Lost's fourth season was the first to air after its producers announced an end date to the series, making the season's episodes roughly the first 13 of the remaining 48 episodes. Coinciding with the series' transition from signature flashbacks to head-spinning flash-forwards, the announcement signaled a new energy and focus borne out in each successive episode of the series. Particularly in the strike-shortened fourth season, the writers propelled their plot aggressively, moving with purpose through meticulously outlined stories toward a finale that fans can now trust has been determined by the series' creators.
Lost remains an unique show in the current television landscape and, for that matter, in television history. We've seen weird before (Twin Peaks, The Prisoner), and we've seen epic (usually in the form of mini-series), but Lost is a weird epic, a sprawling and yet accessible mythology that allows both regular viewers and obsessive fans to enjoy the story at their own levels of commitment. Taking full advantage of its Hawaii location (cleverly transformed into various global sites as the plot demands), with writing seemingly (though not actually) unfettered by budgetary concerns, Lost has eye appeal that matches what blockbuster movies can provide.
The series has always offered compelling mysteries, asking new questions with each answer it provides. With the hatch pretty much history, Season Four revolves around the arrival of a freighter presumed to offer rescue, and the "freighter folk" who come with it, including Rebecca Mader, Ken Leung, Jeff Fahey and Jeremy Davies. The collection of character actors add plenty to an already impressive ensemble, and they integrate well into the developing mysteries: what's happening to Desmond when he slips out of time (explored in the season's arguable high point, "The Constant")? Who is the double agent among the freighter folk? And just who is in the coffin seen at the end of Season Three? These and other questions are answered by Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof and their crack writing staff in episodes that sport some of the best direction, editing, scoring, and acting on TV today.
Long-absent characters return to strong effect in Season Four, and characters old and new bite the dust (or at least nibble at it) before it's over. Knowing what's expected of them, the writers steer the shortened season to a slam-bang finale that sets up more intriguing challenges for the characters. The season finale culminates in extra doses of action, romance, and intrigue, with dark themes leavened by heart and humor. Long-absent characters return to strong effect in Season Four, and characters old and new bite the dust (or at least nibble at it) before it's over. It all works like gangbusters in keeping viewers on the line as the series hurtles to its set end date.
Happily, Disney has its hands on Lost, one of the most popular TV series making its way to home video. Disney treats the series right--it looks fantastic, with the series' gorgeous locations and signature vibrant color looking their very best in these high-def transfers. There's a bit of edge enhancement, but it's hardly noticeable as the detail and color seem to leap off the screen. Lost may also have the most thrilling soundtrack of any current television series, which makes the uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack the best way to enjoy the creepy ambient effects and feature-quality Michael Giacchino score.
Season Play is a very cool and helpful feature that remembers for the viewer where he or she left off in watching the season. Pop any disc in the player, select Season Play, and the disc will either automatically resume play where you left off or tell you which disc you need to put in to resume your viewing exactly where you left off, to the second.
"Lost in 8:15" (8:12, HD), a lightning-fast recap of Seasons One through Three; the speed of it becomes winkingly self-aware, pointing out both the abusrdity of the show and of critics who say the plot develops too slowly. Compared to what, Grey's Anatomy? I mean, just look at how much plot this show crammed into three seasons! Some people...
Evangeline Lilly and Jorge Garcia provide a rollicking audio commentary on "The Beginning of the End." The lively "The Constant" commentary with editor Mark Goldman, co-creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof, and executive producer Carlton Cuse deals with the unique nature of the episode and its editing, how Star Trek: The Next Generation served as a touchstone, the casting of "lost" actor Jeff Fahey, Jeremy Davies' method acting, "de-balling" a mouse, the concept of "paradox" within time travel tales,
The "Ji Yeon" commentary with director Stephen Semel, Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim is a friendly discussion about the shooting of the episode, how editor Semel came to direct, the nature of shooting on the freighter, which scenes had to be reshot when footage was lost, the tradition of starting on a character's eye, and the challenges and nuances in the use of Korean and Korean dialect.
Cuse and Lindelof deliver the first-ever commentary on a Lost finale, in this case "There's No Place Like Home, Part 2." The duo is feeling punchy, but the writer-producers' giddiness only makes their commentary more entertaining. They discuss the storyline, the production, how much C4 it takes to blow up a freighter, and the all-important "frozen donkey wheel." "Never again an 82-minute commentary," Cuse cracks, but I'm sure fans would love it.
"Lost on Location" (41:54 with "Play All" option in HD) is a series of behind-the-scenes segments with an emphasis on character and stunt work, with comments by Cuse, Lindelof, Garcia, Rebecca Mader, Henry Ian Cusick, Elizabeth Mitchell, Harold Perrineau, M.C. Gainey, Marsha Thomason, Cynthia Watros, Josh Holloway, Emilie de Ravin, Tania Raymonde, Marc Vann, Kevin Durand, Anthony Azizi, executive producer/director Jack Bender, co-executive producer/director Stephen Williams, and others on the crew.
"The Island Backlot: Lost in Hawaii" (17:53, HD) details how Hawaii is made to double not only for the island but many global locations (a similar feature graces the Alias DVDs). Cuse, Lindelof, Bender, Matthew Fox, Holloway, Mitchell, Mader, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Garcia, Cusick, Michael Emerson, Naveen Andrews, co-executive producer Jean Higgins, visual effects supervisor Mitch Suskin, art director Tim Beach, and DP John Bartley, among others, participate.
"The Right to Bear Arms" (11:15, HD) gets into the messy business of guns on the show, and keeping track of them. Garcia, Lilly, Williams, Holloway, Bender, Lindelof, Cuse, Fox, Mader, Mitchell, Yunjin Kim, script coordinator Gregg Nations, co-executive producer Edward Kitsis, and prop master Rob Kyker discuss the many facets of Lost's firearms, inlcuding "the inappropriate cock." It's a great featurette in that it illuminates an aspect of the show that's prominent and yet one about which we know too litle.
"Soundtrack of Survival: Composing for Character, Conflict, and the Crash" (26:21, HD) begins with Cuse introducing the Honolulu Pops symphony concert premiere of Lost music, followed by snippets of the concert interspersed with an interview with composer Michael Giacchino; also interviewed: executive producer J.J. Abrams, Lindelof, co-producer Samantha Thomas, Williams, executive producer Bryan Burk, de Ravin, Emerson, Garcia, Mitchell, Lilly, Yunjin Kim, and Daniel Dae Kim. We also get to hear a brief excerpt of original material written by Lost staffers for Terry O'Quinn to perform as part of the concert (letters in a bottle). The sub-menu "More From the Symphony" (16:07 with "Play All" option) offers three more clips, one being the complete letter recitations by O'Quinn.
"Lost Bloopers" (3:22, HD) are always fun, and also included are nine must-see "Deleted Scenes" (9:11 with "Play All" in HD).
Course of the Future: The Definitive, Interactive Flash Forwards is a very cool addition for die-hard fans and, conversely, those who could use a little help deciphering the plot. Correctly assembling a group of flash forward clips in chronological order turns the frozen donkey wheel and unlocks a special menu. The menu allows one to play the flash forwards in chronological order, either by themselves or with pop-up script excerpts and story direction from the Lost writers (52:49 in HD). One can also "Follow a Character": Jack, Kate, Aaron, Hurley, Sun, Sayid, or Ben.
"The Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy of Lies" (21:16, HD) is an impressive faux documentary, done in the 9-11 conspiracy style, debunking the Oceanic Six's story.
"The Freighter Folk" (12:40, HD) profiles the latest additions to the cast of characters, with comments by Cuse, Kitsis, Lindelof, co-executive producer Adam Horowitz, Mitchell, Williams, Bender, Lilly, Holloway, Emerson, Mader, Jeremy Davies, Jeff Fahey, Durand, Vann, L. Scott Caldwell, Sam Anderson, Daniel Dae Kim, Ken Leung, and supervising producer Elizabeth Sarnoff.
"Offshore Shoot" (7:50, HD) interviews a wide cross-section of the cast and crew, and reminds us of the necessity of puke buckets.
"Lost: Missing Pieces (Mobisodes)" (31:22 with "Play All" option, in HD), thirteen in all, amount to nifty short stories that fit into gaps in the televised storyline: some are ominous, some humorous.
What a terrific assemblage of bonus features we have here, adding value to a set that could probably sell itself. Now's a good time to catch up if you're behind, in anticipation of the rapidly approaching Season Five.
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer