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Blu-ray Review: LOST – The Complete Fourth Season

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If you haven’t watched LOST before, turn around immediately and go back. The series is a serialized drama that absolutely needs to be watched from the beginning to get the full impact of its storytelling.

LOST – Season Four continues the adventures of the survivors of Oceanic 815 in one of the most imaginative television series of the decade. It is a drama that combines many genres, including science fiction, adventure, and romance. In the first three seasons, the characters were revealed through flashbacks, each episode focusing on one character; however, at the conclusion Season Three, the creative team presented a shocking flash-forward cliffhanger. In it, Jack states it was a mistake that they left the island, Kate disagrees with him, and someone they know has recently died.

As Season Four opens, Hurley is shown off the island and claims that there are only six survivors of Oceanic 815, but the audience knows different, or do they? A viewer can never be too sure of what they think they know. As the season unfolds, the present-day story of the survivors on the island moves ahead while flash-forwards of the Oceanic Six, as the press within the series dubs them, show where the story is going (or has already gone). During the present-day story, the survivors split into two groups because there is uncertainty about who the people are on the freighter and whether they want to rescue everyone. Jack leads the group hoping to be rescued; Locke leads the group who don’t trust the freighter folk. When the season concludes, the audience understands what is happening with the Six, but other plot threads are naturally unresolved.

LOST is well written, plotted, and acted, and gets points for taking creative chances, which is why I am intrigued by it, but sometimes the story and characters feel forced along by the writers rather than progressing in a natural and believable way. We still haven’t had an explanation as to why Locke had trouble with his legs other than the writers needed a way to kill Boone. Good fiction makes the impossible seem possible, but too often the unbelievable remains just that, which is why I find it to be a good series and just short of a great one. There are very good dramatic moments with the occasional absurdities, like the entire Dharma Initiative thread, thrown in that lessen the show’s overall appeal. At times, the series delves into magic realism, reminiscent of Twin Peaks without the darkness, but it comes across as crutch to help the story along, like the smoke monster.

Some questions do get answered, but others don’t and new ones rise up in their place. We still don’t anymore about the four-toed statue, or why a woman at Hurley’s asylum looked like Libby, or what happened to Mikhail after he blew up the Looking Glass station, or if Locke really blew up the sub, and so on. Will all these be dealt with in the remaining seasons? We will have to wait and see.

The number of episodes for Season Four was shortened from previous seasons to 14, due to a network request for a shorter season as the ratings have been understandably slowly eroding because the show’s structure prohibits new viewers from joining and due to the occurrence of the 2007 Writers’ Strike during filming. There’s a surprise reveal midway through the season that is absolutely ruined because an actor is listed in the credits before he even appears in an episode. Surely, everyone involved knew this would happen, but why it did makes no sense for a team that tries to keep its secrets.

On Blu-ray, Hawaii looks as fantastic as if you were looking out a window. The colors of the blue ocean and the green jungles in particular are amazing. The high definition provides a great amount of texture and detail, revealing the hard work of the production design team. Once you see this show in HD, you won’t be able to go back. It is presented in 1.78:1

The audio is available in 5.1 Uncompressed (48kHz/16-bit) for English. The bulk of the audio is mainly dialogue out the front speakers. Michael Giacchino’s score is an important storytelling device and makes good use of the surround and the subwoofer. The ambient noise, particularly the whispering voices, also use the surround to good effect.

LOST has arguably the most fanatical followers of any current television series, and there’s plenty of features for them watch incessantly for possible clues. There’s an 8:15 recap of the first three seasons. Four episode commentaries on “The Beginning of the End” (actors Evangeline Lilly [Kate] and Jorge Garcia [Hurley]), “The Constant” (editor Mark Goldman, co-creator/exec. producer Damon Lindelof and exec. producer Carlton Cuse), “Ji Yeon” (director Stephen Semel [editor on the series allowed his first chance to direct], actors Daniel Dae Kim [Jin] and Yunjin Kim [Sun], and “There's No Place Like Home: Part 2” (Cruse and Lindelof).

On the separate Features disc, there is “LOST On Location” showcasing behind-the-scenes work on eight episodes; “The Island Backlot: LOST in Hawaii” shows what goes into shooting on the island; “The Right to Bear Arms” looks at the guns used; and “Soundtrack of Survival: Composing For Character, Conflict & The Crash” presents the first-ever live performance of Michael Giacchino’s score by the Honolulu Symphony Pops. Exclusive to Blu-ray, this feature also includes a performance of “The Others Theme,” Terry O’Quinn (Locke) reading messages from a bottle similar to a plot point in the first season, and the impact Giacchino’s music has on the script

Two of the best features are “Course of the Future: The Definitive Flash-Forwards” and “The Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy of Lies.” The latter is a well-crafted faux exposé of the holes in the Oceanic Six’s story. “Course of the Future” is augmented for Blu-ray and offers insider information, script pages, and a very funny intro by the exec. producers “four years ahead.” Before entering, a puzzle has to be solved matching up 10 flash-forward events in chronological order. Then the flash-forwards can be viewed in either chronological order or through one character.

The remaining features include bloopers, deleted scenes, a look at the new characters, how the crew built and shot on the freighter, and “LOST: Missing Pieces,” which are short segments that supplement the series which were accessible first through cell phones (mobisodes) and then available online.  I have to imagine there is an Easter egg or two somewhere.

The Blu-ray also allows for Season Play, a function that keeps track of where you are as you progress through the series and returns you to the right spot, whether turning off the player or switching discs.

At this point, LOST is review-proof. You are either committed or not by Season Four, so it comes down to whether you want to rewatch these episodes again. If so, Blu-ray is certainly the way to go.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS