3 1/2 stars out of 4
Where do I even begin, now that we're reviewing the fourth season of one of television's most mind-bending dramas ever? Fans are familiar with the Gordian plotline and I won't spoil it for anyone gearing up to jump in, but in watching the very first bonus feature, the "Lost in 8:15" high-speed recap of Seasons One thru Three, I was reminded just how much we have been shown about the strange events since our cast of characters crash-landed on the uncharted Pacific island, which may or may not be alive/man-made/an alien, etc.
At the same time, this is a prolonged journey (two years to go) with no clear, final explanations in sight, but I--like so many others--am too invested in the show to quit now. As a consequence however, the networks are finding new series with potentially multi-year story arcs falling out of favor with viewers: Is one Lost all that audiences can handle?
The writers work with a very precise structure, and certain information had to be conveyed during a truncated season that dropped a couple of episodes (what, no off-island tales of popular anti-hero Sawyer?) due to the writer's strike, and so the pacing here is brisk, in contrast to some of the more meandering stretches past. Building upon last year's finale twist, revealed in the final moment as the first-ever "flash forward" beyond the rescue of a handful of castaways (Lost is renowned for its inspired use of flashbacks to the character's lives before the island), we were given a cheeky "When are we?" mix of timeline hopping that forced us to pay close attention. As if we wouldn't anyway...
I wasn't able to watch Lost in high-definition when it originally aired on ABC (I was stuck in standard def DirecTV limbo at the time), so these discs are a step up from what I remember. Apart from the 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio with its sweeping tropical island vistas, the real beneficiaries of the increased detail are the actors' faces: This is a talented lot, and every nuance of expression (and every crow's foot) is laid bare in the many, many close-ups.
I found other little surprises too, like being able to read the inscription on the bottom of Kate's Dharma Initiative coffee cup in one scene ("mainstays, Made in China"). The news isn't all good however, as digital haze plagues the image across all episodes, in soft-focus areas of the frame, in shadow, and on difficult textures like stucco walls. Attentive viewers might already have a sense of this problem from one of the oft-seen Lost promo shots (Locke and Charlie looking down into a crater) during the Disney Blu-ray trailer that appears on most of their Blu-ray discs.
The makers of Lost lavish more care on their soundtrack than their peers do for most of what we see (and hear) on the small screen, and the Season Four episode "Meet Kevin Johnson" even won an Emmy for its mixing, this in addition to several other nominations over the years. The season opens with a loud car chase full of screeching tires, with helicopters flying overhead and all around us. Over the next ten hours we're subjected to crashes, explosions, 360-degree rain, thunder, jungle birds/insects and general weirdness, including what can only be described as "the voices of the island."
Through it all, Michael Giacchino's one-of-a-kind musical score weaves in sometimes imperceptibly, other times urgently, and every other way in between. I opted into the uncompressed linear PCM 5.1 track (the discs default to Dolby Digital) and was further impressed by the subtlety afforded by the high resolution: Voices can even take on different characteristics depending upon the environment in which the characters are speaking. Top-notch sound, particularly for a TV show.
Audio commentaries are provided on first and last episodes plus two more; from actors, producers, an editor and one of the series' directors. Disc Five is all extras, with separate high-def featurettes that explore the weaponry used in the show, the new characters and their floating set brought in for Season Four, and the Hawaiian shooting locations, plus a faux documentary about the dubious claims of the six apparent island survivors.
We're also given an extended glimpse of a live concert of Giacchino's score, with extra music exclusive to Blu-ray. The set also includes bloopers, nine deleted scenes, and 13 "mobisodes" that fill in some offscreen moments, after the fact. "The Course of the Future: The Definitive Interactive Flash Forwards" goes further on Blu-ray than on the DVD: After we complete a game of organizing key scenes (it's more time-consuming than difficult, and it checks our results as we progress), we unlock a roughly one-hour presentation of the flash forwards in chronological order, with or without onscreen script excerpts. We can also choose a specific character and follow his/her path, helping to make sense of the different timelines and to set us up for Seasons Five and Six.
A lot happened in Season Four. I can't say I understand it all, but I can study the evidence all over again, in high-def and uncompressed 5.1. And if that doesn't unlock the mystery, the bonus features will surely shed some light. Right...?
Where to Buy:
Lost The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray - Amazon.com
Actors: Naveen Andrews, Henry Ian Cusick, Jeremy Davies, Emilie de Ravin, Michael Emerson, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia, Josh Holloway, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Ken Leung, Evangeline Lilly, Rebecca Mader, Elizabeth Mitchell, Terry O'Quinn
Director: Jack Bender, Stephen Williams, Eric Laneuville, Stephen Semel, Paul A. Edwards
Audio/Languages: Uncompressed Linear PCM 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French) , Dolby Digital 2.0 (English, Spanish, Portuguese)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Bahasa, Malay
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 5
Rating: TV-14 (LV)
Studio: ABC Studios/WDSHE
Release Date: December 9, 2008
Run Time: 604 minutes
List Price: $96.99
"Lost in 8:15"
The Right to Bear Arms
The Freigher Folk
"The Island Backlot: Lost in Hawaii"
"The Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy of Lies"
"Soundtrack of Survival: Composing for Character, Conflict & the Crash"
"Lost on Location"
"Lost: Missing Pieces"
"Course of the Future: The Definitive Interactive Flash Forwards"