Friday, March 03, 2006

Lost - Season 1 Review

US Airdate on ABC: September 22nd 2004 to May 25th 2005.

Fourteen passengers find themselves deserted on an island when their plane, Flight 815 crashes. Far from civilisation and help, the people must not only learn how to survive on this island and with each other but soon become privy that their new home is far from what is appears to be …

Uncharted Territory And I Ain’t Talking Farscape Here … With The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel gone, Smallville and Alias relegated to the sidelines and the Stargate franchise, along with The Dead Zone and Star Trek: Enterprise feeling more than a little stagnate, genre television for US viewers was not looking good, even if unlike the UK, it was at least still going somewhere. The biggest show in 2004-2005 US television and likely to make a good effort to retain that title, Lost crash landed onto our screen and into the public subconscious like a veritable tornado and boy, it’s been amazing. The first few minutes of the “Pilot” opened up the idea of television equating the epic scale of movies but unlike anything from HBO, this was something that we were watching on ABC, a station that has now seen it’s ratings sky rocket ever since. A plane crash so severe and with no hope of help rescuing, the writers needed to work overtime in order to prevent this series from turning into a dramatised version of Survivor. Employ Alias creator J.J Abrams, the self confessed geek Damon Lindelof and add an ensemble of writers from shows likes Buffy, Angel, The X-Files and Six Feet Under to name but four and an array of eclectic but competent cast members and watch this puppy run. The idea of making the island a mysterious and dangerous land is inspired and as original as Lost strives to be, you always get a feeling that it’s at times eerily reminiscent of Twin Peaks or Lord Of The Flies, which is never a bad thing. Although there are 48 passengers and crew members, the first season only focuses on fourteen of them for the time. Matthew Fox plays the heroic Jack, while veteran cult actor Terry O’Quinn excels as the mysterious John Locke. There is also a pregnant girl named Claire (Emile De Ravin), an Iraqi named Sayid (Naveen Andrews), failed rock musician/drug addled Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), quarrelling brother/sister combo Boone and Shannon (Ian Somerhalder and Maggie Grace), a cursed billionaire named Hurley (Jorge Garcia), criminal Kate (Evangeline Lilly), con man Sawyer (Josh Holloway), distant father/son duo Michael and Walt (Harold Perrineau and Malcolm David Kelly) and Korean husband/wife Jin and Sun (Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim). The characters themselves are certainly a very varied bunch and the lives and past actions which are told through flashback per episode have the quality of being surprising or disappointing, given how invested you are to a particular person. For instance, I thought domestic violence whenever I watched Jin and Sun interact only for episodes six and seventeen (“House Of The Rising Sun” and “In Translation”) to contradict my perceptions and although I started the show actively hating Sawyer, his complicated past in “Confidence Man” and “Outlaws” does generate some sympathy for the guy, although the flashbacks for Jack, Kate and especially Charlie are a little hit and miss at times. Mostly the flashbacks are interesting enough (though less savvy critics have griped about them adding nothing to the series), sometimes even more than the group’s weekly escapades of dealing with each other, trying to learn more of the mysteries of the island, such as polar bears, an unseen monsters that can tear trees down or even a group of other inhabitants that have been on the island for over sixteen years. If there is one thing Lost loves, it’s piling on the mysteries, so much that not much in the way of answers is actually given. The latter half of the season has Boone and Locke trying to open a mysterious hatch, only for Boone to die (the show’s first real fatality) and the mystery to be left for Season Two’s opening episode and even Claire’s abduction by The Others is another unresolved matter. At first you think her baby is an Omen, then it appears to be Walt. The Others are a puzzle as while they have killed people from Flight 815, the crazy French woman (brilliantly played by Mira Furlan) doesn’t appear to be evil either, so you have to wonder if they are just misguided or not. The highlights from this unforgettable debut year is obviously going to the “Pilot” as well as the Emmy nominated Locke centre-piece “Walkabout” but there’s also the brilliant Sayid episode “Solitary”, the gut wrenching Jack showcase (island story being more addictive than flashback tale here) “All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues” and Sawyer’s turning point instalment “Outlaws”, which firmly makes me think that him and Kate are better than a Jack/Kate union. Hurley, a character who seems to be universally loved by all has a brilliant episode in “Numbers” and the tragic outcome for poor Boone in “Deux Ex Machina” and “Do No Harm” is unmissable as is the wonderful, if slightly anticlimactic three part finale “Exodus”. We should have guessed that any attempts of getting off the island were doomed from the start but this finale did give some wonderful flashbacks, an introduction to Season Two regular Ana-Lucia (Michelle Rodriguez) and the anticipation to learn what is down the mysterious hatch is massive.

DVD Features … Forget the bloody island. The real gargantuan is the array of extras on offer with this box-set. I wisely eschewed the half season box-sets originally released for Region 2 buyers and waited until January 2006 for the full season and the seven discs on display offered me loads. Disc 1 has commentaries for both parts of the “Pilot” with Abrams and Damon Lindelof and the sensational “Walkabout”, which has added anecdotes from Locke actor Terry O’Quinn while Disc 2 offers a decent commentary for the lacklustre “The Moth” with Charlie actor Dominic Monaghan, following our last yak track with actors Ian Somerhalder and Maggie Grace, plus writers Carlton Cuse and Javier Grillo-Marxuach on the so-so “Hearts And Minds”. With the exception of episode seven, the episodes that feature commentaries are ones you want to hear and learn more about but why there aren’t ones for “Numbers”, “Do No Harm” and the “Exodus” three-parter is beyond me. Disc 7 is where all the essential extras are though and these range from on set productions of the “Pilot”, “House Of The Rising Sun”, “The Moth”, “Whatever The Case May Be”, “Hearts And Minds”, “Outlaws” and “Exodus”. These are all brilliant but your patience may be tested if you try watching every single extra in one night (a mistake I won’t make again). There is a smattering of deleted scenes from over half the episodes of the first season, most of which are pretty average but ones that standout include Shannon dissing Drive Shaft, Locke trying to figure Kate out, Sayid telling Hurley and Charlie to mind their own business and a scene between Claire and the savagely eaten Pilot from the finale at the airport. Other brilliant extras including watching audition tapes from the cast and Abrams and company musing on the origins of the show in The Genesis Of Lost, though to be realistic, it covers nothing most viewers haven’t heard of before. The best feature is Matthew Fox’s photography of the making of the first episode with a warm presentation through the fifteen minute special while the Lost cast interviews at various conventions is a geek treat. The only features that don’t work as well are a rather silly spoof with an ABC host, a boring feature on Drive Shaft, who I’m still convinced are more akin to Busted or McFly rather than Oasis or Radiohead. There’s also a gag reel, which feels a little staged at times but other than that, fans and DVD lovers have a lot to revel in with this release. It’s nice that the cast feature heavily in proceedings as they certainly add a lot to the extras in question.


1x01: Pilot Part 1 = 9/10,1x02: Pilot Part 2 = 8/10,
1x03: Tabula Rasa = 7/10,1x04: Walkabout = 10/10,
1x05: White Rabbit = 9/10,1x06: House Of The Rising Sun = 8/10,
1x07: The Moth = 6/10, 1x08: Confidence Man = 8/10,
1x09: Solitary = 9/10, 1x10: Raised By Another = 8/10,
1x11: All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues = 9/10,
1x12: Whatever The Case May Be = 6/10,
1x13: Hearts And Minds = 7/10, 1x14: Special = 7/10,
1x15: Homecoming = 6/10, 1x16: Outlaws = 9/10,
1x17: In Translation = 8/10, 1x18: Numbers = 9/10,
1x19: Deux Ex Machina = 9/10, 1x20: Do No Harm = 10/10,
1x21: The Greater Good = 8/10, 1x22: Born To Run = 7/10,
1x23: Exodus Part 1 = 10/10,1x24: Exodus Part 2 = 9/10, 1x25: Exodus Part 3 = 9/10

Season One is currently available on DVD.

No comments: