9/24/2005

DVD: Lost - The Complete First Season (2004)

Along with Desperate Housewives, Lost was one of the two breakout shows in the fall of 2004. Mixing suspense and action with a sci-fi twist, it began with a thrilling pilot episode in which a jetliner traveling from Australia to Los Angeles crashes, leaving 48 survivors on an unidentified island with no sign of civilization or hope of imminent rescue. That may sound like Gilligan's Island meets Survivor, but Lost kept viewers tuning in every Wednesday night--and spending the rest of the week speculating on Web sites--with some irresistible hooks (not to mention the beautiful women). First, there's a huge ensemble cast of no fewer than 14 regular characters, and each episode fills in some of the back story on one of them. There's a doctor; an Iraqi soldier; a has-been rock star; a fugitive from justice; a self-absorbed young woman and her brother; a lottery winner; a father and son; a Korean couple; a pregnant woman; and others. Second, there's a host of unanswered questions: What is the mysterious beast that lurks in the jungle? Why do polar bears and wild boars live there? Why has a woman been transmitting an SOS message in French from somewhere on the island for the last 16 years? Why do impossible wishes seem to come true? Are they really on a physical island, or somewhere else? What is the significance of the recurring set of numbers? And will Kate ever give up her bad-boy fixation and hook up with Jack?

Lost did have some hiccups during the first season. Some plot threads were left dangling for weeks, and the "oh, it didn't really happen" card was played too often. But the strong writing and topnotch cast kept the show a cut above most network TV. The best-known actor at the time of the show's debut was Dominic Monaghan, fresh off his stint as Merry the Hobbit in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films. The rest of the cast is either unknowns or "where I have I seen that face before" supporting players, including Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly, who are the closest thing to leads. Other standouts include Naveen Andrews, Terry O'Quinn (who's made a nice career out of conspiracy-themed TV shows), Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, Yunjin Kim, Maggie Grace, and Emilie de Ravin, but there's really not a weak link in the cast. Co-created by J.J. Abrams (Alias), Lost left enough unanswered questions after its first season to keep viewers riveted for a second season. --David Horiuchi

572 of 667 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars An absolutely astonishing debut season, May 31, 2005

Reviewer: Robert W. Moore (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews

It is too early to state for certain just how good LOST is compared to the great shows in television history, but by the highest possible standards its first season has to stand out as one of the great seasons in the history of the medium. Season One of LOST was not merely good but great television, and not merely great television but great narrative storytelling. But the impact of LOST goes completely beyond its aesthetic success. Along with another show on ABC (albeit one that I do not care for), DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, LOST has managed to cause the prodigiously stupid television execs to realize that there is a huge demand for quality scripted television. After years of an endless string of simply awful reality shows, all of the networks suddenly want shows that are written ahead of time and feature casts of actual actors. Although final schedules have not yet been announced, it looks as if the 2005-2006 season is going to have both a dramatic decrease in reality shows and an increase in scripted shows. The stunning success of LOST has played a major role in this sea change.

We have in recent years seen genre shows that were huge hits with critics and managed to generate a passionate cult following. Probably no show was more critically praised than BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (with hordes of high brow critics preferring it to more respectable hit series like THE SOPRANOS), but at its peak it managed only a small audience. LOST has generated critical praise almost as strong as BUFFY, a core of fans nearly as passionate, but unlike BUFFY managed absolutely stunning ratings. It is one of the few instances in recent television history where what is arguably the best show on TV also managed among the strongest ratings. In fact, LOST would be considered a cult show based on the number of websites that it has inspired and the passion of the fans, except that the ratings instead make it a mainstream hit.

Who would have thought that a series dealing with plane crash survivors on a most unusual island would have been this successful? Before it debuted I remember people joking that it sounded like GILLIGAN'S ISLAND without the humor. But it ended up matching or surpassing the most optimistic expecations, in quality as well as in ratings.

Amazon.com: DVD: Lost - The Complete First Season (2004)

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