The fourth season of "Lost" has arrived. With great anticipation of the return of John Locke, Benjamin Linus and other fan favorites, season three is now behind us. I had previously reviewed the complete third season of "Lost" on DVD in what turned out to be a controversial review. In my fanatacism with the show, I unwittingly took the egotistical belief that everybody watched and loved the show with the fervor that I do. With that mindset, I managed to create a heated debate due to the spoilers I had included in that particular review. "Lost" is a show about mystery. It is about surprise and it is not about not having much clue as to what is going to occur in the next episodes. "Lost" is all about keeping its viewers, well, lost.
I had intended to post this review of the Blu-ray release a day or two before the season premiere of the fourth season, but sometimes the real world has a way of wrecking our plans. Instead of simply reposting that review, I have decided to rewrite a ‘spoiler' free review. So, here it is. It borrows paragraphs and text from the previous review, but there is all new content placed throughout the review. You could call this my ‘George Lucas' version of the "Lost: The Complete Third Season" review, but I promise no guest quotes from Jar Jar Binks. Instead of having intricate and juicy details about what happened in the third season, I will try to give a little more (or less) insight into the third season. However, there may still be one or two spoilers purposely left in the review. I need to comment on my hopes for the fourth season towards the end of this new review and that will require talking about the concept of ‘flash forwards.'
Please enjoy this "Lost: The Complete Third Season – Digitally Altered Version" review of the enhanced Blu-ray release of the series.
"Lost" is the best damn show on television. Period. In fact, I believe it may be the best damn show in television history. "M*A*S*H," "Cheers," and "Married with Children" are three other television shows I have loved in my time on Earth, but nothing has kept my interest nearly as much as J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof´s complicated and intricate story of airplane survivors stranded on an island with more mysteries than the Kennedy family. With the greatest character in television history (John Locke as portrayed by Terry O´Quinn) and a solid supporting cast that includes Henry Ian Cusick, Naveen Andrews, Daniel Dae Kim, Jorge Garcia and the incredible Michael Emerson, not many shows can compete with the ensemble cast gathered for "Lost." Among those names, I did not even mention many of the other stars on the show, Evangaline Lilly, Matthew Fox, Josh Holloway, Dominick Monaghan, Emilie de Ravin or Yunjin Kim. There is another dozen or so supporting and recurring characters not named in that impressive list.
For many viewers, "Lost" is a complicated and frustrating mess. There are a tremendous number of sub-plots and even more unanswered questions that have gathered and festered over three long seasons. Important events that took place in the earliest episodes of season one is still unanswered and for each question answered; there are typically three new questions raised. Every moment of every show needs scrutinized and analyzed to pick up every clue and hint presented by the show´s creators. It truly can be called a jumbled mess, but this is the true beauty of "Lost." We, the fans are indeed lost. This allows for long water cooler conversations and deep thought sessions about what is actually happening on the show. No other show can boast black smoke monsters, imploding magnetic stations and crippled men who suddenly become the ´Great White Hunter.´ And that is just the tip of the iceberg of unusual happenings and scientific anomalies that captivate and entertain each and every week.
The third season of "Lost" began with a six episode mini-season that aired to provide a shorter summer break between the second and third season and allow for the remaining episodes to ear without the repeat episodes and lengthy breaks that plagued the show´s first two seasons. While audiences were frustrated when "Lost" disappeared for weeks at a time; they were far more frustrated by the seemingly unfocused mini-season that began the third year of the Losties adventures on the mysterious island. Part of the frustration was that "Lost" didn´t contain many moments with the show´s regulars John Locke (O´Quinn), Desmond Hume (Cusick), Charlie Pace (Monaghan), Claire Littleton (de Ravin), Hurley Reyes (Garcia), Jin Kwon (Kim), Sun Kwon (Yunjin Kim) or Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Jack Shephard (Fox), James "Sawyer" Ford (Holloway) and Kate Austen (Lilly) were the primary returning characters on display for this first batch of episodes and joined Benjamin Linus (Emerson), Mr. Friendly (M.C. Gainey), Alex (Mira Furlan) and Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell).
There was some disatisfaction among the "Lost" faithful when the first six episodes failed to spend much time at all with the Losties that made their home on the gorgeous beach. Most of the first six episodes were centered on the now-infamous Jack-Kate-Sawyer love triange and their fates after the season ending cliffhanger for season two. I personally enjoyed the show's creator's decision to spend a little time on another part of the island. I felt it added to the complexity and mystery of the island. A lot of time was spent with the character of Ben and the curtain was finally raised on the mysterous group we have come to know as "The Others." Elizabeth Mitchell's character becomes one of the show's primary new characters and the first six episodes spent a great deal of time cementing her presence on the island. A few minor supporting characters were also included and some didn't make it past the first six episodes.
Two new characters were introduced to the beach inhabiting Losties and initially intended to be regulars. The new characters, Nikki and Paolo were forced upon viewers and never fully accepted. Sawyer and others poked fun at them and constantly questioned who they were and where they came from. They always seemed to appear at unusual times and their actual purpose was never fully explained until the episode "Expose" when male viewers were rewarded with an incredibly sexy for prime time pole dancing sequence with Nikki and a great cameo by Billy Dee Williams. Nikki and Paolo never caught on with audiences and they too met demise on the island in rather unique fashion. They were only minor supporting characters, but their exit only proved further that the show´s creators were not afraid to take anybody out at anytime and under any circumstance.
A few of the show's regulars and some supporting characters also met their demise. The creators of "Lost" have proven over the first three seasons that they are not afraid to drop the axe on any given character. I'm not even so sure that the Saywer-Kate-Jack triangle is safe or other popular figures like Hurley or Locke. Given my dropping these five names, you can rest assured that they survive to season four, but a couple well-liked characters can only ever return in flashbacks. One of the deaths was quick and unexpected and caused quite an uproar in the "Lost" fan community. The other became a tease over several episodes and was expected when it happened, but I must give the show's creators great praise for how they handled this character's loss. Some of the supporting characters lasted a few brief episodes, but others have been around for a while.
Ben Linus has become one of my favorite characters and this has allowed talented actor Michael Emerson to move from a supporting role to a major role on the show. He is truly one of the better villains on television today and perhaps all-time. Part of the allure of this character is his chemistry and interaction with Terry O'Quinn's Johne Locke. They have an interesting relationship that straddles the line between friendship and being adversaries. Each tries to get the upper hand on the other, but there seems to be a deep seeded underlying understanding that their presence on the island is important and they will need each other's services to survive and find the peace and harmony they seek with the island. If season three excelled at any one thing in particular, it would be the relationship between Ben and Locke. Perhaps after "Lost" they can create a spin-off with the two characters in an "Odd Couple" sort of storyline.
With all of the new faces, some of the old faces that were supporting characters last season nearly disappeared from the island. A few plot points were lost in the details as well. In particular, the husband and wife team of Rose and Bernard did not factor into the story until the season finale. Rose is a character who has witnessed the healing powers of the island and has made a connection with John Locke. Bernard has shown a number of traits that placed him among the trusted leaders of the Losties, but neither had any parts to play in the third season. The running gag of Steve and Scott was absent as well and the third season tighly focused on a small number of characters that lived on the beach. The cave where water is transported from was completely forgotten in the third season. "Lost" is an expansive story, but I always felt cheated that the affable Rose and Bernard were almost completely forgotten.
The third season started off slow, but it needed to work hard at establishing the parallel storyline of The Others in short fashion and this did manage to answer a number of questions generated during the first two seasons of "Lost." Of course, in typical fashion, more new questions were raised. I was very happy that John Locke left behind the tight quarters of the hatch and regained his form as the island's ultimate hunter. A whole new level of complexity has been added to the show and I do feel that this may turn away some viewers, but it has only served to make "Lost" my all-time favorite television show with its intricate and well thought out storylines. After the slow start, the action heated up quickly as the Losties and the Others found themselves co-existing on the island. Having promised a (mostly) spoiler free review, I won't get into details, but Locke blows some stuff up. It's fun.
I won't go as far as saying that the third season surpassed the first season in story, excitement and other aspects, but it was an improvement over the hatch-centric second season. The second season was too confined and lacked the grand adventure feeling of the rookie season. It suffered from a sophmore slump. However, the third season brought back a lot of the mystery and danger that was absent from season two. Just when the show started to have viewers feel a little more comfortable on the island, new elements were added that just made things more unknown and twisted. The Losties know they are not alone and whereas the Black Smoke Monster and the Others were the villains of the first two seasons, it now appears there is far more dangerous entites surrounding the island than before. This definitely builds up excitement for the fourth season.
In short summary, I enjoyed the third season of "Lost" and felt it really started to take off after the original six episodes concluded. Many questions were answered and familiar characters returned to form. I loved seeing Locke return to the jungle and once again becoming a powerful enigma that bordered the line between good and bad. I felt Sawyer became a little too ´mushy, ´ but he too redeemed himself before the season ended. The characters of Ben and Desmond become strong starring characters, but it was sad to see some reguars leave. One character I had always hoped would be smoke monster fodder, but the writers did an incredible job of making audiences sympathetic to the character before them him off. The Sawyer/Kate/Jack triangle continues to frustrate, but Juliet would be my pick between her and Kate. Jacob is a new mystery. Smokey is still a mystery. Who are the Others was explained, but not entirely and I still feel another tribe exists on the island. Hurley is still funny as hell and I loved watching him drive around the island in his VW van. This season wasn´t as good as the first season, but it was an improvement over the second season.
"Lost" arrives on the high definition Blu-ray format in a very high quality 1.85:1 transfer that is encoded at 1080p with the AVC MPEG-4 codec. I had religiously watched "Lost" during its normal timeslot at the 720p broadcast signal provided by ABC and fully expected the television season to arrive as an upconverted version of the 720p broadcasted episodes. The first I had watched the third season on home video was with the DVD releases and I had been disappointed with watching the show in low definition after watching the entire third season in glorious high definition. I was more than surprised that the Blu-ray release of "Lost" is an extremely high quality version of the show in native 1080p that is a tremendous upgrade over both the DVD release and the broadcasted episodes.
The transfer is not perfect, but "Lost" is easily the best looking television show I've yet to see on any of the high definition formats. It exceeds "Heroes," "Battlestar Galactica" and "The Sopranos." The image is rock steady and strongly detailed. The lush background of the Hawaiian island where the show is shot looks aboslutely incredible. You can count the different colored hairs of Jack's salt and pepper scruff. The various hatches and others sets look stunning. Even the hokey special effects of Locke battling a (minor spoiler) jungle creature hold up in this extrememly detailed high definition transfer. Coloring is very strong and the palette is as lush as the jungle locations and perfectly saturated. Black levels are strong and shadow detail is nothing less than impressive. There is a minor amount of film grain in some shots and a very minor amount of edge enhancement in a few overly contrasted scenes, but these minor gripes are quite minimal.
I want to know how the producers of "Lost" got away with the worst title sequence in television history. However, from the moment the letters L-O-S-T spiral across the screen, it is apparent that the Uncompressed PCM 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes are nicely done, though the PCM is clearly superior. You can hear the haunting notes of the title card move from front to rear and the sound is sharp and clean. Environmental and ambient sound effects are stunning in "Lost" and considering this is a show where ‘whispers' can sometimes be heard giving hints of clues, sound is very important. You can easily hear birds, the sounds of wind moving through the trees and the odd mechanical stylings of Smokey. John Locke blows stuff up in season three and each and every explosion is bombastic and powerful. Dialogue is spot-on perfect in clarity and the musical score is very nicely handled by the mix. As was the case with the visuals, "Lost" is a top notch presentation of a television show on video, although "Battlestar Galactica" has some very nice sounding moments and is a stronger overall soundtrack with its more aggressive sound design.
The Blu-ray release of "Lost" features a few supplements that were not contained with the DVD release of season three. First and foremost is a feature called Season Play. This feature claims that it will allow viewers to activate the feature and that it will help the viewer keep track of what episodes they have watched and which particular episode is next in their list to watch the show in its proper order. It did not appear that Season Play would maintain a bookmark if you stopped watching mid-episode, but I managed to get it to work on my Playstation 3, but not on my Samsung BD-P1400. I imagine this is one of those interactive features that are clunky for some machines, but it is an interesting concept that will probably be overlooked by most.
After the Season Play, a number of exclusive materials are provided. When the disc boots up, a Blu-ray Introduction by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof praising the viewers decision to purchase the Blu-ray release and they state how this is the definitive method of watching their show. The most intriguing bonus feature is called Access Granted and this is an interactive experience that helps uncover some of the details and secrets of "Lost." Cuse and Lindelof provide a number of answers and go into details about some of the rabbid fan-based speculation that surrounds a number of topics and the show. This feature does take some time to get completely through all of the segments and casual fans will learn a lot from this feature, but nothing new is provided to the hardcore among us. Blu-Prints: The Sets of Season 3 (16:31) is a very nice feature that offers up tours of many of the familiar sets from season three. Some little details are pointed out from set pieces and I enjoyed this a good deal. Finally, the little video that sweeped the Internet by storm, The Orchid Instructional Film (2:10) is included. All I'm going to say is "What is up with the rabbits?"
The first disc of seven for the third season of "Lost" contains for the episode "A Tale of Two Cities a Commentary by Executive Producer Damon Lindelof and Actor Elizabeth Mitchell. This was the season premiere episode of season three and the very first episode featuring the lovely Elizabeth Mitchell. The commentary track was light-hearted and didn´t delve too deeply into any important secrets regarding "Lost," but the two share a few nice anecdotes and talk about a few deleted moments and provide a few nuggets of things you may have missed while watching the television show. Lindelof is an entertaining personality, but he shares his time with Mitchell. This was a fun and somewhat informative commentary track that nicely began the extra offerings for "Lost."
The second DVD provides a threesome for the episode "I Do." The Commentary by writer/producer Carlton Cuse, Actor Evangeline Lilly and Actor Josh Holloway finds one of the show´s creators mixing it up with Kate and Sawyer as they discuss the pivotal episode that reveals Kate actually loved somebody in a previous life. The tone for this second commentary is again relaxed and Josh Holloway is just as funny out of character as he is as Sawyer. The actors talk about what it is like to work with one another and make as many jokes as they can through the scenes. Cuse comes across a little monotone in his delivery, but he does create a very nice commentary and dominates much of the conversation, but the three play nicely off of each other. My only question is where was Matthew Fox in this little commentary love triangle?
The third disc did not contain a commentary, but on the fourth DVD you can view the episode "Expose" with Commentary by Co-Executive Producers / Writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. The menu to select this commentary was not the easiest to view, and this "B Team" commentary is not nearly as exciting as the previous two commentary tracks. Kitsis and Horowitz are far dryer in delivery during their commentary. They do not joke around very much compared to the previous two tracks and as an example of their humor; they provide a definition for ´digging´ during the opening moments of the commentary. This is a nice listen for fans, but those who are not completely in love with "Lost" (as I am) may want to skip this particular commentary track. They provide nice details, but this is a dry listen. It is nice the writers voice is heard, but where is Terry O´Quinn and Matthew Fox?
The fifth disc contains the last and best commentary of the set for the episode "The Man Behind the Curtain." This Locke featured episode was disappointing for not including Terry O´Quinn, but the Commentary with Co-Creator/Executive Producer Damon Lindelof, Executive Producer Carlton Cuse and Actor Michael Emerson features the Cuse/Lindelof team that has delighted fans with their weekly podcasts and my second favorite actor of the show; Michael Emerson. Cuse and Lindelof feed off of each other and their friendship is very much apparent. I would have done anything for an Emerson and O´Quinn partnership for a commentary, but this is a fun, informative and outstanding commentary track. The three keep things light-hearted, but a good deal of information is dropped from the threesome.
The seventh DVD contains nothing but bonus materials. The only problem with the disc is the menu system, which is meant to be immersive and not intuitive. The first remote press brings you into Sawyer´s cage. Instead of being rewarded with a fish biscuit, you are provided options for the Lost Book Club (8:12), Cast in Clay: Creating the Toys of Todd McFarlane (5:12) and The Next Level: Inside the Video Game (4:06). The "Book Club" feature discusses the importance of the books shown in the show and the obscure references throughout the show. Everything is a hint on "Lost" and this helps others realize they need to pay attention to the books. Michael Emerson lends his time, so you know this is worth looking at. The toy feature isn´t bad, but it is about toys and conventions. "The Next Level" is a tease at the upcoming video game. I just hope it comes out for the Xbox 360. I need my "Lost" achievements.
The top right video screen delivers the viewer into a maintenance room. Clicking the walkie-talkie brings up choices for Lost: On Location (58:13), Crew Tribute with Evangeline Lilly (7:19) and Lost in a Day (25:33). "On Location" is the meatiest of the supplements beyond the commentary tracks. It delivers information on nine episodes from Season Three and they can be played independently or collectively with a "Play All" feature. Each featured episode finds the actors providing insight into their characters and the episodes. This really was interesting and shows how much fun the cast and crew have in making this show. The "Crew Tribute" found Kate showing various crew members and giving them a few moments of fame to thank them for working on the show. "Lost in a Day" details one day (fourteen hours to be exact) among the cast and crew of "Lost." Seven episodes were featured and this little half hour feature shows how much work goes into the show. It was very interesting and I highly recommend watching it.
The bottom left monitor goes to a computer in a medical lab. Toggling the button highlighting the computer monitor brings up The World of the Others (14:12), Terry O´Quinn: Throwing from the Handle (1:41) and a Blooper Reel (6:25). "The World of the Others" takes a brief look at the ´Others´ and the little community detailed during the entire season and especially during the first six episodes. This was a nice little feature, but it only delayed my viewing of "Throwing from the Handle." At just under two minutes, I was disappointed in length, but I did enjoy watching the legendary Terry O´Quinn discuss knife throwing. The dollar trick was impressive. The bloopers were only better than average because they dealt with "Lost." Otherwise, they were typical blooper fare.
The center monitor on the bottom jumps to some communication equipment, which in turn brings up a menu for The Lost Flashbacks, Deleted Scenes (17:20), Sneak Peeks and the Orchid Instructional Film (2:10) that created quite a fervor when it debuted a few months ago. The "Flashbacks" are for three episodes: Further Instructions: Locke Escapes (1:27), The Glass Ballerina: Funeral Scene (:37) and Expose: People Can Change (3:35). These are additional flashback scenes that were not seen during the show and one features Locke. The nine deleted scenes can again be played separately or collectively. These are a must watch for "Lost" fans as a few very good details are contained within them. The "Super Powers, Dude" and "Journey to Jacob´s Place" are both huge. Skip the "Sneak Peeks" and watch the "Orchid" film. It is unusual and you´ll wonder about the rabbits.
In conclusion, the supplements are very nice. The commentary tracks are limited and my Christmas wish of a Locke and Ben commentary didn´t happen. In fact, there were no Terry O´Quinn commentary tracks. This made me sad. However, the supplements were pretty good and not nearly as confusing as the "Lost Connections" from Season Two in DVD navigation. I wish the show´s Podcasts were included, or some more deleted scenes. There are no doubt Easter Eggs within the seven DVDs of the set, but revealing them spoils the fun of Easter Eggs and I´ll leave that up to you, the reader, to find them.
The show took a new direction and I can´t wait to see where it goes next. The concept of a flash-forward, which was introduced in a show-changing sequence during the season three finale, to coincide with the now familiar flashbacks is only going to add new threads of storytelling to the fourth season (which currently seems shortened to eight episodes because of the writers´ strike). The island has a plan for Locke and I feel his actions in the finale were only the start of many great things. I didn't get around to shaving my head for the season premiere of season four this year, and I continue to take my enjoyment of "Lost" a bit far, but this Blu-ray release only adds to my excitement.
The high definition release has near pristine visuals and a very strong sounding PCM sound track. There are a number of Blu-ray exclusive features that make this a worthwhile upgrade over the standard DVD release. This is a nice package and all fans of "Lost" should have it on their bookshelves if they have not already purchased the DVD. I eagerly anticipate the releases of the first two seasons onto the Blu-ray format so that I may enjoy their high defintion visuals. This is the best show on television, bar none and now "Lost" is the best television show on Blu-ray and HD-DVD combined. In fact, this may be the finest single season release of a television show on any home video format.