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I have to confess that LOST is possibly my favourite Television show ever. With its huge budget pilot (known as the most expensive pilot episode ever produced), it set the tone for this genre-twisting drama, which combined supernatural mystery with in-depth character drama.
Most people are aware of the central premise, but I'll summarise it briefly here. A plane leaving from Australia crashes on a seemingly deserted island, with the survivors forced to band together, despite their differences and build a camp on the beach, whilst they await rescue. Unfortunately for them, there doesn't appear to be any sign of rescue, their plane was off-course before it crashed and a strange creature roars throughout the dense jungle.
The thing that attracted me to Lost in the first instance was the mystery nature of the show. Within the first episode, you are hit with several intriguing mysteries, such as: Who was the convict on the airplane? How did a certain animal get onto the island? What is the monster in the jungle and the biggest question, which is the last line of dialogue of the pilot, "Guys, Where are we?"
However, there are some brilliant character moments which instantly help you identify and love the large cast of survivors. This Season in particular focuses on our survivors and builds up their history through 'flashbacks' which cut back to events before the plane crash, ensuring that the action of the island events is given some relevance against past memories of one of the survivors. Some of the characters have very interesting pasts, filled with enough mystery as the events on the island.
The cast of characters is pretty eclectic with a vast range of races, genders and classes amongst them. We have Boone & Shannon (the rich brats), Sawyer (a southern rogue), Jack (the brave Doctor), John Locke (the mysterious hunter), Kate (the feisty female), Michael & Walt (father & son), Sun & Jin (troubled Asian couple), Hurley (jolly everyman), Charlie (ex-Rockstar) and Claire (a very pregnant single mum). These characters are all well-written and the situation they are in allows us to grow to like and trust them, as they grow to like and trust each other. Out of all the Seasons, this is the one that spends time in developing these people, with later Seasons focusing somewhat more on the mysteries of the Island.
The action picks up in the middle of the Season, with the introduction of plot twist after plot twist, always leading to more questions than answers! Each episode has a strong enough cliff-hanger to tempt you to skip along to the next episode, and once you finish a disk, a screen full of questions pops up to recap some of the unsolved mysteries.
This box set contains the first 24 episodes of this series, with numerous commentaries from cast & writers on specific episodes, which are definitely worth listening to as they often drop hints for some of the key mysteries of the show. There are lots of bonus features and Easter eggs on these discs, but my favourites were the photos taken by Matthew Fox (Jack), which he narrates, and the Audition tapes, showcasing the actors sometimes playing other roles. One of the bonus features exclusive to Blu-Ray is the ability to Season-Play, meaning that you can start from the first episode of the Season and the Blu-Ray will remember where you are, regardless of whether you switch discs or not.
This is a tricky show to review, as some of the best moments are better experienced without prior knowledge. This is a truly shocking show, with some of the best twists experienced in Television. There might be some moments of frustration when some of the more intense questions go unanswered, but if you are a fan of smart-writing and complex storylines, this first season of LOST is a must-have!
I recently hired the full Season 1 DVD box set of the well-known TV show "Lost" which you can buy from all good DVD stockists. It currently sells on www.amazon.co.uk for around £11, or www.play.com for around the same price. (Info as @ March 2012).
* THE PLOT *
Jack awakens, aware of pain and chaos. Hearing screams and other immense noise coming from somewhere close-by, he struggles to his feet and staggers through trees and jungle greenery to find where the noise is coming from. Finding himself on a beach a few seconds later, he is immediately aware that something terrible has happened here, something disastrous and unthinkable. Looking around through the smoke, he can see many injured people are in the close vicinity - some are collapsed and others are bleeding heavily. He then turns and realises the cause of such devastation....
With a rush of realisation, Jack remembers that the plane he was travelling on has crashed, and he starts to recall the chaotic events leading up to the plane's destruction mid-air. Finding his doctor's instinct kicking in, he puts his own anguish to one side and sets about helping some of the other wounded passengers, giving emergency aid to those who need it the most.
As the days progress, Jack and the other 47 passengers from the wrecked plane find themselves in completely unfamiliar surroundings, with only scavenged goods from the plane to help them in their imminent survival. Pinning their hopes on a rescue mission at first, it soon becomes apparent that some of the castaways are more difficult to get along with than others, although none of them would intentionally cause harm to the rest of the group..... Would they..?
* MY OPINION *
I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Lost when I watched it recently. I had not seen the complete first season before, having only caught the odd episode once or twice when it was shown on TV a few years back and so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I think the fact that I had an open mind helped me to fully enjoy the whole experience of watching such an intriguing show as Lost, and given that I have heard several people criticising the show and mocking it even, I am glad that I was able to block out these critics and judge it all for myself.
The box set that I hired contains 25 episodes, which are split over 7 individual discs, called 'Volumes' in this particular box set. My favourite episode by far is actually the Pilot, which is fairly surprising, given that my past experiences of watching American-made TV drama shows have led me to believe that the Pilot episode is often fairly weak and doesn't properly represent the premise of the TV show. In the case of Lost however, I thought that the Pilot - which is actually two full episodes - was spectacularly engaging, gripping my attention from the first minute until the end credits rolled. Given the dramatic main plot and storyline surrounding the show, this is perhaps to be expected, but I really thought that the sequences within these two opening episodes made a fantastic foundation for the remainder of the season to be laid upon.
The dynamic relationships between most of the main characters leads the plot into many twists and turns throughout the whole season. We are only shown mere 'snippets' of the characters' everyday lives and are allowed only a glimpse of their personalities, so many assumptions need to be made by the viewer throughout. This then adds to the suspense of the on-screen goings-on and we find that many of the assumptions we have made earlier turn out to be completely incorrect. I felt that finding these 'twists' and being kept guessing throughout the whole season allowed for a thoroughly enjoyable television series that never faltered or waned as I was continually finding myself facing yet another mysterious chain of events.
The mystery doesn't stop there either. As the season progresses, we learn that all is not what it seems with not only some of the main characters, but with the island where the crash survivors now find themselves. Several discoveries are made which pose yet more danger to the survivors and their lives. There is a mystery to the island itself that is discovered in later episodes, and I felt this added to the whole twist of the plotline. Whilst a sort of "Tale Of The Castaways" television programme would have no doubt been interesting in itself, I liked the fact that the makers and directors decided to add a little more depth into the story instead of making it merely a tale of survival. The 'castaway survival' plots are evident too, but there is so much more to the main body of the story.
The way that the 'mysteries' and little 'snippets' of what 'lay ahead' or the 'troubled past' of certain characters was very much "fed" to the viewing audience in little bite-sized pieces, so that it allowed for the feeling of "building the mystery" piece by piece, like a sort of jigsaw puzzle. This was expertly done by a sort of 'flashback' mode throughout the whole season. We are one minute viewing the 'present day' events that are taking place on the mysterious island, and then we are transported into the lives of the main characters and being allowed to witness their own stories for a short time, before being once again transported back to the island. This method worked very well during the whole season, and particularly because only short 'snippets' of the characters' lives are shown, which added to the overall suspense of the show.
To try and describe this in more detail, I felt that whilst watching the show, we were being given firstly an outside piece, then a small piece for one of the main characters, then a piece to represent the mysterious island, followed by a piece concerning the crashed plane and so on. This allowed the story to come together gradually, and in a staggered fashion and this method allowed an exaggerated building of suspense to be experienced which was thoroughly enjoyable. I didn't find this 'puzzle-building' plot-building method to be at all confusing or misleading, and at no point did I feel the storylines were overly 'jumbled', which may have caused me to get frustrated and switch off.
The thirst to find out what happens next is something that has cleverly been weaved into the storylines alongside the elements of mystery that I touched on earlier. I found that most - if not all - of the episodes ended with a significant 'cliff-hanger' so that I was literally left itching to play the next episode. This fact is perhaps proven by the sheer speed at which my husband and I found ourselves working through the complete box set. I also found that my husband and I would often speculate about what fate would become some of the characters, or what secrets their pasts held.... And on most occasions we were completely wrong! The fact that these discussions were so frequent, and so enjoyable, shows to me how entirely engaging the programme is. And of course, the fantastic double cliff-hanger at the end of the season meant only one thing for us....... "When can we hire Season 2..??
* BONUS FEATURES *
Volume 7 of the box set contains only one episode of the show itself, which is of course episode 25, the final instalment in the first season. The remainder of the disc is filled with bonus features which are set into three sections on the disc menu, namely "Departure", "Tales From The Island" and "Lost Revealed".
I have watched only a couple of these bonus features myself, as I am not particularly wanting to know all the 'secrets' behind the filming of the show, for fear that it ruins any future episodes that I may watch. In case it is of interest to fellow consumers however, I have given a very brief outline of some of the features contained in the sections.
In "Departure" there are four or five options to choose from, ranging from "The Art of Matthew Fox" which is basically the lead actor from the show talking about some shots and scenes that are shown on-screen. Another feature in this section is "Welcome to Oahu" which is a feature about the making of the pilot episodes. I found it quite interesting to hear some of the actors speak about their experiences of the filming, particularly the scenes of the plane destructing and subsequently crashing. We are given a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at how some of the stunts and special effects were created and I found this fairly interesting.
The second section, "Tales From The Island" only has three options to choose from. One of the options is called "Backstage with Driveshaft" which refers to one of the main characters, a musician called Charlie and his band "Driveshaft". I watched the first few minutes of this feature but found it pretty pointless I must confess. The actor who plays Charlie gives a bit of background information about the character and his band.
The final section, "Lost Revealed" contains four options, including "Bloopers From The Set" and "Deleted Scenes". The only feature in this section that I watched was the blooper reel which I found quite amusing, and would recommend giving it a watch. The rest of the bonus features that I glimpsed at seem to be quite good at giving a history into the making of the show and the actors themselves seem to play quite a large part in the features too, so it may well prove to be worthwhile viewing for die-hard fans of the show. For me however, I prefer the mystery to continue...!