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Lost - The Complete First Season (2004) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
ImageArguably one of ABC’s best drama series during the past 5 years, "Lost's" first season began in 2004 and captured our sense of adventure and mystery from the very first episode.  It introduces 48 survivors of an airplane that crashed on an island somewhere in the South Pacific.  While waiting and desperately hoping to be rescued, they discover that this island is like none they have ever seen before.  Not only do they begin to hear strange voices and see an unexplained polar bear, but they are also confronted by a mysterious monster that hides in the jungle.  But that is only the beginning of the mystery surrounding this island.  Soon the survivors find that they are not alone on this island.  Who are these “Others”?  Each episode has events which make us have even more questions.  What is the significance of the set of numbers that are reoccurring throughout the season?  Are the survivors really on a physical island?  Is this all just a dream? With each episode in the first season we gain an individual perspective and back story for each of the main characters.  Jack, a doctor who appears to be a born leader for the survivors; Kate, a fugitive from the law; Sawyer, a smooth con man; Sayid, an Iraqi soldier; John Locke, a man unable to walk before the plain crash who becomes healed by the island; and many others.  Only by banding together can they hope to make it home alive.

The first episode immediately grabs our attention by throwing us into the chaotic scene of the Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 crash.  Amongst all the confusion we see a few leading characters emerge.  We are introduced to Jack and Kate with their actions on the island, along with flashbacks of them before the plane crash.  We learn more about John Locke who was shown in a wheelchair before the plane crash and then walking around the island with no apparent injuries.  We are also introduced to Sawyer and Sayid.  Sawyer demonstrates his dishonesty and ability to manipulate by hoarding some of the valuables recovered from the plane wreckage.  This leads Sayid to torture Sawyer, which we later discover was Sayid’s job while in the Iraqi Army.

By the middle of the season some of the survivors have met Rousseau, a woman who has been stuck on the island for 16 years.  She identifies a group of island residents she identifies as the "Others" who are evil and cannot be trusted.  We later find that one of the apparent “survivors” is actually an “Others”.  With each episode we start to increase our knowledge about other survivors and their pasts.  We also see an unexplained Polar Bear in the middle of the jungle, and several survivors encounter the monster; a cloud of black smoke that resembles death.  Toward the end of the season the survivors discover a hidden hatch which they eventually blow up in the season finale.
The first season did have its issues such as episodes with questions unanswered for too long.  However these issues were minor and quickly forgiven by the amazing writing and suburb acting.  The cast is made up almost completely of practical unknowns.  Probably the best-known actor at during the start of Season 1 was Dominic Monaghan who starred in a Lord of the Rings film.  Other rising stars included Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Naveen Andrews, Terry O'Quinn, Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, Yunjin Kim, Maggie Grace, and Emilie de Ravin.  This ensemble of actors made us feel as if we too were lost and desperate for answers. The later seasons of "Lost" have already been released on the Blu-ray format and contain some of the best video quality from television shows on Blu-ray.  Unfortunately, the first season of the show doesn't exhibit the same video quality.  This is usually the case with television seasons.  With season one containing the smallest production budget of all the "Lost" seasons, it contains impressive quality but can be nitpicked at for ages.  Film grain is present in the image, but it is hardly distracting.  The grain provides some depth to an otherwise rather smooth image.  Details are extraordinary, especially when dealing with the jungle sequences on the island.  Textures however are a bit flat.  The black levels are above average and only suffer due to the blown out contrast levels.  Heated contrast causes some minor crushing in the deep part of the black levels.  Whites are overblown, yielding some halo effects.  The color palette is lush, again especially when dealing with the green jungle sequences.  Fleshtones are a bit uneven over the course of the season.  As the first season progresses it is easy to see the video quality get better.  Surprisingly, there is some motion artifacting, or picture breakup in the image.  This is the first time that I have seen this in all the Blu-rays I have watched.  Other digital post-production techniques have been minimized.  These include edge enhancement and noise reduction.  Most viewers will be able to easily overlook all of these issues with the video.  Certainly, the Blu-ray edition of season one is much better than the standard DVD release and original high-definition broadcast.

In its original broadcast, "Lost" suffered in the audio department.  Retransmission of the audio by the network resulted in further data compression, compromising the balance of the audio channels and levels.  Thankfully, the Blu-ray comes equipped with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  This gets us as close to the originally intended mix as we can.  Dialogue is no longer buried by sound effects and music.  The dialogue is crisp and clear.  Never due you have to struggle to hear the actors' words.  There are still some balance issues in the original mix during the first portion of the first season.  The LFE channel is prominent throughout the season.  The exploding jet engines are very detailed.  Dynamics are terrific between explosions and dialogue.  Subtleties are even more impressive than the dynamics.  Soft sounds permeate throughout the soundfield.  Ambience is well placed in the surround channels.  Panning from front to rear is also seamless.  This is truly the way "Lost" was supposed to be heard and is worth season one on Blu-ray alone.

"Lost: Season One" comes in a seven-disc Blu-ray package.  The Blu-ray set contains all the original special features that were present on the 2005 standard DVD release.  All content has been left in standard definition.  First, there are five audio commentaries among the first season episodes.  Both parts of the pilot episode contain an audio commentary with J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk.  The episode, "Walkabout" has an audio commentary with writer David Fury, Terry O'Quinn and director Jack Bender.  This is perhaps the best audio commentary in the set.  The episode, "The Moth" contains an audio commentary with Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof and actor Dominic Monaghan.  Lastly, "Hearts and Minds" contains dull commentary with Carlton Cuse and Javier Grillo Marxuach, along with actors Maggie Grace and Ian Sommerhalder.  All of these audio commentaries are illuminating about the production, cast, writing, sound design and plots of "Lost."

The rest of the special features are located on the seventh disc in the package.  "The Departure" is section that contains featurettes and some lengthier documentaries.  The clips in this section are; "The Genesis of Lost," "Designing a Disaster," "Before They Were Lost," "Welcome to Oahu," "The Art of Matthews" and "Lost at Comicon."  These sequences contain information on the casting process, pilot episode and development, as well as some photo galleries.

"Lost On Location" is a documentary that is separated into eight parts.  This documentary deals with the production design of various episodic developments.  "The Trouble With Boars" examines the animals used in the show.  "House of the Rising Sun" takes a look at some specific scenes throughout the season.  "Confidence Man" is an in-depth look at the emotional aspects of the show.  "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues" is a choreography section.  "Whatever the Case May Be" examines the storyline of the character, Kate.  "Hearts and Minds" looks into Shannon and Boone.  "Special" examines more relationships.  Lastly, "Exodus" takes a detailed look at the season finale.

Other special features in the package include; deleted scenes, flashbacks, bloopers, and several other vignettes.  The package is also equipped with Disney's Season Play, allowing you to resume the season at any time.

Every one of the 25 episodes in the first season was incredibly exciting with nonstop mystery and drama.  Each episode brought about answers to questions, a deeper level of understanding of our favorite characters, and of course more questions!  By the end of the season there were more several mysteries that remained unanswered, making the wait for Season 2 almost unbearable.

[Portions of this review were contributed by M.E.S]

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