L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

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

Lost: The Complete Second Season (The Extended Experience) [Blu-ray]

 

(Jack Bender, Stephen Williams, et al, 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical:

Blu-ray: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: All

Runtime: 17 hrs.

Chapters: 23

Size: 50 GB

Case: Expanded Blu-ray case w/double-sided flippages & slipcover

Release date: June 16, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ 30 Mbps

 

Audio:

English 5.1 Uncompressed (48kHz/16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English & French Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital

 

Extras:

• Episode Commentaries by executive producers Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Bryan Burk, Jack Bender; director Paul Edwards, director of photography Michael Bonvillain and co-stars Evangeline Lilly, Yunjim Kim and Daniel Dae Kim, and writers Elizabeth Sarnoff and Christina M. Kim

• Lost Flashbacks

• The Official Lost Connections

• Secrets from the Hatch

• Lost on Location

• Fire + Water: Anatomy Of An Episode

• The World According to Sawyer

• Channel 4 UK promo directed by David LaChapelle

• Deleted scenes

• Lost Bloopers

 

 

The Film:

Beginning with the Second Season, Lost demonstrates consistently the highest image and audio quality, especially when we consider this is "only" a TV show. Whether you've seen this series on TV broadcast, or TIVO or on DVD, nothing compares to the Blu-ray experience in terms of picture or sound.

 

 


As with the DVD edition, six episodes are extended from their nominal broadcast length of 43:30 by from 1:30 to 3:35.

The Series : 10
For those three or four of you who have been and may still be lost in television's wasteland rather than lost on the Island, here's the deal: Oceanic Airlines flight 815 has just come apart in the sky above a remote and, as we come to find out, uncharted island in the South Pacific. A few dozen survivors try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives as they hold out hope for a rescue. A few days into their stay (which, by the way, is weeks, not years, by the end of the fourth season), they learn two very important things: they are not alone on this island, and the island itself has strange, even miraculous properties that affect both their health and their perception of time.

It is this last feature that becomes the structure for the series, as each episode fleshes out one or more of the survivors in flashback while, at the same time, advancing their adventures on the island. It isn't letting any cats out of bags to divulge that beginning with season four, there are both flash-forwards and backs as the idea is made clear (especially through Desmond) that time is of the essence.

The remarkable thing about Lost is how it takes its time to reveal itself and its characters. (The "Others," who share the island with the Survivors, don't even reveal themselves until the end of the second season.) On the one hand, we get to know our adventurers only in fragments that, save a familiar music cue, appear without warning throughout every episode. These fragments might take us and them back to the day before or years before the crash. We see what shaped their character and, in many cases, how they rubbed up against each other, often unremarkably, before the flight. The adventure on the island, on the other hand, continues to be told in frantic arcs of only a day or so per episode. The pacing, like its time shifting, is all part of what makes the series work the way it does.

Then there are the characters themselves, and the actors who inhabit them – all seem to have been born for their roles. As with any good disaster movie, every character is a reflection of a part of ourselves, and we identify with this one or that, regardless of gender, often changing our feeling about them as we see how their history leads them to face the island's challenges. If the writers are doing their job, we are given the opportunity to ask relevant ethical questions about ourselves through our surrogates on the island. The situation may be fantastical, but the emotional and behavioral interplay is not. There are no Kim Bauers here.

If I were to offer titles for each season arc, they might go something like:
Season One: The Crash
Season Two: The Hatch
Season Three: The Others
Season Four: Time

Season Two
In Season One, leaders and followers sort themselves out, tenuously. Lovers connect, reconnect and disconnect. After The Hatch is opened, the Island expands and contracts in unpredictable ways. More Survivors are found, while the Others make their presence felt insidiously, powerfully. New characters are introduced, some to die, some to stay. It appears that everyone is still lost.

 


 

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.

I haven't quite made up my mind about the apparent opening up of the image from season two on. It suits me to think that it's intentional. In much the same way as our eye becomes accustomed to a room as we walk into it from broad daylight, so, too, the image fills with more light as the seasons progress. It is as if the survivors are first in a dark place – and they are, emotionally, whether they are camped on the beach or in the jungle – and then gradually, as they become more confident, come out into the light and see where they are. Even the resolution improves dramatically. Whatever the reason, for the Season One videos, especially for the pilot episode, blacks are a little crushed and contrast is more out of control. There's a medium grain and a fuzziness that pervades. We might not take notice much because the action is so intense, but compared to the second season, the difference isn't very subtle.

The Second Season DVD was pretty good to start with, better than Season One, with little in the way of distracting artifacts. As with the Season One Blu-ray, only more so, once in motion, we see something not apparent in our caps: the high def picture has an extraordinary density where every surface and texture has a tangibility to it that is a little surprising. Now that the contrast is under control and resolution is tighter, everything has a life that is only suggested on the DVD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 9/9
Unlike Season One on Blu-ray, the default uncompressed audio mix and high definition image on Season Two are about in the same league, the one fully complementing the other. The crisp dialogue has a focus, size and shape that is almost cinematic. Ambient jungle noises, background surf, rain, the whispers of the Others - it's all there now. Surrounds are effectively brought into play, placing us right in the middle of things. When chased through the dense forest by monster or man, the jungle breathes as if to suck to life out of us. Effects and dialogue on and off the island are creatively merged with Michael Giacchino's Emmy award-winning score. Everything is either alive or in jeopardy of losing it.

 

Operations: 8
The menus may look much the same as the DVD and the Blu-rays for seasons 3 and 4, and they are, with one interesting addition. SeasonPlay is with us again, which allows bookmarking of where we exited the disc and return to the same place, but now SeasonPlay adds several viewer capability. It seems cumbersome at first if you're not a gamester or if you don't need to sign in, but hit Return when prompted. No pain. The Special Features menu is a kick. For the longest time, the unsuspecting will wonder when it actually comes on board. I won't spoil the fun.

 

 

 

Extras: 8
The Blu-ray offers no new bonus features beyond what we already know from the 2005 DVD, nor are the features presented in HD. They do look noticeably better, however – I observed higher bit rates, around 7 Mbps instead of 2. The features have all been reviewed elsewhere, so just a few brief comments for now:

In addition to the roundtable commentaries that accompany several of the episodes, "Lost: On Location" is an extensive quasi-making-of series of featurettes for some dozen different episodes, which is all the more detailed in "Fire + Water." The features under "Phase 3: Conclusion" is appropriately inconclusive in grand Lost style - seductively titled: "Lost Connections" "Secrets from the Hatch" and the irresistible "Mysteries, Conspiracies & Theories."

 

 

Bottom line: 9
A stunning image, excellent sound, the usual suspects and some new ones, with and without beards, on the island and not. Highly recommended for fans of the series and newbies who have just picked up Season One on Blu-ray.

Leonard Norwitz
June 7th, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

About the Reviewer: 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.


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