and a second year that had some fans foaming at the mouth, Lost had a lot riding on its third season. It remained one of the most expensive television shows to produce, but ratings were sliding suggesting the masses were losing patience with the elaborate games the producers were playing. They wanted answers, and they wanted them posthaste. Why did the plane crash? Who are the Others? What's with the polar bears? How did Locke get crippled? And who the hell are these new characters Nikki and Paulo? Well, we wanted the answers to at least some of those queries. And damn it if Lost's third season didn't give us the answers to all of that and more. But of course in true Lost fashion, they raised about eight questions to counterbalance each answer. Damn these people. Oh, the delicious mystery.
So now just in time to make us all feel cheated by the ongoing writer's strike started in 2007, Buena Vista unleashes Lost: The Complete Third Season as we face a fourth broadcast year with only eight episodes completed so far. We all just need to take this set, clutch it to our chests, and cling to the answers we have been given. Who knows when we'll be back on the island with our favorite castaways? It's a solid season that starts off a bit slow, but builds into a strong finish. The whole year is given a great DVD set to compliment a batch of episodes that many championed as a return to form.
Facts of the Case
Executive Producer Carlton Cuse claims Lost is similar to the Harry Potter novels in that every year is designed to have its own unique arc and flavor. Themes emerge over 20-something episodes, and each season begins to have an identity all its own. Season one introduced the main characters and mysteries with everyone out in the elements fighting to survive, season two centered around an additional group of survivors with the "tail section" and the mysterious bunker or hatch which housed many secrets, and season three is all about the mysterious Others who have been on the island a lot longer than the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. They want their island back, and they seem like religious zealots about to unleash a jihad to return the land to their beloved Jacob.
At the start of season three we get six episodes concentrating on the imprisonment of Jack, Sawyer, and Kate at an Others' stronghold originally meant for animals. The Others are revealed not to be the psycho hillbillies glimpsed in the first two seasons, but rather a suburban perfect community that would rival Stepford for its pristine idyllic state. Among them are scientists, doctors, laborers, and a new rebellious generation. Sparks fly as Jack (Matthew Fox, Speed Racer) meets up with a dead ringer for his wife, the icy Other named Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell, The Santa Clause 2). Kate (Evangeline Lilly, The Long Weekend) grows closer to Sawyer (Josh Holloway, Whisper) as they find themselves in neighboring cages. And all the while the Other's leader, Ben Linus (Michael Emerson, Saw), seems to have some dastardly plans to mess with everyone's head.
The castaways back at the beach are having equally strange issues. Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick, Hitman) has emerged from the hatch explosion with the power to see the future. John Locke (Terry O'Quinn, The Cutting Edge) reinforced his bond with the island, and set out to corner "Other Leader" Ben about it. Sun (Yunjin Kim, Diary of June) becomes pregnant despite Jin's (Daniel Dae Kim, Angel) impotence. Hurly (Jorge Garcia, Deck the Halls) finds a VW minibus, while Sayid (Naveen Andrews, Planet Terror) just tries to be a bad ass, even offing someone with his feet at one point. Charlie (Dominic Monaghan, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) and Claire (Emilie de Ravin, The Hills Have Eyes) set up house with the new baby, but impending sickness and a foretold death may ruin their plans. Oh yeah, and did I mention new characters Nikki (Kiele Sanchez, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium) and Paulo (Rodrigo Santoro, 300)? Maybe some things are better left unsaid.
Soon after a daring escape and disastrous rescue mission all the castaways are reunited, but the bad news is they have to launch a war with the Others in order to earn a chance to get off the island. Of course along the way people are going to die, mysteries will be raised, and the final twists and turns of the season reveal that season four just might be a whole new ball game. The series builds in to a frenzied finish line which was easily 2007's best season finale aired. Compare the final two hours with 24 or Heroes from the same year, and you'll see Lost won hands down for a strong finish.
I am one of those people who never lost faith in Lost, slavishly poured over every episode, listened to countless pod casts about the show, and even sought out all the books referenced on the series to see if I can glean extra knowledge about the grand mystery. Yep, I'm a fan. But even I grew a little tired with the way season two seemed to shoot out in a million fragmented directions while introducing new characters only to kill them off just as quickly as we got to know them. The show scrambled around still dramatically compelling, but the sure footing of the remarkable first year was missing. It seemed Lost might be not going anywhere, and that would be a major crime. Well, I'm here to tell you the 23 episodes found on Lost: The Complete Third Season are refreshingly back on track and engaging.
The Others were great characters to add to the mix of the show. They are the complete opposites of the survivors, and offered more menace and enigmas than the second group of tail section passengers illogically introduced during the sophomore year. Michael Emerson and Elizabeth Mitchell were incredibly well cast as Ben and Juliet, and they amped up everyone's acting game several notches. There were others who were even more mysterious like the unkillable Mikhail (Andrew Divoff, Wishmaster) and the seemingly ageless Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell, The Dark Knight). Add to that how the writers knew what to do with these additions to the cast. The plots move somewhere at last, and answers are given to mysteries that had remained unexplained since the pilot episode. It seemed the creative juices were finally flowing freely again, and the series course corrected itself to deliver one of the most exciting and daring years seen on broadcast television. The show finally felt smart, focused, and in the closing moments of the last episode proved it could still play crazy games with our heads.
Buena Vista provides an outstanding DVD set for Lost: The Complete Third Season which looks very similar to the previous two offerings. This time around we get a green plastic sleeve enfolding a cardboard gate with the words "Jacob Loves You" hidden not so subtlety under the series title. There's a spoiler-ridden season guide, and tons of nice season three promotional shots. The transfers are incredibly well done with a solid widescreen image that has no digital noise or problems. For the first time, the series is also offered in high definition Blu-ray, and it seems like the transfers are ready to evolve in to the next level of resolution easily. Each episode includes the "previously on Lost" segments, and wisely the network's misleading promotional spots were left out.
Extras are plentiful, as we've come to expect from the outstanding last two season releases which raised the bar for TV on DVD. Audio commentaries are scattered throughout the six discs, and nothing on the back cover or insert tells you where they are or who participates. It's easy enough to quickly access them under the "Bonus Features" from the main menu. But if you're looking for a list, here they are:
• Disc One—"A Tale of Two Cities" with Executive
Producer Damon Lindelof and Actor Elizabeth Mitchell
Strangely enough, the episode commentaries are subtitled just like the dialogue, so you can listen to or read them.
On the seventh disc, the menu comes up with six closed circuit camera screens on a bank. The 2, 3, 4, and 5 sets have Dharma logos when you pass over them, and the choices of the following content from a sub menu:
Easter eggs are scattered throughout the set, including one that shows the entire brainwashing film seen in the "Not in Portland" episode in widescreen. Most of these are on disc seven, but on disc three if you let the menu run a while, Juliet's card reads "By the way, your ex-wife is much prettier than me," something not seen in the show. Also confirmed are segments of Josh Holloway discussing the cages and fish biscuits, a look at how they did the table tennis scenes, wrangling chickens, making of the Jin/Mikhail fight, Dominic and Jorge playing Scrabble, extra crew footage, making of the flooding scene, the submarine location, Daniel and Dominic doing a crossword puzzle, spider wrangling, waterfall diving, and a look at a dog Jack Bender adopted. See the accomplices section for a link to the Lostpedia site that inventories these extras and how to find them if you're too impatient to play through all the menu screens.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Even though this is a ton of extras, when compared to Lost: The Complete First Season, it's not as extensive, and there aren't any puzzle features like the time-consuming connections game from the second season's set. Some have already criticized this aspect of the DVD, and it's certainly an issue. So far, the Internet's "The Lost Experience" has not been included, and we are still missing the clip and retrospective shows the network aired to get new viewers in the fold. These shows contained insights from the cast and executive producers explaining some of the key mysteries. It's a shame we can't revisit them on the DVD experience. With only four commentaries on this set I was wondering why they did not choose to explore the finale, "Through the Looking Glass."
It's still hard to believe these writers know exactly where all of this is going, and how they are resolving everything. There's almost too much waffling by the executive producers and writers when they alter the course of the story because of criticisms lobbed at them by fans. In this season we had the "Nikki and Paulo" debacle where two characters were introduced, inserted into old situations, and summarily rejected by vocal viewers who claimed it was all too abrupt and unconvincing. In one fabulous Twilight Zone stand-alone episode which even guest starred Billy Dee Williams (Lando!), they were dispatched and off the show for good.
Lost was criticized for having a split run in 2006 and 2007. The first six episodes were broadcast in the fall, and then the remaining 16 shows began running uninterrupted in spring (note that on the DVD set, the two hour finale is split in two episodes). Fans were vocal that the first six shows were weak in comparison with what came after them, and it did seem like a mistake to take the extended hiatus after only a taste of what season three was going to be. Executive producers Lindelof and Cuse lobbied the network to go to three seasons of consecutive sixteen episodes each with a definitive ending date. This was confirmed, meaning season three is the last time we will see 23 installments of the show released in a single year. Hopefully this means we will see extremely tight seasons where there is no stretching to fill a longer run which plagued year two and three. Lost finally has an end game plan, and we'll have to see if this hurts or helps ultimately.
My one regret in showing the Others so much this season is they did become a touch less scary. Finding out that they live a cushy life with clothes straight out of an LL Bean catalog made them seem almost too normal. Am I supposed to fear the wrath of suburban yuppies? Rabid soccer moms in the jungle don't seem threatening. Thankfully there's a mystery in their ranks revolving around who has been there the longest, and a mysterious figure introduced in a spooky cabin scene with Locke and Ben. These elements have kept the Others appropriately creepy.
Lost: The Complete Third Season delivers exactly what you want from the show. It gives us enough answers to make it feel the series is going somewhere, and it reinvents the format, allowing for new storytelling possibilities. As much as 2006 and 2007 found television audiences flocking to Heroes, Lost remained a strong intelligent show that delivered strong in the finale. Watching the third year on DVD proves to be a more cohesive and satisfying experience than the broadcast mistake of teasing six hours and then coming back months later. The DVDs also offer a generous amount of extras to wade through as we wait for the next season to start up.
Guilty of still being one of the best and most addictive television shows ever created even three years in. Lost continues the tradition of infuriating us with unsolved mysteries, creepy sequences, and a cast that knows how to capture our imagination. Free to go on for another three seasons, but with a warning that the payoff better be worth all of this.
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