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First season of ‘Lost’ highlights tense new show

Sean Sweany | Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Four, eight, 16. 23. 42.

For any fan of the hit television show “Lost,” these numbers are shrouded in mystery and significance. Fans must add one more number to this list: seven, as in the number of discs in the complete first-season DVD set of “Lost.”

ABC’s “Lost,” a winner of six Emmy Awards, joined “Desperate Housewives” in taking television by surprise last season and becoming one of the hottest shows on the air. The pilot episode began with the crash of an airliner traveling from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, Calif.

The remainder of the season tells the story of 48 survivors trying to collect themselves from the still burning wreckage and to figure out where they are. It is soon revealed that the plane was 1,000 miles off course when it crashed, so there is no one looking for the survivors.

If this sounds like “Survivor” plus “Gilligan’s Island,” fear not, because “Lost” takes a radical, almost sci-fi departure by introducing a mysterious and deadly beast in the jungle, a crazy French woman who has been transmitting an SOS message from the island for 16 years, polar bears, the strange sequence of numbers mentioned above, the mysterious “Others” on the island and plotlines for each of the characters that somehow relate to the mystery of the whole ordeal. Each episode uses flashbacks to focus on the back story of a different, individual character in the large cast, which is composed of mostly unknown or supporting role actors.

Jack (Matthew Fox), the doctor on the island, is the leader of these characters, although series creators J.J. Abrams (“Alias”) and Damon Lindelof (“Crossing Jordan”) admit they initially planned to kill Jack in one of the early episodes so the lovely Kate (Evangeline Lilly) could lead the survivors.

Veteran actor Terry O’Quinn (“Alias,” “The West Wing”) marvelously plays John Locke, by far the most mysterious survivor of the crash. In addition to these three lead characters, there are many other talented actors including Dominic Monaghan (“The Lord of the Rings Trilogy”) and Naveen Andrews (“The English Patient”). While the mystery and supernatural nature of the island are the big draws of the show, the believable performances of all the actors and the strong writing from Abrams and Lindelof carry the series.

These DVDs are a must-have for any “Lost” fan looking for hidden clues about the island as well as those who simply enjoy television without the annoying commercials. The 24 episodes are spread out over the first six discs with most of the special content on disc seven.

Each episode is presented in the widescreen format used especially for the ABC High Definition broadcasts. This format makes the show seem almost like a film, especially since the production is so similar to a big-budget Hollywood film. The quality of the picture is solid, allowing viewers to enjoy the beautiful and exotic landscape of Hawaii, where the show is filmed.

The night scenes and the deep greens and blues of the jungle create a dark, shadowy world, so a darkened room is ideal for getting the best viewing conditions, not to mention the most suspense in the tension filled moments.

The DVD runs in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and is impressive on home theater systems for action scenes and the haunting and dramatic score by Michael Giacchino (“The Incredibles”).

This DVD set comes loaded with special features about the making of the series. There are four commentaries by producers and actors for the pilot episode and the episodes “Walkabout,” The Moth” and “Hearts and Minds,” each on their respective discs.

The bonus materials on disc seven are divided into three parts. “Departure” gives viewers a sense of the extreme amount of effort it took to produce the pilot. For example, producers bought an old Delta Airlines plane and subsequently destroyed it to look like the crashed Oceanic jet.

“Tales from the Island” is comprised of behind-the-scenes looks at several episodes, including a hilarious visit to the set by Jimmy Kimmel. Finally, “Lost Revealed” features never-before-seen character flashbacks and deleted scenes. The deleted scenes are not organized by episode, however, so it is difficult to determine when some scenes were meant to air. The special features for this DVD set are above and beyond most television DVDs today. More than three hours await eager fans, but there is a sense that much more material could have been included, as well.

Overall, this complete first season of “Lost” is a must-have for any fan of the show. “Lost” has been so successful because it is different from the rehashed crime or legal dramas that premier every season, and anyone who picks up these DVDs will quickly find this as true. A close viewing reveals new secrets about the characters and the island that eager fans hope will be revealed in season two.