Lost: The Complete Sixth Season

(2010) *** 1/2 Unrated
802 min. ABC. Cast: Matthew Fox, Terry O'Quinn.

/content/films/3830/1.jpgAfter six attention-grabbing seasons on the network airwaves, Lost has turned out to be more than the sum of its parts. Those parts have included intense character-based drama, a series-spanning "mythology" mystery, and genre theatrics of the action and science-fiction varieties. With the sixth season, co-creators/executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof faced the heavy burden of wrapping up the series in an artistically satisfying way that would, they hoped, also satisfy a majority of viewers. That task was made easier by the decision, years earlier, to set the series' end date in stone, allowing the writers to lay the proper amount of track to their final destination.

Even given that head start, Cuse and Lindelof haven't completely succeeded in providing a shapely narrative. The mystery has proved to be somewhat ungainly, and fans have groused about loose ends. But no one can argue that Lost stayed true to its character and its creators' intentions right to the end. Evolving from previous seasons defined by flashbacks and "flash-forwards," the sixth season broke the mold with a conceit dubbed "flash-sideways." The fifth season built to a climax involving an atomic bomb blast intended to "press the reset button" and cause Oceanic Flight 815 never to have crash-landed on a tropical island. In a stroke of storytelling genius, the season begins by suggesting Cuse and Lindelof didn't have to decide if the plan worked or not. In what mainfested as another J.J. Abrams-related alternate-universe tactic (see Star Trek and Fringe), both outcomes appeared to be true. The plane never crashed in one storyline we're allowed to follow, while the castaways deal with the fallout of a non-detonating dud in a simultaneous storyline. Which is reality? Might they both be reality? Ultimately, Cuse and Lindelof would suggest reasonably definitive answers to these and other questions about the nature of existence in Lost, while leaving enough ambiguity for multiple interpretations of meaning.

The long-anticipated showdown between man-of-science Jack Shepard (Matthew Fox) and man-of-faith John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) took an unexpected turn when Locke was murdered in Season Five. But O'Quinn remains a major presence in Season Six in a dual role: as the Locke who never crash-landed on the island and as the Man in Black, who has taken John's physical form to advance an endgame of escaping the island. The clash of good versus evil shares time with Jack's internal struggle to accept his destiny, putting rationality on the back burner and preparing for a leap of faith. The writing staff continues to serve the sprawling cast of characters: bad-girl-gone-good Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly), bad-guy-gone-good James "Sawyer" Ford (Josh Holloway), loveable lug Hugo "Hurley" Reyes (Jorge Garcia), tormented Sayid Jarrah (Naveen Andrews), sarcastic medium Miles Straume (Ken Leung), separated spouses Jin-Soo Kwon (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun Kwon (Yunjin Kim), crafty Ben Linus (Michael Emerson), traveler-in-time-and-space Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick), crazed single mother Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin), pilot Frank Lapidus (Jeff Fahey), ageless Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell), and mysterious Flight 316 survivor Ilana Verdansky (Zuleikha Robinson). The stakes are high as the heroes attempt to prevent a Pandora's Box from opening, and more than one character pays the ultimate price.

Part of the fun of Season Six is the way it incorporates faces from the past, and certainly there is time for humor and action as well as nostalgia. But the soul of the show is its poignancy in tracing how characters process their regret over bad choices and missed opportunities by seizing on the new ones in front of them: second chances for redemption. The show is spiritual at heart, more interested in existential mystery than the ins and outs of the Dharma Project and the Machiavellian machinations of wealthy industrialist Charles Widmore (Alan Dale). Cuse and Lindelof expertly used multiple forms of media to moderate the expectations of fans and prepare them to cope with the death(s) of the series. And now that Lost is laid to rest, and we're writing the obituaries, what does it matter what we say about a series? Perhaps the best epitaph would be that of Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose grave quotes another famous metaphysical shipwreck story, Shakespeare's The Tempest: "Nothing of him that doth fade/But doth suffer a sea-change/Into something rich and strange."

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Aspect ratios: 1.78:1

Number of discs: 5

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0

Street date: 8/24/2010

Distributor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Disney does it again with Lost: The Complete Sixth Season on Blu-ray. The five-disc set features stunning A/V quality, with hi-def transfers that are razor-sharp, with rich color and generally deep blacks. True to its source, the image can be grainy (and loses some sharpness in low light), but the series' typically bright, naturally-lit settings lend themselves to potent hi-def imagery. The sound, in top-of-the-line, lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, matches the picture. There's simply no complaining about these mixes, which are unusually meticulous and potent for a TV show; ambience is terrific and the action roars (especially Ol' Smokey).

Disc One kicks off with an audio commentary for "LA X" by executive producers and co-creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. These guys provide wall-to-wall excellence, in a good-natured conversation that covers their thinking heading into the sixth season and establishing devices in the premiere that would lead to the finale. Disc One also includes "Lost in 8:15 - A Crash Course" (8:26, HD), a recap montage of the series to date. For the record, the infamously snarky narrator (who gave the same treatment to Battlestar Galactica in the very similar "What the Frak Is Going On With Battlestar Galactica?") is Mary O'Brien, senior writer/producer at Met|Hodder in Minneapolis.

Disc Two includes an audio commentary for "Dr. Linus" by executive producers and writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, and actor Michael Emerson.

Disc Three includes audio commentary for "Ab Aeterno" by writers Melinda Hsu Taylor, Greggory Nations and actor Nestor Carbonell.

Disc Four includes audio commentary for "Across the Sea" by executive producers and co-creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof and executive producer Carlton Cuse.

The rest of the bonus features reside on Disc Five. Most fans will be heading straight here for "The New Man in Charge" (11:56, HD), an original short film that provides a coda to the series. It starts out winningly tongue-in-cheek, then ends on a poignant note. I'm guessing most die-hard Lost fans will love this extra, which prominenetly features Emerson, Garcia and an actor best left unnamed.

"Crafting a Final Season" (38:33, HD) is a thorough behind-the-scenes look at Season Six. the list of participants gives some idea of this featurette's depth: Cuse, Lindelof, Bender, Jorge Garcia, The Shield creator/executive producer Shawn Ryan, The X-Files director/producer Rob Bowman, The Rockford Files creator/executive producer Stephen J. Cannell, co-executive producer Paul Zbyszewski,executive producer Elizabeth Sarnoff, executive producer Adam Horowitz, Cheers creator/executive producer James Burrows, Dominic Monaghan, Ken Leung, Emilie de Ravin, story editor Graham Roland, Evangeline Lilly, producer Melinda Hsu Taylor, Yunjin Kim, camera operator Torry Tukuafu, executive producer Edward Kitsis, Nestor Carbonell, Izzy Diaz, grip James Thurston, script supervisor Diane Frauenholz, Mark Pellegrino, prop assistant Jennings Fowler, director of photography John Bartley, electrician Stephen Bacquet, Matthew Fox, 2nd second assistant director Norman Kali, Daniel Dae Kim, Henry Ian Cusick, Zuleikha Robinson, special effects man Kamuela Yurong, Michael Emerson, Josh Holloway, Naveen Andrews, writer Jim Galasso, Terry O'Quinn, Jeff Fahey, stills photographer Mario Perez, set production assistant Andrew Childers, second assistant director Joyce McCarthy, set production assistant Lindsay Owens, and co-producer and script coordinator Greggory Nations.

"A Hero's Journey" (8:57, HD) looks at the series' resonance with classical narrative archetypes identified by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Putting the characters and plot in perspective are Cuse, Lindelof, Nations, Yunjin Kim, Holloway, Fox, Galasio, Hsu Taylor, Kitsis, Zbyszewski, Garcia, Horowitz, Sarnoff, Daniel Dae Kim, O'Quinn, Andrews, and Pellegrino.

"See You in Another Life, Brotha" (8:36, HD) focuses on Season Six's "flash-sideways" conceit, with Bender, Holloway, Rebecca Mader, Cusick, Monaghan, Daniel Roebuck, Tania Raymonde, Emerson, Yunjin Kim, Garcia, Cuse, Lilly, Lindelof, Zbyszewski, O'Quinn, de Ravin, Sarnoff, Maggie Grace, Kimberley Joseph, Horowitz, Kitsis, Anthony Azizi, Leung, Cynthia Watros, and Hsu Taylor.

As with previous seasons, we get a series of "Lost on Location" featurettes (28:40, HD), here covering the episodes "LA X," "The Substitute," "Recon," "Ab Aeterno," " and "Happily Ever After." We get tons of behind-the-scenes footage and comments from sculptor Jim Van Houten, Bender, costume designer Roland Sanchez, Joseph, Garcia, John Hawkes, Kali, water safety man Terry Ahue, second assistant director Benjamin Taylor Phillips, Holloway, stunt double Terry James, stunt coordinator Michael Trisler, second unit director Terry Leonard, master rigger Dave Shultz, medic Francis "Sonny" Julian, Leung, grip Ane Tranetzki, second assistant "A" cameraman Walrus Howard, Carbonell, Cusick, Monaghan, Bartley, first assistant camera man Paul Santoni, prop assistant Don Bracken, co-producer/first assistant director Richard Peter Schroer, Yunjin Kim, and Daniel Dae Kim.

Nine "Deleted Scenes" (9:39, SD)—disappointingly not in hi-def—add a few nice character tidbits, and we get entertaining "Lost Bloopers" (4:09, HD).

The most elaborate bonus feature, of course, may be Lost University: Master's Program, a BD-Live enabled bonus that takes an academic tack in allowing fans to consider the show's themes and allusions.

Disney also continues its fabulous Season Play option, which keeps track of your viewing progress for you as you watch the season.

The only way to have a more satisfying experience of Lost: The Complete Sixth Season is to get the Blu-ray Complete Series set, which crams even more extras into a tricked-out box set.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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