follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Buena Vista Home Video presents
Lost : The Complete First Season (2004-2005)

"Guys, where are we?"
- (Dominic Monaghan)

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: September 20, 2005

Stars: Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Dominic Monaghan, Naveen Andrews, Yujin Kim, Daniel Dae Kim, Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, Ian Somerhalder, Maggie Grace, Harold Perrineau, Malcom David Kelley, Emilie De Ravin, Terry O'Quinn
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, language, sexuality)
Run Time: Approx. 1068 min.
Release Date: September 06, 2005
UPC: 786936278040
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Desperate Housewives might have grabbed a bigger audience and bigger headlines, but Lost was the series that changed television. That may be overstating it a bit, but look at the facts—before the one-two punch of Housewives and Lost, ABC's ratings were in the toilet and, with a few exceptions, police procedurals and episodic dramas were the only new series able to find an audience and actually make it to a second season. And on paper, neither show looked lit on hit—mature nighttime soaps died out long ago, and Lost's odd duck premise (plane crash survivors are stranded on a mysterious, possibly magical tropical island) seemed destined to doom it to, at best, cult popularity (likely among the same small group of fanatics that followed Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams' spy series Alias). But they both turned out to be major hits, and Lost, in particular, had spawned a host of imitators—the series has made the airwaves safe for ambitious, continuity-laced, oblique dramas, if the 2005 fall slate is any indication (each major network has its own Lost-flavored series, from Invasion on ABC to Threshold on CBS and Surface on NBC).

Whether any of those series will draw an audience or last out the year is anyone's guess, but it's pretty clear that none of them would have been greenlighted by the big three were it not for the deserved breakout success of this sci-fi take on Gilligan's Island, the most bracingly original, ambitious, and mind-bendingly ambiguous TV show since the heyday of The X-Files. I'll admit, the premise sounds a little odd, but it's totally not the show I was expecting. Yeah, it's about a group of survivors (48, to be exact... at least at the start of the season) of a plane crash, stranded on a deserted island with little hope of rescue (the pilot informs a few of the passengers that the plane was 1,000 miles off course when it went down, before he is promptly eaten by the island's resident giant, tree-shaking beastie).

Oh, did I not mention that? It's where the weirdness begins in Lost stunning two-hour, motion-picture quality pilot (indeed, from week to week, the show, shot on location in Hawaii, looks like it must cost a fortune to film), in which we first meet the souls unlucky enough to have boarded Oceanic Flight 815 from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles. Creators Damon Lindelof and Abrams realized watching people try to simply survive on the island would be a little dull (we have Survivor for that), and have much bigger things in mind. We spend the first 40 minutes or so getting to know a few of them, including Jack (Matthew Fox), a doctor who quickly becomes the group's de facto leader as the survivors pulls themselves from the plane's wreckage on an otherwise picturesque beach. We watch as Jack meets pretty girl with a past Kate (Evangeline Lilly), saves a dying woman's life, contemplates pulling a piece of shrapnel out of a grievously wounded guy's chest, and sees someone sucked into the still-spinning jet engine. All fun, to be sure, but nothing out of the ordinary... until the first night, when, from the jungle, comes a prehistoric roar (that's not a spoiler... the beast's nature remains a mystery... but it does sound kind of like our friend from Jurassic Park). The sound is accompanied by a lot of shaking trees, and whatever the beast is, it's clearly big. It definitely isn't, for example, the polar beach that another castaway, the angry loner Sawyer (Josh Holloway) shoots dead the next day. But a polar bear on a tropical island... that's kind of weird too, right?

From there, things only get stranger. Over the course of 24 episodes, the survivors try to piece together just what exactly it is they've landed, with what meager clues they can find... a cryptic recording of a French woman's voice, picked up by a salvaged radio, which appears to have been on a loop for 16 years. The appearance of what seems to be ghost, if it isn't a hallucination. A big secret, literally buried beneath their feet... It's hard to say much more, since all this unfolds slowly over the course of the year. Know too much going in, and you're ruining some killer surprises.

The biggest surprise, though, is the fact that the island shenanigans, as entertaining and steeped in mystery as they are, aren't really the point of Lost. Some shows struggle to create a few strong supporting characters to back up a headliner; Lost has 14 leads, distinct characters with unique backgrounds and motivations, slowly revealed over the course of the season via flashback (it helps that the cast is outstanding, to a person). Because we don't know these people going in, even providing more than a brief character description could be considered a spoiler. But these aren't cookie cutter, monster bait characters—each feels like someone real, and many are unique in the world of broadcast television. There's Harry Knowles-sized Hurley (Jorge Garcia), for example, a big fat guy who isn't the butt of a lot of jokes, but the heart of the show. Or Sun (Yujin Kim) and Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), a Korean couple that speaks no English (their dialogue is subtitled throughout, though only when they're speaking to each other—if other characters are around, we're all left in the dark). There's Michael (Harold Perrineau) and his 10-year-old son Walt (Malcolm David Kelley), who, due to a divorce, really only met a few weeks before the crash. Charlie (Dominic Monighan) is a member of a failed one-hit-wonder pop group, struggling with heroin withdrawal. He fancies blonde and beautiful Claire (Emilie de Ravin), who happens to be very pregnant. And what's up with sniping siblings Boone (Ian Somderhalder), always brooding, and Shannon (Maggie Grace), who acts like a spoiled brat? These descriptions give you an idea of who they are, but the flashback structure tells us why they are who they are, and that's why the show works.

It's the people, in fact—not the monster, or the much-discussed cursed numbers, or the unseen "others" that may inhabit the island—that are the show's real mystery. If it were all about the sci-fi, it never would have attracted an audience (imagine The X-Files without the Mulder/Scully chemistry and you get... one of the dozen or so failed X-Files clones from the past decade). Yes, they're all stuck on a crazy island (or dead and in limbo, depending on which message board theory you subscribe to), but these are still flawed, very human characters that viewers can relate to. The plot mechanics are a lot of fun, don't get me wrong, but they're just a garnish—the characters' intertwining back stories are the real meal.

Some viewers feel differently, of course. Almost as soon as the show began, people started clamoring for answers—what is the monster? Why are these people on the island? What's going on with the hatch? By the end of the season, some questions had been answered, but the most important ones were not. Some took this to mean the show was going nowhere, and voiced their concerns. Personally, I think they're missing the point. I have faith that the writers know where the show is going, and eventually everything will be spelled out for us, but if that never happens, it won't invalidate the good stories they've told about this disparate group of people. Series of this caliber and cultural impact don't come along very often, and I suppose the cynicism is perfectly natural, considering the way The X-Files ended (answers that weren't really answers, a mythology so complex, not even the show's creator could piece it all together). But based on the stellar writing in Season One, I'd say the creative team has earned the benefit of the doubt.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in anamorphic widescreen, seeing Lost on DVD is enough to make you wish it looked that way on TV (the show airs in fullscreen, unless you watch the high-definition broadcast). The image is very sharp, with strong colors, good contrast, and great, largely grain-free shadow detail during night scenes. With the extras confined to a seventh disc, the episodes themselves are given plenty of room to breath, and I noted no instances of artifacting or significant aliasing.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Mixed in 5.1 surround, Lost's sound-design is also a step above the usual TV release. The front soundstage is expansive, with dialogue anchored in the center channel and strong stereo separation in the front mains, which frequently exhibit panning and directional effects. The surrounds are also constantly active, either augmenting the score, helping to recreate the island's jungle atmosphere, or providing support during action sequences. To top it all off, there's a surprising amount of bass as well. A lot of TV shows are cinematic these days, but few sound this good.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 196 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
9 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Dark Water, Lost: Season Two, Alias: The Complete Fourth Season, Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season, Scrubs: The Complete Second Season, Jimmy Kimmel Live, TV on DVD
13 Deleted Scenes
2 Documentaries
15 Featurette(s)
5 Feature/Episode commentaries by cast and crew on Pilot parts 1 & 2, Walkabout, The Moth, and Hearts and Minds
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
7 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Lost flashbacks
  2. Audition tapes
  3. Bloopers
Extras Review: Though Lost is obviously first and foremost a TV show, it plays like it was made for the "complete season" DVD market, and this inaugural set makes it clear the producers have had shiny discs in mind since the series' inception. The back of the box promises eight hours of bonus features, and for once, that's not tricky studio math (though, to be fair, that total does include the episode commentaries). Simply put, Lost's bonuses put every other TV on DVD set to shame. The sheer volume of material is more or less matched by its quality; though some of the material drags a little, none of it is boring, and some of it is downright clever. I'm typically a person who likes to know features are there but rarely watches them, but I found getting Lost well worth the trouble.

Before I get into the meat of the extras, I should mention the fine presentation. A lot of care went into this set, and every pet peeve I've ever had about a TV release is absent. The menus are elegant but unobtrusive (and, thankfully, spoiler-free), the discs have a "play all" option for both the episodes and the bonus materials, and chapter stops are well-placed and plentiful.

The first six discs carry the episodes, five of which feature commentary from various participants. The best of the lot is on the two-part pilot, the only to feature series' co-creator/producer J.J. Abrams (joined by co-creator Damon Lindelof and producer Bryan Burk). Not only is there in-depth discussion of the work that went into the pilot, but every once in a while, J.J. will literally stop the track to cut to a bit of behind-the-scenes footage using DVD's branching capabilities. The remaining tracks aren't quite as loaded with information, but are still worth listening to. In addition to the pilot, tracks are provided for Walkabout (with director/executive producer Jack Bender, writer David Fury, and actor Terry O'Quinn), The Moth (with Lindelof, Burk, and actor Dominic Monaghan), and Hearts and Minds (with writers Carlton Cuse and Javier Grillo-Marxuach, and actors Ian Somerhalder and Maggie Grace). Sadly, to get the DVDs out on time, the tracks had to be recorded while the season was still in production (the actors literally phone in their comments from Hawaii), meaning we don't get tracks for the climactic later episodes.

The rest of material (over three hours worth) is on Disc 7, grouped into three handy categories, each with its own "play all" option. Under Departure you'll find information on the series' rapid journey to the screen. The Genesis of Lost (08m:40s) is an interesting look at the development of the series, which began as a vague idea from former head of ABC Lloyd Braun. Through interviews with Lindelof and Abrams, we learn how an unworkable premise was crafted into a monster hit. Designing a Disaster (07m:57s) reveals how much work went into creating the plane wreckage so memorably featured in the pilot episode—the production actually purchased a retired passenger plane, cut it into pieces, and shipped it to Hawaii days before filming was set to begin. Interesting stuff.

There's more on the complications of the pilot episode in Welcome to Oahu (33m:20s), a revealing combination of interviews with producers and fly-on-the-wall production footage that reveals how the show went from outline to film in record time as the creators raced to have it ready for the fall 2004 schedule. Full of humor and frank commentary from the actors and behind-the-scenes talent, this is one of the better making-ofs of this length I've seen for film or TV.

I also quite liked Before They Were Lost (22m:45s) which focuses on the difficult task casting directors faced trying to fill 14 lead roles in a short amount of time. The piece includes portions of the audition tapes for almost every main character (accessible in full via a separate menu), but what I found most intriguing was that casting began before all the characters had even been fully defined, and the cast determined the characters, rather than the other way around. An inspired audition for the Kate role by Korean actress Yujin Kim, for example, led to the creation of the Sun and Jin relationship, which didn't exist in the original outline. In this area, you'll also find Audition Tapes (23m:28s) for Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Dominic Monaghan, Naveen Andrews, Yujin Kim, Daniel Dae Kim, Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, Ian Somerhalder, Maggie Grace, Harold Perrineau, Malcom David Kelley, and Emilie De Ravin.

Closing out the Departure section is a brief featurette on the series' pre-season buzz, Lost at Comic-Con (01m:50s), and a narrated gallery of panoramic still photos actor Matthew Fox took during production (06m:07s).

That would be plenty for most DVD sets, but there's still a lot more, much of which is located in the next category, Tales from the Island. This section goes more in-depth into the day-to-day grind of putting out a TV show, particularly the section Lost on Location, a collection of eight featurettes focusing on the challenges of a specific episode, including House of the Rising Sun, All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues, Confidence Man, Whatever the Case May Be, Hearts and Minds, Special, and the series finale Exodus, plus a more general piece, The Trouble with Boars, that proves it's hard to find good pigs these days. This section also includes a corny set visit from the talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live (07m:15s) that's good for a laugh if you think Jimmy Kimmel is funny (anyone?), and possibly my favorite extra on the entire set, Backstage with Driveshaft (06m:40s). As fans are no doubt aware, Driveshaft is the fictional band that Charlie belongs to. This featurette explores the development of that concept, including the creation of the "hit song" You All Everybody, which has an amusing origin.

But wait, there's still another lengthy section to get through—Lost Revealed houses a collection of 13 deleted scenes with a total running time of 14m:41s. Much of the material is interesting, but it isn't always clear what was cut from which episode. Two "lost" flashbacks from the series finale are found on another menu (they were cut for time rather than content or story flow, so I guess they are "lost" instead of deleted), for those wondering what else Claire and Sayid did that fateful day at the airport.

Aside from a funny blooper reel (04m:40s), this section includes the last substantial bonus, a largely fluffy but very amusing excerpt from the cast and creators' appearance at the Museum of Television and Radio. The 10m:54s chat includes a few familiar stories that have now become a part of Lost lore, but it's still fun to watch the cast joke around onstage.

If you're still searching for more, there are a few "lost" bonus features hidden on Disc 7, including an alternate title sequence, a few alternate takes of a scene with Terry O'Quinn, and a Lord of the Rings-themed comedy bit with Maggie Grace and erstwhile hobbit Dominic Monaghan.

Extras Grade: A+


Final Comments

Found: The best contemporary TV on DVD release ever. From top to bottom, Lost: The Complete First Season is the set you'd want if you were stranded on a deserted island. The audio and video are of motion picture quality, the bonus features are plentiful, and the island's mysteries, as well as the characters', are well worth revisiting while you're waiting for answers in Season Two.


Back to top

Microsoft Store

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store