What is it about? It's just about the greatest show on TV, but I'll get into that later. As for plot, there's a lot here to consider but here's the basic gist. Oceanic Air flight 814, en route from Sydney to Los Angeles, loses its way and is brutally torn in half in the sky, crash-landing the surviving passengers on a mysterious island that may or may not contain a monster. As we learn more about the central core of the survivors and the secrets they harbor, we also learn more about the island's secrets. For starters, our survivors aren't the only ones on this island.
Yes, yes, [from the top of the tallest mountain] YES!! This isn't just a great TV show, it might just be the most fun I've ever had watching TV. I can think of only a handful of shows - "The Simpsons," "Seinfeld," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "The Larry Sanders Show" - that have engaged me like "Lost" has and this show has only been on the air for one season. While the show's inherent mystery and suspense is a good part of its success, the character development can't be ignored. Normal ensemble TV shows can fall victim to SPEED Syndrome; so named for the movie that featured every personality stereotype possible on that out-of-control bus. Here we have well-rounded characters whose pasts are just as fascinating as their futures. Where else on network television would you find two major characters who would speak almost solely in Korean? Perhaps I'm a "Lost" fanatic but I think you'd be hard-pressed to buy this set, start with the pilot (no pun intended) episode and not get sucked in. Despite all the hype, it really is that good.
Audio commentaries are provided for four episodes in the season: two on Disc 1 ("Pilot 1 & 2" and "Walkabout"), one on Disc Two ("The Moth") and one on Disc Four ("Hearts and Minds"). While I would've LOVED commentary during the season finale, I assume it wrapped too late to provide commentary (as they're talking they allude to the fact that the finale hasn't aired on TV yet). The "Pilot" episodes provide the most engaging commentary with JJ Abrams, co-creator Damon Lindelof and producer Bryan Burk taking us through both parts and stopping the episode every so often to branch off to some relevant behind-the-scenes footage. This is nice because they can be telling us an anecdote and immediately switch to some footage of exactly what they're talking about. There is a brief pause as the DVD switches footage I wish wasn't there. The commentary tends to be a bit over-flattering at times (everyone is either a "genius" or "brilliant") but Lindelof injects a good bit of humor poking fun at that aspect at times. They also tease incessantly at telling us secrets like revealing the monster is and so forth. There are some interesting nuggets to ponder here like the fact that Matthew Fox's tattoo's will play a critical part in upcoming episodes and the sounds of the monster were toned done originally because they didn't want to give too much away. Actors Terry O'Quinn, Dominic Monaghan, Ian Somerhalder and Maggie Grace also pop up to talk on their respective episodes.
Disc One also features a DVD-ROM feature,
The extra features on Disc 7 are broken down into three major categories: "Departure," "Tales from the Island," and "Lost Revealed." I'll go through each one in order and all the items underneath those headings.
The first featurette is "The Genesis of Lost," where we see and hear exactly how a concept like "CASTAWAY: The Series" (one of the ways it was initially pitched) turns into a show like "Lost." The idea started with a guy named Lloyd Braun; no, not the computer salesman from "Seinfeld" but the former head of ABC. He had the vision for a stranded-on-an-island TV show but didn't know where to go with it. "Genesis" is an engrossing look at how a concept seemingly doomed for failure was rescued by JJ Abrams and co-creator Damon Lindelof, who he had never met before. I thought it was fascinating to hear that "the hatch" we're now so curious about was one of the first things Abrams had in mind for the plot and that once they had the basic concept down, they mapped the series out five or six seasons ahead, including how it would all end.
Next up is "Designing a Disaster," highlighting how the production staff set about to purchase an actual commercial jet, dismantle it, ship it to Hawaii and reassemble it for the wreckage on the island. This was all done in a much shorter timeframe than most pilots yet was about five times more complicated than most pilots. As I watched, I thought how amazing it was that before this show was even picked up by the network, they had the presence of mind to film all the little things like purchasing and shipping the airplane.
Up next is "Before They Were Lost" - a look at the cast assembled for the pilot. Audition tapes for all the major actors in the cast are included, expect for Terry O'Quinn (Locke) who JJ Abrams knew from his time on "Alias." Some of the actors I thought did a great job in their tapes and others?... Not so much. But you can't deny that Abrams and his casting crew saw that certain something in each of them and picked exactly the right person (even creating characters for actors they felt were "right"). Lots of fun behind-the-scenes info here including a few people who almost didn't make it into the show, like Canadian Evangeline Lilly who got her work visa the day before shooting was scheduled to begin. Also just really bizarre to see Naveen Andrews (Sayid) talking witha British accent.
Next up is "Welcome to Oahu: The Making of the Pilot," which pretty much is exactly what it describes; the trials and tribulations of shooting a $2 million pilot in Hawaii on a shortened schedule. This is perhaps the best of the features so far as those of us familiar with the pilot episode learn exactly what went into putting those two hours together. For example, how do you film a scene that features a polar bear attacking your actors when you're on location in Hawaii? Practical effects or CGI? Or how they filmed those riveting crash sequences aboard the airplane. (They weren't even on a gimbal! It was just actors shifting in unison and JJ Abrams shaking the film magazine as they shot...) In between all the technical stuff you get to see the cast and crew meet and eventually bond during some tough conditions. Really great, informative and comprehensive stuff here.
One of the few "fluffy" items included here is "The Art of Matthew Fox," which is made up of a number of still photographs taken by Fox during the filming of the pilot with his commentary running over the slideshow. It's nice and all but I didn't particularly find the photos all that captivating but that was just me.
The final "Departure" feature is "Lost@Comicon," which goes into brief detail about the buzz of the film at the 2004 Con, despite the fact the pilot hadn't even aired yet. Knowing what the fans at the Con are like and how savvy they are, it wasn't altogether surprising to me, but the cast and crew were definitely shocked to see such a warm reception.
"Tales from the Island"
This particular section focuses on events during production of the film's episodes. While it might look slim at only three sub-headings - "'Lost': On Location," "On Set With Jimmy Kimmel" and "Backstage With Driveshaft" - but the first "On Location" has eight featurettes, which are quite in-depth.
"'Lost': On Location" goes behind-the-scenes of eight episodes of the show taking a look at some of the issues that came about during filming. If you ever wanted to know how difficult it was to get a boar to chase a human, this is your place to go. These I found especially cool to watch because they were episode specific whereas most of the information up until this point was either general "Lost" goods or based on the pilot. We get to see a less-creepy off-camera Ethan (William Mapother) choreographing his fight scenes and how Ian Somerholder and Maggie Grace prepped for their big quasi-incestual make-out scene. Good stuff here
On Set With Jimmy Kimmel" is exactly what the title says. As "Jimmy Kimmel Live" is an ABC show much like "Lost" is, the late night host was sent to the Hawaii set to hang with the cast and infuse his trademark silliness. Funny, but nothing particularly informative and I had seen this originally on TV so it wasn't exactly something I had to sit through again. But it's worth watching at least once.
Backstage With Driveshaft" takes a look at how they created the band that made Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) semi-famous. I wasn't sure what to expect from this but it was actually pretty funny examining how they came up with the "You All Everybody" song that propelled the band to one-hit wonder status. I won't give away exactly where it came from but it was an inside joke among the creators that originated with an old episode of "Donahue." Yes, Phil Donahue. You also find out some more lyrics to the song, which I had never picked up on before and are rather humorous. A nice little surprise here.
Under this particular heading we get material that was cut from the finished episodes plus another featurette that seems oddly out of place (I'll get to that later). The first heading is "The Lost Flashbacks" and highlight two cut flashbacks from the season finale dealing with Sayid and Claire. Sayid's is rather sweet but innocuous but I thought Claire's was interesting simply because it highlights the return of the pilot (who promises a safe trip).
Usually the "Deleted Scenes" on a DVD are a complete waste but here, there's actually some real meat that had to be cut for time reasons. My favorite was a real gem between Shannon and Charlie. He's obviously a bit smitten with her and in trying to spark conversation and impress her, he starts singing "You All Everybody." His plan backfires in a funny and heartbreaking way.
I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for "Bloopers." No exception here. My only complaint is that here they're inexplicably set to music. Would've preferred them to just have been presented as they were.
The last item under this heading is "Live From the Museum of Television & Radio," a few minutes of tape from an event earlier this year. Not sure why this is with the rest of this cut footage but I suppose it's because it took place after filming had wrapped. Most of the cast and creative crew were in attendance (Evangeline Lilly was a notable exception) and they basically just kid around with each other on stage. A few fans get up to ask questions and reveal that their mom says hi but not much else. I'm sure it would've been a blast to be at this event, but watching the tape doesn't really provide much (although it does reveal that Harold Perrineau is a shnazzy dressy).
Like I've said before, I'm not a real big TV guy, but I love me some "Lost." It's about as cinematic as you can get on the small screen. Hell, it's one of only a handful of shows on TV that uses a full, live orchestra to score each episode. If you were unlucky enough to miss it the first time around, you're lucky enough to have a fantastic DVD to catch yourself up on before Season 2 begins. Do yourself a favor and pick this puppy up and cancel your plans for the weekend!