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".
"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 the second season started off well and then lagged in the middle, the third season of the series started off with a slower block of episodes and then made an abrupt change, as once the first third of the season ended, the show improves considerably. The third season of the series opens where the second season closed, with Kate, Jack, Sawyer and Hurley (although Hurley was released) captured by the Others. Taken prisoner, the first several episodes of the season spend a good deal of time following their struggles while under the eye of the Others, including Jack having to make a choice to perform a surgery on high-ranking Other, Ben (Michael Emerson) that could save his life - or save Jack's friends - or both.
Once the series moved on from the three being imprisoned, the series was free to further explore who are the Others, and building other elements of the series in unexpected ways. Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick), who had been gone for most of the second season before returning for the finale, became one of the most interesting elements of the third season, starting with "Flashes Before Your Eyes", one of the show's finest hours, where we learn what happened to Desmond after he turned the key at the end of the second season and the hatch imploded. A particularly heartbreaking episode, "Flashes" has Desmond reliving an important day with his love, Penny (Sonya Walger). Cusick's performance is utterly magnificent (he deserves an Emmy for it, and so do the writers), and a sequence where one character unexpectedly offers Desmond the consequences of veering from his path is particularly haunting. The sequence ends with Desmond revealing his newfound ability, and offering up apologetic words to another islander, who he knows he cannot save.
The other interesting elements of the third season are Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Locke (Terry O'Quinn), who has always been one of the most compelling characters of the series. In the third season, Locke gradually breaks away from the group, which leads to some surprising actions - including one that puts him against Jack - and makes one wonder where his story will lead in the fourth season of the series. We also find out more about Locke's past, especially in "The Man From Talahassee". Juliet, a higher ranking Other, helps Jack and the others, but her motives remain in question throughout much of the season. The core characters really do develop further this seasons (some a little more than others, but all to some degree.) Of course, there is much more throughout the season, such as the appearance of the mysterious Jacob and the 2-part finale, which essentially changes the entire show going forward.
The fourth season of "Lost" starts to open out the series, giving hints of a grander, more epic adventure to come. The fourth season starts with "The Beginning of the End", a fitting title, given the fact that the creators of the series have announced their intentions to end the show with the sixth season. The prior season ended with Jack managing to make a call, despite the warnings of Locke and Ben. The call connected to a freighter somewhere off the island, and those who answered the call said they would soon arrive.
When the first members of the team - pilot Frank (Jeff Fahey), Miles (Ken Leung), a ghost hunter; Daniel (Jeremy Davies), a physicist; and Charlotte (Rebecca Mader), an anthropologist - Jack and Kate quickly grow suspicious, as the group seems clearly interested in something else besides a rescue of the islanders. Locke separates himself from the group, taking other members of the castaways - such as Hurley - along with him. Some - such as Sawyer - debate whether or not to leave the island, given that they aren't sure what's waiting for them at home is any better. While the struggle to find out what the newcomers are looking for is difficult, the castaways have greater foes awaiting on the freighter - as well as a character from their past.
Meanwhile, flash-forwards throughout the episodes show the few who managed to get off the island - a group dubbed the "Oceanic 6" - and the troubled lives they now lead. One of the most interesting elements of the season is Ben, as the character has gone from an enigmatic figure to becoming a far more mysterious figure with greater power and reach (as well as a connection to the island's smoke monster) than the castaways thought he was capable of.
While Desmond isn't given as much to do this season, the character once again is the focus of the season's best episode - like season 3's "Flashes Before Your Eyes", season 4's "The Constant" offers a rich, complex story and contains some powerful and emotional moments - telling more details about the story would spoil it. Other highlights of this season include: "The Beginning of the End" (the survivors debate the intentions of those supposedly coming to rescue them), "Cabin Fever" (Locke looks for Jacob's cabin) and the finale, "There's No Place Like Home".
Despite a WGA strike that resulted in a limited run for the season, the show still offered a marvelously - and consistently - entertaining season. The final moments of the season both wrap up a question started in season three and provide a fascinating hint as to the direction of the fifth season, which starts 1/21/09.
"Lost" is another instance where watching the show on DVD 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. 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 performances are just about perfect, as the show's creators have brought together a great ensemble cast that has wonderful chemistry with each other. O'Quinn is certainly the highlight from the original cast, but there isn't a wrong note within the rest of the cast. Cusick, Emerson and Mitchell also provide exceptional supporting performances, as well - it's absolutely ridiculous that Emerson didn't win the Emmy awards he's been nominated for. Davies, Leung and Mader also fit into the series superbly - all three are superbly cast and create characters who all play their cards close - although in different ways, from the nervous Davies to the sarcastic Leung to Mader's chilly exterior.
The cinematography is also marvelous, 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.
72. 4- 1 401 31 Jan 08 The Beginning of the End
73. 4- 2 402 7 Feb 08 Confirmed Dead
74. 4- 3 403 14 Feb 08 The Economist
75. 4- 4 404 21 Feb 08 Eggtown
76. 4- 5 405 28 Feb 08 The Constant
77. 4- 6 406 6 Mar 08 The Other Woman
78. 4- 7 407 13 Mar 08 Ji Yeon
79. 4- 8 408 20 Mar 08 Meet Kevin Johnson
80. 4- 9 409 24 Apr 08 The Shape of Things to Come
81. 4-10 410 1 May 08 Something Nice Back Home
82. 4-11 411 8 May 08 Cabin Fever
83. 4-12 412 15 May 08 There's No Place Like Home (1)
84. 4-13 413 29 May 08 There's No Place Like Home (2)
VIDEO/AUDIO: "Lost" is presented by Buena Vista in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is really quite marvelous, as the image remained impressively rich and detailed throughout - in my opinion, an improvement over regular broadcast quality. The presentation did occasionally show a little bit of slight shimmer, but no pixelation, edge enhancement or other concerns presented themselves. Colors were absolutely stunning, with perfect saturation and no smearing. Black level remained deep and strong, while flesh tones looked accurate and natural.
The show is presented by Buena Vista in Dolby Digital 5.1. The sound mix of the episodes is quite stellar, 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 first-rate, with very crisp, clear dialogue, effects and music.
I also must note that the set comes in one of those cases where the discs are overlapping one another, which frequently seems to result in loose discs. So, after you've bought your set, be sure to inspect the discs inside. The menus are terrific, with subtle, show-themed backgrounds.
EXTRAS: Actor Evangeline Lilly and Actor Jorge Garcia offer commentary for "The Beginning of the End; "The Constant" offers commentary from Editor Mark Goldman, Co-Creator/Executive Producer Damon Lindelof, and Executive Producer Carlton Cuse, "Ji Yeon" offers commentary from Director Stephen Semel, Actor Daniel Dae Kim and Actor Yunjin Kim and "There's No Place Like Home" (Part 2) offers commentary from by Co-Creator/Executive Producer Damon Lindelof, and Executive Producer Carlton Cuse.
The fifth disc in the set offers a series of bonus features, starting with "Lost: On Location". This documentary - which is split up into smaller featurettes that look at an episode - follows cast and crew as they film a few major scenes from the episode. "The Island Backlot: Lost in Hawaii" is an 18-minute featurette along the same lines: we hear more about the experience of the cast and crew producing the show in Hawaii (amazingly, only a few scenes have been filmed off the island.) "The Right to Bear Arms" is a look at the show's guns. "Soundtrack for Survival" is an interesting look at composing the show's score. Finally, we get bloopers, a couple of easter eggs and 9 deleted scenes. While the deleted scenes are generally very minor, there are some very interesting tidbits found within.
Disc 6 of the set offers "Course of the Future", which offers an interview featurette about the flash-forwards of this season, as well as the flash forwards themselves - all together. "Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy of Lies" is a mock conspiracy documentary that tries to unravel the story of the Oceanic Six survivors. "The Freighter Folk" takes a look at the casting of the group from the freighter, as well as their experiences coming aboard the show and how their characters were set up and what their role in the overall story is (there are also a couple very, very vague hints to the future in this featurette, as well.) "Off-Shore Shoot" is a look at the production filming on a freighter ship used for supply runs that was rented for filming. The menus on disc 6 do change.
Final Thoughts "Lost"'s fourth season is a haunting, emotional and remarkably tense set of episodes that does a terrific job setting up the beginning of the show's final, epic push. The DVD set provides excellent audio/video quality, as well as a very nice set of supplemental features. Highly recommended.