JJ Abrams, who gained TV success with the popular WB drama "Felicity" and then followed up with "Alias", somehow managed to sell ABC on an idea about a group of plane crash survivors trying to survive on an uncharted island. The series could have easily gone wrong in so many ways, such as seeming like a dramatized version of "Survivor".
Thankfully, Abrams, exec producer Damon Lindelof and company have managed to steer clear of expectations and obstacles in order to create a wholly original and utterly remarkable series. "Lost" is easily one of the finest TV shows to arrive in years. To discuss more than the basics in this review would be doing the series an injustice, but there are some details offered for both the first and second season here (although a lot of the larger elements are left out), so those who want to go in fresh about either starting from the beginning or continuing with season 2 on DVD should skip the rest of the review of the show.
"Lost" opened with Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox, in a great effort) waking up on an island. As he slowly regains conciousness, he steps into utter chaos. The wreckage of the plane, engine still working, fuel still dangerous, looms large over the scattered debris. After a few seconds of surveying the damage, Jack goes into action, helping the injured and trying to direct people to safety. It's here that we meet some of the survivors, including Locke (Terry O'Quinn, in an exceptional performance), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), Sayid (Naveen Andrews), Hurley (Jorge Garcia), Charlie (Dominic Monaghan, of "Lord of the Rings"), Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and Shannon (Maggie Grace).
It's not long before the survivors have gathered what materials they can from the plane, and have gathered together to sit out what they find will be a very long wait. With Jack being the only doctor on the island, the group begins to look to him and consider him their leader. With not a lot of hope in sight, the survivors are certainly not comforted by the presence of something sinister in the forest, as well as the hints that they are not the only ones there. To add yet another layer to the proceedings, throughout the season we find that many of the survivors are not entirely who they seem.
While many felt that the second season of "Lost" did not live up to the first season, the series was hurt by - among other things - a series of breaks (a few weeks here, a couple of weeks there) that broke the rhythm of the story. The second season of the show opens with the survivors finding out what is located in the hatch that was found towards the end of the first season. However, while that question may have been answered, others arise throughout the season.
Soon enough, it's found that the passengers from the tail section have lived through the crash, although they've found conditions on the island to be even more brutal and unforgiving than the survivors from the front section. The new group is lead by Ana-Lucia (Michelle Rodriguez), a former police officer whose meeting with the front group results in tragedy. A character that added controversy, Ana-Lucia quickly became the character everyone loved to hate on the series. While she does play a role, she largely provides conflict here that doesn't serve the show all that well.
Other additions are Libby (Cynthia Watros) and Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). A former drug kingpin, Eko quickly becomes one of the most fascinating characters on the series. It's a stellar performance - incredibly subtle and able to show warmth and, a minute later, be incredibly intimidating. Despite the great addition of Eko, the series takes a little too long introducing and integrating these characters. While the season does start well, the episodes that focus on introducing the tail section do slow things down.
As for the main characters, this season also seems to serve as a transition in some cases - some wind up with more to do, while some of the characters that were interesting in the first round are suddenly not given much to do. The biggest example of the former is likely Sawyer, who turns into a great antihero and gets what are, by far, the show's best lines. Rose (L. Scott Caldwell), who was more of a supporting player in the first season, is rejoined with her husband Bernard (Sam Anderson), who was in the tail section. An episode that largely focused on their backstory got a mixed reception from fans, but I consider it one of the best of the season, as the two actors provided touching, emotional performances and the story worked in some tidbits about the overall mythology. The struggle between Locke and Jack - one a believer in faith, the other in science - also provides a strong core for the season.
On the other hand, Charlie (Dominic Monaghan)'s battle with addiction was given too much of a focus this season and the character quickly became irritating. It's great that the show's characters are all flawed in some way or another, but Charlie crossed the line this season and became too much of a screw-up. Sayid (Naveen Andrews) was one of the more interesting characters of the first season, but really was given suprisingly little to do this time around. Michael (Harrold Perrineau), devastated by his son being taken at the end of season 1, runs off and is gone for long periods.
Despite a first half that has some uneven moments, "Lost" still remains a captivating series due to the characters, the stories and the atmosphere. "Lost" isn't always consistent, but even in lesser episodes, it's still easy to find something memorable. Even the show's quiestest moments - and there are those moments when the characters simply sit on the beach, trying to take comfort in each other and soaking up the fact that they've made it through another day - are often some of the most moving. Once the second half of the season gets into full swing, the show starts to delve further into the overall mythology and start answering a few - if certainly not all - of the questions about the island. The second season of "Lost" may have some flaws, but it's still a solid season in a lot of ways and plays better on home video.
"Lost" is another instance where watching the show on home video is more of a pleasure than watching it on TV. Like "24" and several other shows, not having commericials is really quite wonderful, allowing the episodes to flow without their rhythm being broken up every several minutes. The second season, which was broken up by breaks/repeats, is especially helped by the ability to watch the episodes as a whole.
It definitely allows one to savor the show's many positives, including the carefully structured details of the plots, as the show's reveals and differing perspectives on various subplots somehow manage to seem organic and not mechanical. The flashbacks that are scattered throughout the episodes, which clue us in to some of the survivor's lives pre-island, are also expertly done, and edited into the island story in a way that isn't too jarring.
The performances are just about perfect, as the show's creators have brought together a great ensemble cast that has wonderful chemistry with each other. Fox and O'Quinn are certainly the highlights, but there isn't a wrong note within the rest of the cast. The cinematography is also perfect, capturing the beauty of the Hawaiian settings (as well as the different locations/sets for the flashbacks) and yet also giving them a certain eerie quality. Composer Michael Giacchino's magnficient score compliments the mood of the scene perfectly, whether emotional or chilling.
"Lost" gets a total recommendation from me, and I will recommend this Blu-Ray set even to those who didn't tune into the show so far.
25. 2- 1 21 Sep 05 Man of Science, Man of Faith
26. 2- 2 28 Sep 05 Adrift
27. 2- 3 5 Oct 05 Orientation
28. 2- 4 12 Oct 05 Everybody Hates Hugo
29. 2- 5 19 Oct 05 ...And Found
30. 2- 6 9 Nov 05 Abandoned
31. 2- 7 16 Nov 05 The Other 48 Days
32. 2- 8 23 Nov 05 Collision (a.k.a. Old Habits)
33. 2- 9 30 Nov 05 What Kate Did
34. 2-10 11 Jan 06 The 23rd Psalm
35. 2-11 18 Jan 06 The Hunting Party
36. 2-12 25 Jan 06 Fire + Water
37. 2-13 8 Feb 06 The Long Con
38. 2-14 15 Feb 06 One of Them
39. 2-15 1 Mar 06 Maternity Leave
40. 2-16 22 Mar 06 The Whole Truth
41. 2-17 29 Mar 06 Lockdown
42. 2-18 5 Apr 06 Dave
43. 2-19 12 Apr 06 S.O.S.
44. 2-20 3 May 06 Two for the Road
45. 2-21 10 May 06 ?
46. 2-22 17 May 06 Three Minutes
47. 2-23 24 May 06 Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1
48. 2-24 24 May 06 Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2
VIDEO: "Lost" is presented by Disney Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 (1080p/AVC) and the results are absolutely stellar. The gorgeous cinematography of the series looks absolutely beautiful on Blu-Ray, with the show appearing remarkably crisp, detailed and smooth (fine details, such as the grass and trees of the island, are presented with great clarity) throughout the episodes. There were some small touches/details that I had never noticed in earlier viewings of the show that stood out on the Blu-Ray edition. There's also nice depth to the image during the majority of scenes, too.
As for flaws, there really aren't any of note - no edge enhancement or pixelation was seen. Some fine grain is seen - likely an intentional element of the cinematography - but is really not very noticeable and certainly not a distraction in any way. Colors have more depth and warmth than the DVD editions, as well. Black level remained strong, while flesh tones looked spot-on. Overall, this was certainly a significant upgrade over the DVD edition.
SOUND: The show is presented with a PCM 5.1 soundtrack. The show's sound design is excellent, with the surrounds coming into play throughout to deliver distinct environmental sounds and sound effects, as well as some reinforcement of the score. Audio quality is improved over the Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation of the DVD, with increased clarity and a more open, transparent feel to the show's audio.
EXTRAS: The extras are presented in SD.
Commentaries are included on a bunch of episodes: Executive producers Damon Lindelof, Carleton Cuse, Bryan Burk and Jack Bender on "Man of Science, Man of Faith"; Director Paul Edwards, Director of Photography Michael Bonvillain, and co-star Evangeline Lilly on "What Kate Did"; Executive producers Damon Lindelof, Carleton Cuse and Bryan Burk on "The 23rd Psalm"; Actors Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim and writers Elizabeth Sarnoff and Christina M. Kim for "The Whole Truth" and finally, director Jack Bender joins Jorge Garcia and Cynthia Watros for "Dave".
Once again, the commentaries are enjoyable and discuss a nice array of different topics, such as working with the actors, weather or other various production difficulties, trying to get scenes right, schedule, story/character issues and more. Some of the commentaries are a little better than others - for example, the three watching "Dave" admit on a few occasions that they've gotten caught up in watching the show again.
The seventh disc offers the remainder of the supplements, starting with "Fire and Water: Anatomy of an Episode", a 30-minute documentary that offers a look at the production of an episode from start-to-finish. The piece offers some good interviews, interesting footage and overall, is a fine look at what it takes to bring one episode to the screen. "Lost on Location" is essentially a short "making of" (a few minutes each) for 10 episodes.) "The World According to Sawyer" is a short featurette that offers some of the character's most memorable one-liners.
The second "phase" of the seventh disc starts off by offering a few additional flashbacks that were deleted. Two involve Shannon, one involves Locke - but neither are particularly necessary and were rightly deleted. 11 deleted scenes do boast some interesting moments at times, but largely seem unnecessary. Rounding out the section are a so-so gag reel, sneak previews for other titles from the studio and a trippy UK promo directed by David LaChapelle.
"Secrets from the Hatch" and "Mysteries, Theories and Conspiracies" are two featurettes found in the third and final section. They sound as if they're going to offer a lot, but they really are more about what people think could be going on than offering any actual secrets. Rounding out the disc is the interactive "Lost Connections". The Blu-Ray also offer's Disney's "SeasonPlay" feature (which allows one to know where they left off when they come back to the set) and is D-Box enabled.
Final Thoughts: While the second season of "Lost" is a bit uneven at first before it finally starts going strong, the series remains one of the best on TV and season 2 is still very worthwhile viewing. The Blu-Ray set carries over the same extras, but provides absolutely stellar audio/video quality. Recommended.