Starring Mathew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Naveen Andrews, George Garcia, Josh Holloway, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Terry O’Quinn, Emilie de Raven, Elizabeth Mitchell
Created By J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse
I came late to the Alias party, having watched most of it on DVD and joining the live broadcast for the last couple of years once I had caught up. The show had so many reboots in the last few seasons that it was nearly unwatchable by the time the final few episodes aired. With that said, it did properly close up the two main characters. This is important because that series was a creation of J.J. Abrams, the man that would next bring us LOST.
LOST was like the most addictive drug you could conceive of in TV series form when it launched. Each episode was riveting and the mystery was suspenseful and full of twists and turns. The creators of the show also did a fantastic job of casting the series bringing together an ensemble cast of what ends up being fantastic actors. Who new that Evangeline Lilly, a girl that was previously modeling game accessories on a videogame show, would be so engaging. At any rate, the series was an unabashed success that had the level of water cooler talk usually only reserved for HBO series. Then it happened, the network decided they wanted the show to slow its pace and give them more episodes. The reaction by critics and fans was near immediate. A single six episode run cut the viewership in half and critics were railing against the dragging story. The creators came together and made a deal with the network for an end date for the series. With that end date firmly in sight, the creators and writers could design the rest of the show and make every episode important again. This occurred during season three.
Now we have season four, a season that just seemed to fight its way onto screens through the drudgery of the writer’s strike. Even with the writer’s strike looming, the creators of LOST were still able to craft some of the best episodes of the series. This season gets back to the thrills and mystery of season one. Season four added a new element, a new tool for mystery making and storytelling; the flash forward. The big story arc this season involved the “Oceanic Six”, six of the castaways that make it off the island. Throughout the abbreviated 13 episodes of season four, the six are revealed via flash forward and the story of their return home is told. As you might expect, all things aren’t roses for the six with not one of them leading a happy life back in the real world. In typical LOST fashion, the flash forward stories have not only a direct effect on the current time happenings on the island but they also connect to island stories thematically.
The happenings on the island are just as exciting as those in the flash forwards. The castaways make contact with a freighter that they initially believe has come to save them. Locke never believes this pitting him against Jack once again as they have different goals on the island and each thinks the other is wrong. There are tons of character revelations during this season as we see what happens too many of them in the flash forwards but of course more mysteries are added to the mythology. All of these out of time stories from flash back to current time to flash forward can be extremely complex in execution and the creators handle it all brilliantly. The season ends up being satisfying in the answers that it gives but enough mysteries remain, and new ones are introduced, that the next season can’t come quick enough.
The biggest complaint I can lodge against the season isn’t really the fault of the show runners. It’s that the show often feels rushed and bloated with story. These situations happen due to a shortened and rushed season due to the writer’s strike. One other minor complaint is that some of the creepiness of the previous seasons isn’t in this one. This season actually has more of a sci-fi feel to it. It’s not all gone, Locke does get a few opportunities to be weird and those are always intriguing. There are all kinds of reasons why this season shouldn’t be great but it ends up being excellent.
The 1080p 16:9 presentation here is gorgeous. LOST is shot in Hawaii which means there’s beautiful scenery at virtually every turn and the cinematography often takes advantage of it. Colors are well balanced and detail is extremely high revealing the most subtle of textures and particles that exist in this environment. Black levels are good for the most part although film grain can get a bit heavy in darker scenes. The entire series was also artificially sharpened making some scenes feel harsh and adding some artifacts to some episodes. Even with these minor complaints, LOST is still one of the best looking hi def TV series available.
The audio is presented in uncompressed PCM 5.1 and it sounds great. This is a TV series so it doesn’t feature the surround stage usage of a feature film but it does utilize it more than most night time TV dramas. The rear speakers come to life generally just a bit during action scenes. The sound effects, score, and dialogue are mixed clean throughout the episodes and are completely engrossing. The dynamic range is really satisfying; especially considering the fact that most of the sound comes from the front of the soundstage. Like the video the audio presentation is one of the best TV to disc presentations so far.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The 5 disc set comes in a fairly streamlined blu-ray amaray case with a slipcover featuring typical LOST artwork. This isn’t an insult; it just means that fans won’t have any trouble identifying it on store shelves.
All 5 of the discs are blu-ray enhanced making them take a really long time to load. There’s also a bug in the menu system where you get asked what disc you are watching and if you answer wrong it’ll tell you to switch discs. This is a minor annoyance but it shouldn’t be there. Fans of the show that just want to watch the episodes and not participate in the interactive elements are going to get annoying with this extra step just to watch an episode of the series.
The menu system is cool looking for the bonus features but it’s also just a bit confusing the first time you look at it. Once you’re settled into what’s important in the image, you’ll be fine.
The bonus features from the standard def release of the season are provided in this set but are presented in hi def:
There are four audio commentaries on various episodes. Two of the commentaries are with producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and the others are dominated by cast members. All four commentaries are a good listen with the cast commentaries being more personal and the Cuse and Lindelof commentaries are more hardcore story and production oriented.
LOST in 8:15 is a funny recap of the first three seasons of LOST that originally appeared on the web prior to the start of the season four broadcast.
There’s a bevy of featurettes on the last disc that start with Lost on Location, a 42 minute look at the stunts of the season and honestly (write this down because I almost never say something like this) runs too long. There’s not enough variety in interviews and behind the scenes shots to keep the featurette lively and interesting. Rebecca Mader is the only cast member offering much information here. The Island Backlot: Lost in Hawaii runs around 18 minutes and shows how the crew utilizes various parts of Hawaii to represent locales from all over the world. This featurette is really interesting and it’s surprising just how many times a single location gets used to represent different places in the story. The Right to Bear Arms is a 12 minute look at the tough job of maintaining continuity when it comes to all of the guns on the show. Again, it’s short but really interesting. Soundtrack of Survival: Composing for Character, Conflict, and the Crash is just what it sounds like; a 25 minute look at the score for the season. The Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy of Lies is a mockumentary that attempts to debunk the story of the Oceanic Six. This featurette is worth watching one time for a few funny bits. Lost Missing Pieces is a series of 13 shorts done during the season for mobile devices. These are usually just scenes meant to fill out the characters a bit. Most of these are a fun watch. The Freighter Folk and The Offshore Shoot are two short featurettes that focus on the characters of the freighter and shooting in that location. These two featurettes should have been combined.
Other than the above there is a short blooper reel and 9 minutes of deleted scenes. Why not go ahead and put some of the TV spots on this disc. Another interesting featurette would have been one that focuses on the entire out of the box marketing that’s done for this series.
There are some blu-ray exclusives here too. SeasonPlay allows you to monitor where you are in the series as you progress though it. This won’t be something you’ll use over and over again but it might be fun for the first watch after buying the set. Course of the Future: The Definitive Interactive Flash Forwards is a fun way to watch all of the flash forwards from season four. They are all edited together in chronological order creating a unique 52 minute experience. That’s all well and good but in order to enjoy it you have to beat an awkwardly laid out game first. Really, the game should not have to be beaten to enjoy this additional featurette. You can watch it with pop script excerpts and notes too. More from the Symphony is a 16 minute featurette featuring the Honolulu Symphony performing the score live with Terry O’Quinn doing readings between segments.
Along with all of these features there are a ton of Easter eggs spread across all 5 discs. These Easter eggs are really short featurettes and deleted scenes.
There are a few hours of bonus feature goodness here that really enhances the enjoyment of the season. With that said, the extras just somehow don’t seem to dig deep enough into the mythology also the weirdness of the loading of the discs gets really irritating.
I deserves being said again, “LOST is easily one of the best series on television”. It may be the best show on TV but man; Battlestar Galactica is awfully good. At any rate, this is a fantastic presentation of a fantastic series. Buying this one is a no brainer.
Overall (Not an average) 9/10
The Season 8.5/10
The Video 9/10
The Audio 8.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8.5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10