Lost: The Complete First Season review, Lost: Season One DVD review, Blu-ray review
Starring
Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Dominic Monaghan, Josh Holloway, Terry O’Quinn, Michael Perrineau, Naveen Andrews, Jorge Garcia, Maggie Grace, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim
Director
Various
Lost: The Complete
First Season

Reviewed by Deb Medsker

L

ast September, ABC’s “Lost” was an unproven quantity at best; a hideously expensive gamble at worst. Conceived by Lloyd Braun (former Chairman of ABC Entertainment) at a management retreat, the show bore an unpleasant whiff of “programming by committee.” The cast of castaways seemed just a little too perfectly multicultural (here’s the Asian couple, there’s the Muslim -- and, hey, look! An African-American single parent to complete the ethnic trifecta!), and insiders who had watched a preview of the pilot chuckled at the unseen monsters, making unfavorable comparisons to “Jurassic Park” and “The X-Files” and wondering what the hell was up with that polar bear.

What a difference a year makes. Wednesday night’s launch of “Lost"'s second season is undoubtedly the most highly-anticipated premiere of the fall, and there’s still time to get caught up on – or just relive the joys of – Season One on DVD. The chaotic aftermath of the crash is just as moving the second time around – more so, in fact, because our knowledge of each of the primary characters in this talented ensemble has grown so much richer over the past twelve months. Indeed, watching certain episodes through the filter of this greater understanding makes for an entirely new viewing experience.

Check out Jin’s flashback episode for a fleeting glimpse of Hurley on TV in the background; re-examine the early exchanges between Boone and Shannon now that the full scope of their relationship has been revealed. Study, too, the early behavior of both Locke and Walt to gain insights about them that may not have been readily apparent the first time through.

Maddeningly, though, no amount of repeat viewing will answer the lingering questions left dangling at season’s end. What is inside the hatch? What did Kate do to become a fugitive in the first place? Who are The Others, what does the giant unseen (except, interestingly, by Locke) monster look like, and, most importantly, what is the true nature of the island?

Dammit, with a DVD release that touts eight hours of bonus material, you’d hope that at least some light would be shed on one or more of these questions – but then you’d remember that the show is run by J.J. Abrams, creator of “Alias”, and you’d realize that hoping for concrete answers before he is good and ready to provide them is just a waste of time.

Speaking of which… those eight hours of “extras” might help people feel justified in dropping the 40-plus bucks the set costs, but viewing them all is not time well spent. Sure, there are some interesting bits on how the set designers got a giant (retired, and therefore not approved for flight) airplane to the site of the Hawaiian shoot, and it’s enlightening to know that Sun’s character was written into the pilot exclusively for Yunjin Kim after she auditioned for the role of Kate (and thus, Daniel Dae Kim can thank Yunjin for his most high-profile gig to date). It’s also fun to hear the back story behind Drive Shaft’s one-hit wonder, “You All Everybody” (hint: it involves a talk-show guest), and to view the hilariously un-scary attack of the catapult-launched polar bear that appeared in early ABC promos. For the most part, though, the deleted scenes and unaired flashbacks add nothing to the story, and the commentaries are dry and tend to repeat stories already told elsewhere within the extras.

For a series that thrives on conspiracy, secrets, and season-spanning story arcs, die-hard fans expect something special in the extras – ideally, of course, a cache of Easter eggs, rewarding viewers’ perseverance by providing more clues to the various mysteries of the island. The eggs are there (an alternate credit sequence, a longer recording of Rousseau’s transceiver message, the filming of one of Locke’s first scenes), but the rewards are not. Aside from an amusing nod to Dominic Monaghan’s hobbit roots, that opportunity appears to have been… lost.

Fortunately, Season Two – and the answers it promises to provide – is only days away.

Special Features: The new Blu-ray release of Season One doesn't really add anything in terms of supplemental material – all of the previous extras are here, as well as the added option of SeasonPlay – but the real bonus is being able to watch the show in high definition. This is the kind of series that benefits greatly from Blu-ray (the island locale, the booming soundtrack) and it's a worthwhile upgrade for any fan of the show.

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