Until a week ago, I had never seen more than thirty seconds of Lost. There’s a good reason for this: I don’t watch TV. That’s not because I’m a snob, it’s because I always have a pile of movies to watch. And as that is the case, making time to watch television has always been a luxury I’ve denied myself. So, with that in mind there’s going to be two types of people reading this. People like me who never watched the show, and those who are religious about it, or got turned off at some point. I will gear the first part of the review for those who haven’t seen it and the second part for those who have. It’s all after the jump:
For the latecomers, here’s the premise (as if you probably don’t know that): There was a plane crash and its survivors are on a mysterious island. How mysterious? There’s monsters in the jungle, including a polar bear. The survivors are led by Jack (Mathew Fox), a doctor who was on his way home to bury his father. His female companion is Kate (Evangeline Lily), who – it turns out – was on her way home to go to jail (for it appears two different criminal acts). Jack’s opposite is Sawyer (Josh Holloway) a pretty boy who’s the first to play scavenger and king of the loot. Back home he was a con man. There’s the heroin addicted musician Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), who takes a liking to the pregnant Claire (Emile de Ravin), and the ex-Iraqi soldier Sayid (Naveen Andrews), who’s take charge but also haunted. There’s Michael (Harold Perrineau) and his son Walt (Malcom David Kelly), who have a rocky relationship. And then there’s Boone (Ian Somerhalder) and his sister in law Shannon (Maggie Grace). Oh and the fat guy Hurley (Jorge Garcia), and the mysterious survivalist Locke (Terry O’Quinn), and the Korean couple (Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim, no relation).
In the first season, they all try and make a go at being on the island, but rescue stops being as much of a concern as staying safe. There’s something in the jungle and no one knows what it is, and in the pilot it rips the plane’s pilot (ahem) right out of the cockpit. Eventually, the group moves to a cave location, but drama is heightened when a small plane is found, and so is a shaft marked quarantine. What’s in there is revealed in season two as Lost begins to refit itself and its game plan. There we are introduced to a second set of survivors (including Michelle Rodriguez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Cynthia Watros) who join the rest of the crew. In the hatch they find a man who’s been pressing a button every 108 minutes to keep everyone alive. And by everyone, he means the world. But in the second season, this is explored, as is the group of “others” who also live on the island and seem to have mysterious abilities and a fetish for children. None of this is ever properly explained, though they get close to revealing the 108 schema.
If there’s a great fault with the show, is that it relies on flashback so much. Most episodes give you the character’s backstory through it, and so almost every episode involves showing you shit that happened before. It’s a good way of not moving the ball forward and that works for television, and every once in a while it’s good flashback, but there’s a metric ton of it. So get ready for that. The other thing is that the show rarely advances the ball in front of you. For much of the second season, the actual creepy elements of the island that set up the show are never explored, except once in a scene that goes nowhere. It almost makes you feel the show has forgotten that you cared about something, and sometimes you stop thinking about it, and then it comes back. But I can’t watch a show like this and expect it to add up. I guess there’s a season left, so maybe it will all come together in the end, but I have my doubts. Often with shows like this, the guessing is the best part.
What makes the show work, though, is that the cast is one of the best assembled for a network TV drama. Everyone is on top of their game, and though I have my reservations about Josh Holloway (if only because he looks like he belongs on a soap opera), I can’t fault him for anything except looking a little too pretty for being on an island. But the show has made stars of many of its people, and it’s easy to see why. Much like the first season or two of ER, this is that kind of show. And you get a great variety of performers, all of whom are bringing it. And though little ground gets covered in terms of the mystery, what makes the show work is its combination of sci-fi thriller and the show Survivor. It’s fun to watch allegiances shift, and priorities and attractions change, and how the group modulates to whatever dramas have beset them.
When people talk about this being great, or at least my friends, it’s always with the caveat that it’s great network television. I don’t think you can compare it to what HBO does at its best, or ever what some of the satellite networks like FX or AMC are doing these days. And there is an undeniable element of the show being a puzzle box that is kind of shallow on the inside, but it works.
Now on to the true believers. SPOILERS Having gone through it, I was shocked that some of you hated Michelle Rodriguez as much as you did. Yeah, she’s kind of a bitch, but when she’s gets removed from the show, I felt bad for her. But it seems to fit with the show’s slasher vibe. The only people on this show who can successfully fuck it seems are married people. Though it’s a first couple episode beat, one of the things that hooked me in was the reveal of Locke’s disability. People who’ve watched the show have told me that some of my concerns will disappear about how plot things go away, but seriously, the island was all “Booga-booga” and then it’s not really, now it’s all the others. Actually the show has a couple of clichés, if someone expresses a sentiment of great joy, invariably their dream will be crushed either moments later, or later in the episode. “I love you” is a death sentence, it seems. Start of Season two, I never wanted to hear the words “Walt” again. Dear lord. But I loved the way that the hatch and the vault changed the narrative and the concerns. END SPOILERS
For those looking to upgrade, it seems that there’s not much all the new here. All episodes are in prefect widescreen (1.78:1) transfers in 5.1 DTS HD audio. The surrounds even kick in here and there, which is sweet. On the first disc the pilot comes with a commentary by creators J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, and Damon Lindelof, and “Walkabout” comes with commentary by Exec Producer Jack Bender, co-exec. Producer David Fury and Terry O’Quinn. Disc two offers a commentary on “The Moth” with Lindelof, Burk and Dominic Monaghan. Disc three offers no commentary, but disc four offers commentary on “Hearts and Minds” with exec. Producer Carlton Cuse, Supervising producer Javier Grillo Marxuach, Maggie Grace and Ian Somerhalder. Discs five and six have no bonus material, but disc seven offers the mother lode. “Departure” (106 min.) talks about how the film came to pass, and gets interviews from the key cast and crew, and also offers audition footage. “Tales from the Island” (92 min.) offers a more goofy background story, but also a more hands on perspective of some of the episodes, a Jimmy Kimmell interview with the cast, and Monaghan’s band playing, and interviews about it. “Lost Revealed” offers a flashback (5 min.), and deleted scenes (17 min.) and a blooper reel (4 min.). There’s a piece from the museum of TV and Radio (11 min.) with the cast and crew, and then there’s a piece on the flashbacks (7 min.).
As for season two, same deal, great fucking transfers in widescreen (1.78:1) and in 5.1 DTS HD. Disc one offers a commentary on “Man of Science, Man of Faith” with Lindeof, Cuse, Burk and executive producer Jack Bender. Disc two offers nothing special, but disc three offers commentary on “What Kate Did” by director Paul Edwards, DP Michael Bonvillain and Lily, and commentary on “The 23rd Pslam by Lindelof, Cuse and Burk. Disc four offers commentary on “The Whole Truth” with Yujin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim, and writers Elizabeth Sarnoff and Christina M. Kim (whole lotta Kim). Disc five offers commentary on “Dave” with director Jack Bender, and stars Jorge Garcia and Cynthia Watros. Disc six is free of supplemental material, but disc seven offers supplements ahoy-hoy. The sups are broken up in to three phases. The First “Observation” offers an “anatomy of an episode” (32 min.) that walks you through pre-shooting and post, an “on location section (62 min.) which looks to be on line supplemental material, as it takes you through the show’s season. Rounding out Phase 1 is “The World According to Saywer” ((5 min.), which gets into the show’s anti-hero. Phase 2 offers three flashbacks (4 min.), nineteen deleted scenes (23 min.), bloopers (4 min.), and a Channel 4 UK promo (1 min.). Phase 3 offers “Lost Connections” which is a gallery offering connections between the characters. “Mysteries, Theories and connections” (10 min.) talks about how they don’t want to give anything away. And “Secrets from the Hatch” (16 min.) talks about the effects around the hatch from S2. And that’s everything but Easter Eggs.