When Lost began its third season last fall I was beginning to feel a lot like the castaways must have felt; namely I was getting pretty lost watching Lost. There’s been a lot of mostly fair criticism about how ABC has handled the show last year. The first mistake was to air a small portion of episodes in the first couple of months and finish the season after the New Year. While this broken season plan works well for some cable shows like Monk, it does a serious disservice to Lost. I was so confused and burned out with the show after these first episodes, I never did return in February to see how it all played out. After reviewing the ratings numbers for the show, it seems I was not alone in leaving the island. Now with the release of the complete third season on DVD, there was renewed hope that I might be able to piece something coherent together by watching episodes in large chunks of marathon sittings. The result was the show was a little easier to follow but not much. Now don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the complicated plots and long detailed stories the show has been able to tell. Like the rest of the show’s fans, I enjoyed following the sparse trail of breadcrumbs and reveled in each new discovery in spite of the fact that each new answer also brought along five new questions as companions. Still, the third season of Lost was arguably its worst.
The season began with Jack (Fox), Sawyer (Holloway), and Kate (Lilly) held captive by the mysterious Others. This strange group has been the subject of great speculation over the first two years, and I have to admit they didn’t live up to all of the hype. The first episodes are almost entirely about the Others, and this makes them far more ordinary than I was prepared to believe they were. The trio are forced to work for these Others, and we are completely pulled off track with Kate and Sawyer doing the nasty. While Sawyer and Kate are kept doing mostly hard labor, Jack is being forced to care for and operate on the group’s dying leader. Jack ends up emotionally attached to Juliet (Mitchell), one of the Others. When we are finally allowed some time with the rest of the core castaways, the show does improve. I was very happy to see a lot of screen time granted to Henry Ian Cusick’s Desmond character. He’s certainly the most colorful and enjoyable newer character on the show. His character arc is tied closely with rock legend Charlie (Monaghan). We do finally get a better idea about the covert Dharma group and what might have been going on on the island earlier. In the by now traditional flashback segments we learn even more about the main characters and, of course, discover many more strings that link them together even before their ill-fated flight. There is even a flash-forward segment where we’ll learn that at least Jack and Kate make it back to the world someday.
The long and short of the season is that it was an abrupt change from the previous two. Perhaps it was an attempt to shake the audience out of its complacency, if we ever had it to begin with. The season reminded me of the X-Files episodes that were too heavy on the show’s mythology. While so many fans ate that stuff up, there were episodes where the weight of all of these conspiracies brought the entire thing down. These episodes plodded through conspiracy speak and left many of us shaking our heads afterwards. That’s how I felt after the initial run of Lost last year. It’s obvious there is a greater plan here, and the producers have pretty much admitted that much. This is the year that Lost jumped the shark. The question is, can it return to what made it great in time to bring back the viewers who left last year. This set makes me want to give it another shot, but the show better move along much better from the beginning in 2008.
Each episode of Lost is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The transfers are on the average pretty good. The colors are certainly tight, particularly the greens of the wilderness and the ocean blue-greens. There are times when grain is a little too heavy. The opening episodes where the captives are in the animal cages is a good example. Flesh tones are rather remarkable and are absolutely reference. Black levels are good, providing a nice array of shadow detail throughout.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is pretty sweet. While most of the sound is dialog, handled perfectly, there are brilliant moments when creepy jungle sounds or rain do a remarkable job of surrounding you with the show’s action. It wasn’t hard at all to lose myself in the mix. There weren’t the tremendous subs I expected, but there are moments enough to at least remind me they are there..
Cast In Clay: Creating The Toys Of Todd McFarlane: The cast and crew brainstorm with the folks who make the Lost toy line. Who wouldn’t think it’s cool to have toys that look like you?
The Next Level – Inside The Video Game: It’s a law buried somewhere in the fine print of our Constitution that any successful film or television show MUST have a video game adaptation. This is more or less a sneak peak at the Lost game.
Crew Tribute With Evangeline Lilly: Lilly pays tribute to the various important behind the scenes folks who help make Lost what it is.
Lost In A Day: This is one of those video journal styled presentations. It takes you hour by hour through a typical work day on Lost. From transportation to meals, the minutia of the Lost set are sorted out in this 25 minute feature.
The World Of The Others: The Others are the subject of speculation and conversation with various cast and crew from Lost. While you really won’t learn much here, it is amusing to hear so many differing ideas as to what they “might” be.
Terry O’Quinn – Throwing From The Handle: O’Quinn demonstrates his knife throwing prowess in this short feature. The piece comes complete with a “Do Not Attempt” disclaimer for the idiots in the audience.
Blooper Reel: Mostly a lot of laughing and joking around.
Deleted Scenes: There are 9 scenes cut from the series. You can view them all at once with play all or pick out the ones you wish.
The Orchid Instructional Film: An unedited version of the Dharma film is here so you can watch it on its own.
Here’s the deal. If you are not already a fan who has followed the first two seasons, do not buy this set. You will become hopelessly lost and frustrated. You really need to start at the beginning or not at all. Even then you will not find this set all that easy to follow. If you were, like me, disenchanted enough to leave in the middle last year, you should pick up the set; in fact, you must if you have any hope of rejoining the fold next year. I promise it will make a bit more sense when viewed as a whole. Will it solve all of those complicated problems for you? “I’m afraid it’s not that simple.”