J.D. Lafrance
Lost: Season 1 DVD Review

Lost: Season 1

January 15, 2006

Director: J.J. Abrams, Jack Bender, Tucker Gates, Kevin Hooks, Stephen Williams, ,
Starring: Naveen Andrews, Emilie de Ravin, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia, Maggie Grace, Josh Holloway, Malcolm David Kelley, Daniel Dae Kim, Yoon-jin Kim, Evangeline Lilly, Dominic Monaghan, Terry O'Quinn, Harold Perrineau Jr., Ian Somerhalder, ,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

A man in a disheveled suit wakes up in a jungle. He looks disoriented. He gets up and begins running through the dense foliage and comes out on a beautiful-looking beach. He looks around and is confronted by an absolutely horrific scene. We don’t see it immediately but it’s written all over his face. A commercial jet liner has crashed. People are wandering around in a daze. A woman screams hysterically. There are dozens of wounded, some are dead. Fires are burning out of control. It is utter chaos. Welcome to Lost.

On a routine trip from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, Flight 815 is blown off course and crashes on a deserted island literally in the middle of nowhere. The 48 survivors set up a makeshift camp on the beach in anticipation of being rescued. Each episode of Lost is split between exploring the backstory of one of the survivors—what they were doing, who they were before they got on the plane and providing motivation for what they do and say on the island—and how they are all trying to survive on the island with people forming groups while some decide to go it alone. If just trying to survive and dealing with each other isn’t difficult enough, there is something out there, in the jungle, that doesn’t sound human and kills the occasional survivor with ferocious intensity. This is only one of the many engrossing subplots of a show that has to have one of the most intriguing premises of any network series in years.

Many of these characters are not exactly what they seem to be. Charlie (Monaghan) is a musician and secretly a drug addict. Jack (Fox) is a heroic doctor but also haunted by a past that involves his dead father. Kate (Lilly) looks like the beautiful girl-next-door but is actually a wanted bank robber. Sawyer (Holloway) is a charismatic con man who is punishing himself over guilt and anger from an awful childhood. Most intriguingly, Locke (O’Quinn) was a wheelchair-bound office drone who has been transformed into a walking, rugged survivalist on the island. As the season progresses, all of these characters (and many others) are expertly fleshed out so that we begin to care about them and even develop favourites. It is their secrets that we see, but are not always revealed to other characters, that is what makes them so fascinating — especially when it affects how they interact with each other.

The, at times, unforgiving environment is used effectively in Lost. In some scenes it is an idyllic paradise with postcard perfect vistas and in others, it is incredibly harsh and even forbidding, like when someone has to run from that unseen creature always lurking just out of view. The mystery of its identity is one of the most intriguing in the show because we never see what exactly it is. The writers know that what we can imagine is so much more horrific than what they could show us.

There are many tantalizing mysteries waiting to be deciphered in Lost with new ones introduced every few episodes to keep the audience guessing, like the mysterious looped radio transmission with a woman speaking in French, or a metal hatch buried in the ground, light emanating from it. The writers on the show manage to maintain a certain level of suspense throughout the season as we wonder, will the survivors be rescued? Will they die? What is that creature out there? Lost walks a dangerous tightrope a la Twin Peaks and Carnivale in that if the writers don’t reveal a few mysteries eventually, they run the risk that some of their audience will get fed up with waiting and stop watching. So far, Lost has managed to maintain just the right balance, successfully keeping its audience in anticipation of what revelations lie in store for the second season.

Special Features:

Clearly the creators of Lost know their audience very well judging by the number of meaty extras that cater to the obsessive fan. These commentaries and featurettes explain a lot about the mechanics of the show without giving away any of the mysteries.

On the first DVD, there are audio commentaries for both parts of the “Pilot” episode by executive producers J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk. They talk briefly about how they pitched the show and take us through the making of the episode. In an interesting moment, Abrams actually stops the episode to show us how they did an explosion in the crash site sequence. These are very informative tracks with lots of anecdotes about filming.

There is an audio commentary on “Walkabout” by executive producers Jack Bender and David Fury and actor Terry O’Quinn. Bender talks about the challenge of working with trained wild boars that ate too much and didn’t feel like moving in a scene that required them to charge the actors. Unfortunately, O’Quinn doesn’t talk much only offering brief insights.

The second DVD includes a commentary for “The Moth” by Lindelof, Burk and actor Dominic Monaghan. The Lord of the Rings alum tends to spend most of the time cracking jokes and offering little insight on this so-so track.

The fourth DVD features an audio commentary on “Hearts and Minds” by executive producer Carlton Cuse, supervising producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach and actors Maggie Grace and Ian Sommerhalder. The writers wanted to explore Boone and Shannon’s relationship as well as Boone’s apprenticeship, of sorts, with Locke. The two producers dominate the track as they talk about their intentions with the actors offering their occasional two cents.

The bulk of the extras can be found on the seventh DVD. “The Genesis of Lost” is a good look at how the show’s story came together. An executive at ABC pitched Lost as Cast Away (2000): The Series. They had a script but it was awful. At the time, Abrams was the network’s go-to guy and he had already been toying with an idea of a plane crashing on a deserted island.

“Designing a Disaster” takes a look at how they put together the chaotic crash site in the “Pilot” episode. The creators had no script and very little time but the production crew was able to find the right plane, take it apart, ship it and put it back together (sort of).

“Before They Were Lost” examines how the cast came together in only three weeks. The creators had to find the right actor for the role and who would also fit together with other cast members. The actors talk about how they got the gig with footage from their audition tapes.

“Welcome to Oahu: The Making of The Pilot” takes us through the first day of filming to completion. The airplane breaking apart was a mix of CGI and good ol’ fashioned shaking the camera (a la Star Trek). Cast and crew recount the sometimes harsh weather conditions they had to shoot in but it did help them bond as a team.

“The Art of Matthew Fox” is a collection of photographs the actor took while shooting the “Pilot.” He talks about them as they flash on the screen in this nice extra.

“Lost@Comicon” is a brief clip of some of the cast and crew at that year’s San Diego Comicon and their impressions of the event.

“Lost: On Location” is a collection of behind-the-scenes featurettes that give insight into how certain sequences in select episodes were achieved, like the least-threatening wild boars, the humanizing of Sawyer, the revelation of Kate as a fugitive bank robber and a look at the climatic season finale.

“Onset with Jimmy Kimmel” features the late night talk show host visiting the cast on location in Hawaii in this whimsical extra. Kimmel asks Monaghan to compose a (lame) theme song for the show and goofs around with everyone.

“Backstage with Driveshaft” takes a look at Charlie and his fictitious band, which thinks of themselves as the next Oasis but is probably only a one-hit wonder.

There are two flashbacks from the season finale with Claire and Sayid.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 98%



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