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Lost: The Complete First Season
If you somehow haven't given into the peer pressure from practically everyone you know that watches the show (because I'm sure you know plenty of people who do), LOST starts things off by foreshadowing what the tone of the entire series will be, a story with a big picture that's clouded in confusion and hysteria. 48 survivors of Oceanic flight 815 find themselves littered across the beach on an island, the wreckage of their plane still threatening to take lives if people don't start helping each other out. Doctor Jack Shephard's 'fight or flight' reflex has him start pulling people away from imminent danger, clearing them from the path of falling debris. Amongst the people he meets is a fugitive, a conman, an ex-torturer for the Iraqi Republican Guard, a well know musician, an unlikely (and unlucky) millionaire, a rich do-gooder and his snotty sister, a father who just awkwardly gained custody of a son he doesn't know very well, a middle aged woman who's holding onto faith that her husband is still alive somewhere, a pregnant woman, a foreign couple with marriage issues, and a mystery man that's packing a suitcase full of knives.
After the initial madness dies down a little, they work on setting up camp and start thinking about how they might be able to MacGyver something to create a rescue signal. Their 'whistle while you work' attitude skips like a needle on a broken record however when they hear a monster (and see it knocking trees over) in the jungle, see polar bears hunting in the wild, hear cryptic messages whispered from the trees, and come across a mysterious hatch that's been buried in the ground. The most troubling news of all is finding out they're not the only ones on the island. An imposter kidnaps and kills for reasons unknown, a mysterious plane is found dangling from the top of a cliff, an old sail ship is abandoned in the middle of the jungle, and an ominous group known only as 'the others' threaten the lives of everyone in camp and make it very clear there's no one way ticket out of this paradise.
The clear objective of the first season is to hook an audience, and it does so very effectively by incorporating the characters personal histories with events as they unfold on the island. Every episode focuses on a new person and a dilemma they have to overcome, intricately weaving their prior life experiences around the important and often life altering decisions they have to make. Paralleling the alternating time lines ensures the central story stays fresh by adding an incredible amount of relevance and depth to everything that happens. There's an awfully large cast that the show follows, and the fact that the writing and acting is good enough to make them all interesting is pretty impressive. If the characters were portrayed poorly for whatever reason, this first and integral season of the show could have been a flop. After all, this season merely acts as the setup, a setting of the stage. If character development failed, so would the show. Fortunately that's not the case, as not only were each of the characters pulled off without a hitch, some of them ended up being some of the most interesting characters on television, period.
Most notable of all are Jack Shephard and John Locke, the most dominant roles on the island. They both have different opinions on the way life works and how they need to go about doing things to ensure their survival. Jack being a doctor and all believes that things don't just 'happen for a reason', that there has to be a logical explanation for everything. Locke's role on the island is also of great significance as he was paralyzed from the waist down before he arrived on the island, yet now he's perfectly fine. This dynamic introduces a theme that's vital to the series in its entirety, science versus faith. Is this all merely a bad stroke of luck, or were the survivors meant to crash land on this particular mystery island? If you're already a fan of the show, you already know how important this ideology is to the series as a whole. If you think you know everything there is to know about LOST but haven't started over from the beginning as of yet, then think again. I think you'll find the first season offers some incredibly subtle clues that can really only be understood after taking the rest of the series into consideration. Armed with a great deal of knowledge after five seasons, insignificant nothings in the first season surprisingly transform into revelatory atom bombs. For a series that self advertised itself in the second season saying 'everything happens for a reason', you owe it to yourself to start from square one to find out just how true that really is.
This Blu-ray release has provided me with the opportunity to go back and start from the beginning, despite being weary of how replay value would hold up. Thankfully, watching LOST all over again is sort of like watching Donnie Darko for the second or third time. The more you watch, the more things make sense. There are still things that have been hinted at or eluded to that still have yet to be answered in the series, so this season's replay value is likely to remain high after things have been wrapped up in 2010. It doesn't matter if you're a die-hard fan, or somebody who has yet to discover what makes LOST such an interesting episodic piece of work. It's just as fresh now as it was when it premiered, with how complicated the subject matter is, that's saying something.
LOST's first season hits Blu-ray with a very nice 1080p AVC encode (1.78:1). It's a show that was practically made for the likes of high definition, with its beautiful scenery both on the beach and in the middle of the jungle. As the prospect of LOST in high definition promised, there's a pretty staggering upgrade here in clarity, definition, and color saturation. Black levels are much improved over the standard DVD as well, lending an already pretty nice transfer the ability to have a decent amount of depth. It's a tad uneven though, as the first season displays ever so lightly blown contrast levels, causing some of the fine colors in the jungle to look a tad too saturated, and also causes the feeling of depth to come and go at times. I don't blame any of this on the transfer itself however; we all know that Disney knows how to provide some of the best quality transfers available to the format. This appears to be how the first season was shot, so I certainly can't fault anyone for that, especially since it doesn't really detract from the experience.
If you want the definitive picture quality for this show's beautiful jungle island imagery, there's no questioning that it's finally here. It's going to be incredibly difficult for anyone to not be satisfied with the presentation on this release, but there will be some noticeable differences in its appearance when compared to the seasons that come after it. Unlike the rest of the series, season one appears with plenty of film grain as opposed to the crystal clear image we've come to expect from seasons two and on. I was fairly surprised to find some very, very slight artifacting on a Disney product, but it only finds its way into the mix when there's a lot happening on the screen at once. As far as nasty post-processing such as edge enhancement or DNR, you won't find it here.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track was quite a surprise. Compared to the audio that's presented on the standard def DVD's, it's clearly a significant upgrade. The surrounds probably benefit the most from the lossless track, as subtle sound effects finally find their way to provide realistic ambience at any given point in an episode. When the action kicked up a notch, I found myself fully enveloped in whatever was happening, clearly able to hear each and every drop of rain or every crystal clear effect of the monster coming at me from all angles.
Or is it the subwoofer that benefits most? I was equally as impressed with just how much the show could pound and roar. No matter what was happening, dialogue remained intelligible at all times. The video presentation may be a little 'dated' compared to the rest of the series, but the audio design is nothing short of perfect. It doesn't matter if you've seen this in high definition over the air, or if you've only become accustomed to the first season via DVD such as I have. You've never heard the first season of LOST sound like this!
It's worth noting before I begin telling you about what this set has to offer, that there was no booklet inside this set that gave a rundown and description of the episodes. This struck me as fairly odd, considering this was something that was originally included in the standard definition DVD set. Perhaps I received an oddity of the bunch? A lost booklet has been known to happen with certain releases. This appears to be a final retail version of the set however from everything I can gather though, so I wouldn't count on the booklet being included in any of your sets either. If anybody happens to purchase a set that has this included, please provide me with an e-mail saying so and I'll be sure to update this portion of the review.
Audio Commentaries - Five audio commentaries are included here, and if you're already familiar with the commentaries that are available on the DVD set, then you already know what's here. They're interesting commentaries from beginning to end, as pretty much every aspect of the show is discussed in a way that's intelligible enough for the most interested LOST fans out there, while remaining low key enough for those that aren't terribly interested in technological detailing they might not understand. Creators of the series take their time to provide insight on the opening episodes of the series, while other tracks feature the inclusion of certain actors from the show. Terry O'Quinn is a very welcome addition for commentary on the Locke central episode Walkabout, and Dominic Monaghan kept the conversation light and fun with The Moth. Maggie Grace and Ian Sommerhalder are the only ones that make this a slightly less than perfect experience overall, as they really don't have much to offer when discussing Hearts and Minds. If you go into these commentary tracks expecting any new information that wasn't there before or earth shattering secrets about the rest of the series, then you're going to be disappointed. If you can appreciate the discussion for the events that are solely happening in the first season, then I think you'll find these to be a pleasant experience through and through.
The LOST Flashbacks - All-New, Unseen Flashbacks Reveal Additional Secrets - These flashbacks were cut from the season finale, one focuses on Claire and the other on Sayid. Advertising them as snazzy secret revealing flashbacks is pretty misleading, as they offer nothing in the way of extra information.
Welcome to Oahu: The Making of the Pilot - Behind the Scenes Featurette on LOST's Premiere Episode - This is a very nice supplement that details everything about producing the two-hour premiere of LOST. You'll see how the seemingly perfect casting calls were made, the writing process that kept fans thirsty for more after each cliffhangin' episode, and cast and crew interviews to round it out.
The Genesis of LOST - Series' Creators Tell How the Show Was Conceived - For being such a complex and complete experience as LOST has turned out to be, this featurette surprised me with how the entire ideology for the show was created. This is a must watch for any fan of the show.
Designing a Disaster - Exciting Insights Into the Look of LOST - Getting the parts necessary to stage the plane crash from the opening scenes of the series was a pretty daunting task, and is outlined in this short featurette.
Before They Were LOST - This is a more in-depth look at how the show was cast, and includes clips from audition tapes that helped ultimately decide who was going to end up on one of the most intriguing shows in recent years. You can access the audition tapes for most of the main actors on the show individually, or watch them all in one viewing. I'm one who always enjoys seeing audition tapes, as it tends to give me a sense of magic, the moments when a show really starts to come together. This is no different on the first season set of LOST and recommend everyone take the time to check these out.
Deleted Scenes/Bloopers From the Set - There are fifteen deleted scenes and a blooper reel that's available here, and they're all pretty interesting to watch. It's easy to see why some of the scenes were stripped, but others would have served the show's purpose very well. In the end, everything that needed to be shown was, and I couldn't imagine the cuts for any of the episodes being improved with the inclusion of these scenes. An interesting watch for fans of the show, but don't expect anything mind-blowing to come your way. The bloopers are incredibly entertaining to watch though, as it's entertainingly strange to see each of these characters break out of their role for comedic effect.
Season Play - A nice inclusion for those that can't be bothered with remembering which episode they left off with in a season, or don't want to bother finding their place in an episode they weren't able to finish. Season Play keeps track of your status during a season, so there's no more room for starting up an episode and watching for a couple of minutes only to find out you've seen that one before.
The Art of Matthew Fox - Matthew Fox (Jack Shephard) took a bunch of photos during the production of the pilot episode, making something special of it all for the cast to enjoy. Matthew voiceovers his work while we get to see the moments he captured on film.
LOST at Comicon - This is a very short featurette that shows audience reaction to the pilot episode before it debuted on television. The usual cast and crew panel discussion is nowhere to be seen, making this sort of a gratuitous extra that you can miss.
LOST on Location - This is a fairly complete behind-the-scenes look at the production of ten of this season's episodes. You can expect lots of footage that detail how things are done, as well as cast interviews. This is one that any fan of the series shouldn't miss.
On Set with Jimmy Kimmel - This is another gratuitous sort of extra, but its entertainment value is undeniably worthy of inclusion. Kimmel goes on location with the cast of LOST, asking some off the beaten path type of questions for comedic effect. Check this one out.
Backstage with Drive Shaft - Dominic Monaghan discusses his role as Charlie, heroin junkie and famous musician for his band in the series, Drive Shaft. There's also a brief look at how the one and only 'single' we know the band to be famous for in the show came to be. I couldn't help but be reminded by how much I hated hearing You All Everybody a bajillion times throughout Charlie's flashbacks, because it was one of those mindless tunes you couldn't help but get stuck in your head.
Live from the Museum of Television and Radio - There may not have been a panel discussion clipped on to the Comicon featurette, but that's been rectified here as the cast and crew discuss the first season of the show in a similar fashion.
Flashbacks and Mythology - The use of flashbacks throughout the series becomes more and more clear as each layer of the island's mysteries are peeled away, so the inclusion of a short featurette detailing the 'why' of its use is sort of unnecessary. Despite knowing it probably won't offer any earth shattering info, it's a featurette that's bound to draw in numerous viewers based on sheer curiosity alone.
D-Box Motion Control is also available, an interesting feature that grants the ability to experience motion during your viewing experience at home. Unfortunately, it seems the D-Box motion system is over a thousand dollars at the moment, so I don't know how many people are really going to buy into this, but it's nice to know the feature is there. I can only imagine what the plane crash flashback sequences will offer utilizing this feature...
If you already own the first season of LOST on DVD, Disney is offering an incentive for your upgrade in the way of a rebate for twenty dollars. All you need to do is send in the slip that's included inside the case, a proof of purchase tab or UPC from your original, previously purchased LOST season set, and cash register receipt that's dated between 6/16/09 and 6/16/10. Don't expect a whopping forty dollars if you buy both however, as it seems there's a limit to one per household. It's still not a bad deal in the least, as you're still getting a nice ten dollar rebate per season this way.
Overall the features for the first season of LOST are fantastic. There's plenty of information that's been offered up on about every aspect of the show's production, and there's hardly going to be anyone who can scoff at what's available. The only downside is that most of these features have already been seen on the DVD set, but it was a pretty complete experience back then as well, so I can't really complain. The only extra features I could have asked for would have been about shedding a significant amount of light between events that happen in the later parts of the series that are only hinted at in the first season, but I imagine the eventual complete series box set that will come out somewhere down the line might include something like that. Besides, it could have offered a very negative possibility of spoiling the series for those that are just getting into it now.
Let's cut right to the chase. The first season of LOST is just as rewarding as it ever was, albeit in a different way. The first time you watch through this season you're bound to get hooked by the show's ability to weave alternate character storylines together with the island's mysteries. Watch through the series that's been released in its entirety thus far, and the jaw-dropping moments of realization are only going to continue, thanks to the insignificant nothings you'll now be able to see as vital clues as to what may happen in the future seasons to come. Great shows come and go, but it's not often that one that's so complicated comes along and can withstand the test of time. With the first season coming to Blu-ray at a time when the series is just about to be wrapped up, LOST is finally given the chance to show its audience just how much replay value it has. Everything indeed happens for a reason.
To top it off, the video quality is a faithful presentation of the grainier, albeit more blown out quality of the first season. One also can't ignore the truly impressive lossless audio that such a show deserves. The extras are plentiful and informative, and there's even a chance for you to get a nice chunk of change back if you already own the first season on DVD. The only thing I found to be truly disappointing about this release is the lack of the booklet that gives you a description of every episode of the season, but it's an issue that pales in comparison to the content of the show itself. The inclusion of Season Play makes this a little more forgivable as well. It doesn't matter if you already own this season on DVD or not, this release comes highly recommended across the board. This is a show that really made the push for television series to be more theatrical in nature, and it still remains to be one of the most original concepts on television to date. If you're a fan of the show already or not, LOST - The Complete First Season on Blu-ray is begging for you to pick it up, and you won't be sorry you did.
-About the Author- Michael Zupan is primarily a film guy, but has a variety of places where you can enjoy his work otherwise. Check Bytesizeimpressions.com for video game op-ed pieces and podcasts, and be sure to check out the sister site, Byte-Size Cinema, linked up top. This writer also contributes significantly to in-print magazines such as Minecraft Explorer and Fortnite Explorer!