While the series has had some lesser moments (especially the second season), "Lost" remains - in my opinion - one of the most compelling dramas on network television, with a strong cast and solid writing that's gotten better again in the third season. "Flight 29 Down" is another castaway drama that has aired on Discovery Kids since 2005, and while the series is different in some ways than "Lost" (and reportedly started production prior to "Lost", "Flight" often gets compared negatively to the more adult ABC series.
"Flight 29 Down" opens with a group of kids on a trip in a tiny charter plane (without their parents) headed to Micronesia. While they laugh and goof around, the trip suddenly takes a turn for the worse when their little plane goes through a storm and is forced to make an emergency landing on a deserted island.
While the teens initially think they may be rescued, evidence soon points to the fact that they're far from civilization and hopes of rescue soon fade. However, a couple of the kids don't seem to have any idea of their trouble, including rich girl Taylor (Lauren Storm), whose first line after stepping onto the beach is, "This is a really cheesy airport."
This illustrates why I've never really been able to get into this series. While some of the characters have changed since the show started, a few of the characters still remain too dense to be believed. Some of the dialogue also stands out like a sore thumb: whether or not Taylor is a stereotypical rich girl, no one steps away from a plane wreck and goes, "This is such a cheesy airport." Although a few of the characters are dim (who has water fights when water is in short supply?), Taylor has been written as too dim to be believed. In the first episode on this second volume, she watches another character try to spear a fish and one of the other characters remarks that "all he's going to spear is his foot." Taylor comments, "Well, there is no way I'm eating his foot." Oddly enough, the youngest character remains the most intelligent.
While much of the show's dialogue is fine enough, some stretches of it can be awfully clunky and, at least in these early episodes, there's a few too many petty teen conflicts to be believed. In an episode in this second volume, a character saves the life of another character, then that character participates in humiliating the character who saved his life from an allergic reaction. I could also do without the video diaries that the characters do (with a solar-powered camera) where they essentially look into the camera and tell the audience what's going on.
Still, there's a few things I like about the series, such as the eventual emphasis on teamwork and the performances by Corbin Bleu ("High School Musical") as Nathan and Hallee Hirsch as Daley. These two seem like the most natural and believable, while the other performances can seem forced (or, in some cases, quite forced.) The show's Hawaiian locations also certainly make for some nice visuals, as well.
This second volume of the series on DVD follows the kids as they continue to learn about their surroundings and quickly improve their survival skills as they try to hunt down new sources of food. They also face emergency when one of the characters suddenly finds that he's allergic to the group's new source of food: oysters. There's also more time to explore conflicts and relationships between the characters, as well, although the show's strength is when these characters cease having minor issues with one another and band together to try and figure out how to cope with their situation.
"Flight 29 Down" has certainly gained a following, but I'm still not sold. This is a kids show and certainly different than "Lost" in many regards, but the series is a little too watered down and the core idea of kids stuck on an island and having to fend for themselves really could have made for a more compelling series.
This set includes the first 4 episodes of the series.
VIDEO: The 1.33:1 full-frame presentation from Genius Entertainment looks quite good. While sharpness and detail aren't outstanding, the picture looks crisp, clean and about broadcast quality throughout. Some slight artifacting and shimmer shows up, but the majority of the running time appeared free and clear of any issues. Colors looked natural and without any flaws.
SOUND: The show's stereo soundtrack offered crisp, undistorted dialogue and sound effects.
EXTRAS: The extras are a series of short featurettes: "Welcome to Sunny Oahu" (about 1 minute, a brief overview of the area), "Trouble on Set" (a discussion of the act of blessing the set and the results that blessing the "Flight" set has had), "Just Plane Distracting" (the distraction of being interrupted by flyovers from the nearby airfield), "How Flight 29 Down Was Born" (the show's creator discusses his thoughts on the series, which was originally going to be an adult series - when "Lost" happened, the series was changed to a kids' show), "What If Lauren Ruled the Set?" and finally, "How Are you Like Your Character?". There's also previews for other titles from Discovery Kids.
Final Thoughts: "Flight 29 Down" has certainly gained a following, but I'm still not sold. The characters make some bizarre choices (two characters have a water fight in an episode...when they need to be conserving water) that even kids wouldn't make and there are some other problems that persist throughout these episodes, as well. The DVD presentation offers very good audio/video quality and a few minor extras. Recommended for fans.