L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz


Introduction: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

The LensView Home Theatre:




Lost: The Complete Fourth Season (The Expanded Experience) [Blu-ray]


(Jack Bender, Stephen Williams, et al, 2008)







Review by Leonard Norwitz




Blu-ray: Buena Vista Home Entertainment



Region: A

Runtime: 604 min

Chapters: 14

Size: 50 GB

Case: Expanded Amaray Blu-ray case w/ flip-pages and slipcover

Release date: December 9th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC



English 5.1 Uncompressed (48kHz/16-bit). English & French DD 5.1 Surround; Spanish 2.0 DD



English SDH, French Spanish



• Lost in 8:15

• Audio Commentaries on 4 Episodes

• The Freighter Folk (12:40)

• The Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy of Lies (21:16)

• Offshore Shoot (7:50)

• Soundtrack of Survival: Composing for Character, Conflict and The Crash (26:21)

• Lost on Location (41:54)

• Lost: Missing Pieces: 11 Mobisodes (31:22)

• The Right to Bear Arms (11:15)

• 9 Deleted Scenes (9:11)

• Lost Bloopers (3:22)

• Exclusive to Blu-ray:

• Course of the Future: The Definitive Flash-Forwards (Game)

• More from the Symphony (16:07)

• SeasonPlay



The Film:

I was listening to a recorded preview of the Second Season of Lost by NPR Fresh Air critic David Bianculli this morning where he came out with a couple of factoids: the first was that complete TV seasons accounted for some 25% of all DVDs sold. I assume he meant in the U.S. and not counting porno – but even granting this, it was a remarkable statistic in the Fall of 2006, pre-HD video. The other comment he made was that there are many people out there who don't watch series episodes as the networks present them but, instead, wait for the DVD and watch them that way, thus taking advantage of all the extra features. Blu-ray makes this strategy all the more enticing since the image is just that much better than broadcast. I don't know what portion of sales Blu-ray has of simultaneously released TV seasons, but a show like Lost, which takes advantage of the medium as few do, ought to be sizable. At this writing, the DVD ranks #53 in sales at Amazon and the Blu-ray, 373, which should tell us something when you consider the ratio of DVD-to-Blu-ray owners has be greater than 7:1.

The Season : 7
For those who watch the show as aired, no synopsis is necessary; for those who wait for the video, none is warranted; and for those who haven’t yet become addicted, suffice to say that the series is a mind-bending mix of science fiction and “Survivor.” In an effort to say as little as possible, what we do know by the end of Season 3 is that Locke is more convinced than ever that rescue is a bad idea and has knifed the recently arrived Naomi in the back to demonstrate his commitment to that idea. As the first episodes of the new season unfold, Locke manages to divide the survivors into those that agree with him and those that don’t. While Lock’s group retreats into hiding, the latter group, under Jack’s leadership, continues to try to make contact with the offshore freighter as more of Naomi’s group parachute onto the island.



Image: 9/9
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Coming, as I do, from the vinyl era, I am predisposed to assuming that the original presentation of a thing is the best: the first pressings of the first mastering from the original tapes usually represent the closest thing to the performance as recorded. Well, this is simply not the case when it comes to broadcast material, which is either 1080i or 720i. Despite the compression factor of Blu-ray, the disc comes out ahead. This Blu-ray of Lost 4 is among the better looking live action images I've seen so far. Bit rates are dynamic but average in the mid-20s.














Audio & Music: 8/8
As with Season 3 there is plenty of natural and unnatural island ambiance to convey, along with various city noises in the flashback or flash forward sequences, dialogue, gunfire and explosions. It's all there: clearly and dynamically. Sometimes it's hard to keep in perspective that this is "just a TV show" as we bathe in the production values that went into it. Michael Giacchino’s suspenseful and atmospheric score is given its due in the extra features: a full concert presentation.


Operations: 7
As I compared my notes from the Blu-ray of Season 3, I find myself once again thankful that I got rid of my Sony BDP S300 in favor of the PS3: loading and access to menu functions is tortoise and hare revisited. The box is of a design similar to Season 3, with the much-hated flip pages (which, just to be disagreeable, did not break in shipping) whose pages do not flip easily - hideous design, really. As I wrote a year ago about the case for Season 3: These sorts of Blu-ray cases seem cheaply made and give me the feeling that the whole thing is about to fall apart at any moment, unlike their DVD counterparts. This is not a fault with Buena Vista or ABC, particularly as these cases are standard fare for other multi-disc sets, such as Planet Earth and Prison Break. The industry seems to have settled on mediocre packaging for their high definition product, as if they have learned nothing useful from over ten years of DVD case design experiments.




Extras: 8
Considering that the previous season ate up a considerable amount of Extra Feature possibilities it is all the more remarkable that this video edition has come up with as many interesting bits as it has. The Lost in 8:15 reprise in eight minutes, fifteen seconds is almost worth the price of admission for the set: it is informative and drool, self-aware and self-spoofing. Brilliant!

On the other hand, two points off for not offering the bonus feature of the concert score of Lost in uncompressed audio. It's such an obvious - dare I say, necessary – move, it astonishes me that this is not done routinely when music is the focus of the extra feature at hand.

An extra feature new to the video sets of this show is: Course of the Future: The Definitive Flash-Forwards which tests your knowledge of the flash forward timeline and projects it into alternate future possibilities. The Lost: Missing Pieces are 11 “mobisodes,” running between about one and a half to three and a half minutes that fill in narrative gaps in the timeline of the first three seasons. Released on ABC.com more or less in the hiatus before Season 4 aired, they are now presented in pretty good quality 1080i on this Blu-ray, as are all the extra features for Season 4.

There are four commentaries for this season’s Blu-ray set, each offered by a different group of relevant contributors. As in the past, these tend to be a combination of reminiscences, production details and fleshing out of story context and/or projections:
At the Beginning of the End: Evangeline Lilly & Jorge Garcia.
The Constant: Editor Mark Goldman, Co-creator Damon Lindelof & Executive Producer Carlton Cuse.
Ji Yeon: Director Stephen Semel, Actors Daniel Dae Kim & Yun Jin Kim.
No Place Like Home, part 2: Executive Producers Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof.



Bottom line: 9
A stunning image, excellent sound, the usual suspects and some new ones, with and without beards, on the island and not. I still wonder how their clothes manage to hold up after all this time. I suppose it’s another perk of living on the island. Stretches of plausibility are default, but who cares: the scenery is stunning and the characters fascinating. Highly recommended for fans of the series.

Leonard Norwitz
November 30th, 2008










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