I picked up the Lost Season 1 DVD last night and gave it a quick once-over. Lost junkies have probably already run out and gotten their own copies, but in case you're on the fence about whether to spend your hard-earned cash, here are a few things to consider:
- The episodes are presented in their original widescreen aspect ratio. As a cheap bastard who has yet to buy a fancy-schmancy next generation television, it's nice to be able to watch the episodes as they were meant to be seen; that is, scrunched into the middle of the screen between two thick black bars. If I ever buy a decent set, though, I'm sure it will be really cool.
- In a startling break with tradition, the special features are actually not utter crap. I haven't had time to pore through them all -- the box claims over eight hours of odds and ends -- but what I have checked out has been mostly excellent.
The nearly thirty minute long documentary on the making of the pilot episode is fascinating stuff, taking you from the inception of the show through the construction of the crash site set (that's a real L1011 they tore apart and reassembled), casting and filming. It culminates with the ceremonial burning of JJ Abrams' apparently cursed shorts; a futile gesture at best, since everybody knows that all cursed Hawaii items must be returned to Vincent Price's cave.
The other featurettes are almost as compelling, and give a remarkable amount of insight into the technical details that go into a massive production like Lost. Tons of cast and crew interviews and on-the-set footage make it clear that somebody spent a great deal of time and loving care documenting the making of the show.
The deleted scenes are sparse and, as is usually the case, pretty disposable. But then, I suppose that's why they're deleted scenes.
The only real downside to all of these goodies is that they do tend to leave you with the impression that the creators made up a lot of the show's mythos as they went along. This will probably not sit well with those who fear that Lost isn't sure exactly where it's going with all its various plot threads and unexplained phenomena.
- Since this is a new release, most stores currently are selling it very cheaply. I picked mine up from the local Wal-Mart at 34 bucks. That's seventeen hours of the best television in recent memory at a bargain basement rate of two stinkin' bucks an hour. To put this in perspective, you'd pay the same amount to buy a double feature of Catwoman and White Chicks.
- The presentation is clever enough, showing off the various cool set pieces that have been featured on the show. On the special features disc, for instance, we see a close-up of the hatch as it glows ominously behind the main menu. Inexplicably, however, as light from the hatch darkens, so does the menu, until you can't even read the damned thing. I hope I don't need to explain to anybody that this is a pretty dumb design.
- A quick warning for those who, like me, have a Byzantine bird's nest of cables and equipment that support their television habit. I originally intended to watch this DVD on the set in the master bedroom, but when I try to play the disc on that equipment, the picture bobs and weaves and changes contrast, and would probably induce a seizure after about two minutes of viewing.
This problem may simply be the result of cruddy equipment, but I suspect otherwise. Because the television in that room suffers from a deficiency of RCA inputs, I've had to run the DVD player into the inputs of the VCR. Everything looked fine on the DVD player downstairs, which runs directly to the TV. So I'm betting that the cause of my grief is some typically idiotic form of copy protection, probably Macrovision. This has doubtless prevented no one from propagating bootleg digital copies through peer-to-peer networks and BitTorrent, but it did prevent me from watching my legitimately purchased original.
Anyway if you've got a convoluted setup, be sure to hang on to that receipt.