It's rare for a show to come along and revolutionize television, and even more rare when it happens on network TV. But Lost accomplished just that when it hit the airwaves in 2004. Though others have tried to replicate Lost's success, the show remains a shining example of what ambition can do for television. Part of what makes Lost unique is its sprawling and diverse ensemble; part of it is the show's fearless embrace of "genre" (read science-fiction) trappings without sacrificing full-blooded character arcs and a novelistic frame. It's what you might get by putting The Wire, The Prisoner and an X-Men comic into a blender. Add in the show's phenomenally picturesque (and gloriously color-corrected) setting and sexy cast, and you get a show that, at the very least, has the potential to become seriously addictive.
Co-created by J.J. Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber, and Damon Lindelof, the show begins with a spectacular disaster: the crash of Oceanic Flight 815. Forty-eight survivors stumble from the wreckage onto the shore of a remote island, where they will have to learn to survive, to live with each other, and to strategize an escape. The show is laden with literary, philosophical and pop cultural allusions, but the initial impression comes from Lord of the Flies. Though William Golding's novel concerned schoolboys stranded on an island, in these days of arrested development, it's no stretch to see that, like the schoolboys, the series' characters are not only literally but figuratively lost. Lost even has corollaries to the novel's Ralph and Jack, the respective representatives of civilized reason versus the call of the wild: Dr. Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox of Party of Five) and the pointedly named John Locke (Terry O'Quinn of Abrams' Alias). Each comes into his own at the crash site, snapping into heroic action, but it's soon apparent that Jack wants to organize by restoring order and plotting rescue, while John throws himself into a personal redefinition as explorer of an island that has a supernatural life of its own.
All members of the ensemble are conspicuously in need of personal redemption, in ways that unfold over the course of the season in flashback. Each episode of the series prioritizes a single character to deepen his or her backstory. In the early seasons, this is accomplished largely in flashback, with the episode splitting its time between present and past struggles that illuminate each other. Among the other characters are fugitive Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly), rough-edged angle-player Sawyer (Josh Holloway), hulking lottery winner Hugo Reyes (Jorge Garcia), washed-up British rocker Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan of Lord of the Rings), ex-Iraqi Republican Guard soldier Sayid Jarrah (Naveen Andrews), pregnant Aussie Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin), Korean marrieds Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun Kwon (Yunjin Kim), privileged step-siblings Shannon Rutherford (Maggie Grace) and Boone Carlyle (Ian Somerhalder), contemplative older woman Rose Henderson (L. Scott Caldwell), and single father Michael Dawson (Harold Perrineau Jr. of Romeo + Juliet), in over his head with his gifted son Walt (Malcolm David Kelley).
The series distinguishes itself in nearly every way. The feature-film-quality production includes top-notch cinematography and editing, as well as invaluable scoring by in-demand composer Michael Giacchino (who these days scores all things Pixar and Abrams, including Up and Star Trek). The dramatic elements—including blossoming romances—are surprisingly moving, and the creativity and humor distinguished (get a load of one-hit-wonder Charlie's single "You All Everybody"). The sword the show lives and dies by, though, is its science-fiction mythology, which keeps audience's guessing with ever-unfolding mysteries. It's a tricky balance to keep an audience on the line, slowly doling out answers while posing new questions, developing plot twists but keeping the door open for continuing adventures. In the first season, the show's pace languished a bit, and towards the end of the season, the flashbacks began to feel like redundant efforts to stall the show's forward movement. Still, Lost's historic first season is close to a masterpiece in its style and successful endearment of a loyal cult audience to deeply flawed but lovable characters.
The first season of Lost on Blu-ray doesn't have the same jaw-dropping hi-def "pop" of the subsequent seasons—this one just looks a bit grainy and therefore softer and less dimensional than the rest—but it's still a noticeable improvement over the already handsome DVDs. The outstanding uncompressed 5.1 audio mixes, however, can stand up with the best of them for their "you are there" immersion of island ambience, action effects, and prioritized dialogue.
Plenty of bonus features here, all from the DVD set and still in standard def. "Pilot" has two commentaries with executive producers J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, and Bryan Burk. You'll also find a "Walkabout" commentary with writer David Fury, director Jack Bender and Terry O'Quinn; "The Moth" commentary with Lindelof, Burk and Dominic Monaghan; and "Hearts and Minds" commentary with writers Carlton Cuse and Javier Grillo Marxuach and actors Ian Sommerhalder and Maggie Grace.
The rest of the bonus features are divided into three sections. Departure (1:45:41 with "Play All" option, SD) begins with "The Genesis of Lost" (8:40, SD), a fascinating look at the show's inception made up of interviews with former ABC President of Entertainment Lloyd Braun, former ABC VP of Drama Heather Kadin, president of Bad Robot Entertainment Thom Sherman, ABD Entertainment President Stephen McPherson, J.J. Abrams, executive consultant Jesse Alexander, Lindelof, Burk, and executive consultant Jeff Pinkner.
Next is "Designing a Disaster" (7:59, SD), about the pilot's signature crash sequence. Participants include Abrams, producer Sarah Caplan, producer Jean Higgins, construction coordinator Jeff Passanante, Mark Thomson of Aviation Warehouse, Hawaii Film Commissioners Donne Dawson and Walea L. Constantinau, production designer Mark Worthington, special effects coordinator John J. Downey, Jorge Garcia, and Emilie De Ravin.
"Before They Were Lost" (23:01, SD) deals with casting and includes clips of audition tapes. Interviewed are Abrams, Lindelof, casting director April Webster, Yunjin Kim, Daniel Dae Kim, Garcia, Burk, McPherson, Maggie Grace, Ian Somerhalder, De Ravin, Dominic Monaghan, Josh Holloway, Pinkner, Naveen Andrews, Harold Perrineau, Terry O'Quinn, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Sherman, and Higgins. Also on tap (and also with a "Play All" option): twenty-five minutes of audition-tape footage of Fox, Lilly, Monaghan, Andrews, Yunjin Kim, Daniel Dae Kim, Holloway, Garcia, Somerhalder, Grace, Perrineau, Malcolm David Kelley and Emilie De Ravin.
The behind-the-scenes featurette "Welcome to Oahu: The Making of the Pilot" (33:22, SD) includes comments from Monaghan, Lindelof, Abrams, director of photographer Larry Fong, Lilly, Fredric Lehne, Burk, Grunberg, Caplan, Fox, Higgins, Somerhalder, Andrews, Alexander, Holloway, visual effects supervisor Kevin Blank, Perrineau, Grace, Daniel Dae Kim, De Ravin, stunt coordinator Gregg Smrz, stuntman Frank Torres, O'Quinn, editor Mary Jo Markey, McPherson, and Michael Giacchino.
In "The Art of Matthew Fox" (6:07, SD), Fox narrates a montage of his set photographs, and in "Lost @ Comicon" (1:50, SD) Lilly and Monaghan testify to the fan reaction to the show.
The second suite of bonuses, Tales from the Island (1:02:48 with "Play All" option, SD), includes three sections. Lost on Location is itself subdivided into "The Trouble with Boars" (5:20, SD), "White Rabbit" (3:20, SD), "House of the Rising Sun" (7:19, SD), "The Moth" (1:48, SD), "Confidence Man" (4:24, SD), "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues" (4:55, SD), "Whatever the Case May Be" (2:57, SD), "Hearts and Minds" (6:21, SD), "Special" (3:05, SD), and "Exodus" (9:21, SD), each providing a summation of the key ideas and production details from a given episode. Interviewed in these featurettes are Bender, Higgins, supervising producer/writer Christian Taylor, stunt coordinator Michael Vendrell, Fox, O'Quinn, Grillo-Marxuach, Yunjin Kim, Daniel Dae Kim, Perrineau, Monaghan, VFX co-supervisor Ivan Hayden, producer/writer Jennifer Johnson, Holloway, Lindelof, Lilly, Cuse, Somerhalder, Grace, director Greg Yaitanes, and Kelley.
In the Jimmy Kimmel Live segment "On Set with Jimmy Kimmel" (7:15, SD), the late-night host visits with Fox, Monaghan, Lilly, Garcia, Holloway on location in Hawaii.
"Backstage with Drive Shaft" (6:40, SD) finds Monaghan, Burk, and Lindelof commenting on Charlie's history with his band, illustrated with behind-the-scenes footage.
Lastly, Lost Revealed (also with "Play All" option) includes five sections. "The Lost Flashbacks" offers two bonus flashbacks: "At the Airport: Claire" (3:07, SD) and "At the Airport: Sayid" (1:28, SD). There are fifteen "Deleted Scenes" with a "Play All" option; "Bloopers from the Set" (4:17, SD); special program excerpt "Live from the Museum of Television & Radio" (10:56, SD) with Abrams, Daniel Dae Kim, Burk, Somerhalder, Cuse, Monaghan, Perrineau, Holloway, Yunjin Kim, Garcia, Andrews, and Fox; and "Flashbacks & Mythology" (7:28, SD) with Bender, McPherson, Pinkner, Abrams, Alexander, Cuse and Lindelof explaining the show's unique structure and content.
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