Lost: Season 5 (US - BD RA)
Gabe takes another Blu-ray layman's trek in preparation for the final season...
And so begins another journey into the world of Lost, and so soon after the official Blu-ray release of seasons one and two. At least I’m watching this one in order, and I know what’s going on this time, right? This, the fifth season of the wildly popular series sees the Oceanic Six splitting into groups, returning to The Island, finding themselves trapped in time, walking on eggshells, and bickering, bickering, bickering. No one gets tripped up by a boar this season.
The Vonnegut inspired ‘unstuck in time’ motif was definitely fun for an episode last year, but through gross overuse it grows numbing and frustrating as it defines the first third of the fifth season. At first the motif recalls the solid season four episode, and it creates a sense of suspense not usual for the show, but after about two episodes the process starts to feel like an awkward stop gap on the part of the storytellers. My dislike of the show’s continuous time biding more or less defines my overall negative opinions concerning the series, and I can’t think of a better way to spread a story over a full six seasons than time travel (just look at Heroes). The motif also starts to resemble a video game, which isn’t unusual for the show (which was apparently originally based on the Myst game series), but an aspect I haven’t ever really appreciated. In what I’m assuming is an effort to keep the audience from getting too confused the flashback motif is forgone during the time-jump scenes, and I quickly found myself missing it, along with further development of the more scientific-ish aspects of the series mythology. These episodes move very quickly, creating the illusion of more forward motion in the overall storytelling, but things remain rather stagnant for the first six episodes. Frankly I was busy, and almost gave up.
Thank God I found the strength, because the seventh episode breaks the time shift, and the story viewers were left with last season starts to pick up again. It all feels a little like a reboot (the characters are literally taken back to ‘the beginning’), or perhaps a smidge too reminiscent of Life on Mars (British version, ‘natch). I’m definitely tired of time travel stories, and the Lost producers pulled this same trick this year with Star Trek, but there aren’t many shows that pull time travel plus a three year skip (plus the lampshade hanging via Hurley and Miles is amusing). It’s a gimmick, but Lost can’t be accused of avoiding gimmicks (I’m not sure any ‘high concept’ show can be). The latter half-plus of the season manages to recapture a lot of the addictive serial storytelling, and multi-faceted character construction that made the second and third seasons such a sensation. As an ‘outsider’ watching these seasons for review purposes, not really as a fan (I still don’t really watch the show when it airs), I personally can’t help but think that compacting aspects of season four and combining them with this latter section of season five would’ve made for more efficient and better storytelling in the long run. Perhaps it’s all stems from the shorter run series I tend to watch and worship, like Mad Men and Venture Bros..
Among the better section are a few standout stand-alones, but mostly the plot-wagon is driving to the end of the trail at this point in the series. Some of the new additions to the greater plot (such as certain revelations about Miles’ ‘abilities’) have the distinct aroma of ‘too little, too late’, but as the man that complained about the show’s seemingly never ending story arc, I have to appreciate the fact that things seem to be building to an end. The second to last season ends with a few more sudden shifts in character dynamics than I’d prefer (the fact that no one is beyond out of the blue double-crossing has become a parody at this point), but this series has always excelled in the realm of season finales. Season five doesn’t feature the strongest ending in the series’ history, but it’s a damn good two parter, effectively telling two exciting, intersecting ‘A’ stories, while gracefully underwriting them with previously missing snippets of the greater continuity puzzle.
It’s hard to judge perfection against more perfection, but I think this may be the most impressive Lost Blu-ray yet. There really isn’t a weakness across the entire transfer. There’s plenty of fine grain, but no real compression noise or artefacts, and the grain is super fine. Besides the utter clarity, there’s the matter of every other thing that makes a high definition transfer worth the effort – colour quality, fine details and consistency. The colours are rich and varied, including all those lush, green jungle environments, stark Dharma interiors, sunny Dharmaville exteriors, and bleak, orange lit caverns. The colours aren’t often stylistically created through complex lighting rigs or gels, but are appropriately clean, cut, and hyper real. The details are just as varied, from the expansive, deep set locations, to clothing textures and hypnotizing facial hair. The consistency is the only thing worth noting in a semi-negative light. Even at their worst things are still nearly perfect, but those looking for problems will notice a few minor inconsistencies in overall detail, colour cleanliness, grain, detail sharpness, and black levels. The black levels are the only items I’d bitch about a little, as the blued blacks of some of the underground scenes are a hair bothersome. The incredible clarity makes the submarine effect stick out much more than the producers likely intended.
Season five comes fitted with yet another super theatrical, super exciting, super solid DTS-HD 5.1 track, and once again, there’s nothing much worth complain about here. The time skipping sound is just as grating for the audience as it is for the characters, but it’s an intense bit of multi-channel sound design, kind of like a high frequency THX test. Other notable moments that sound just as aurally impressive as any big budget movie release include another plane crash (rough landing?), and that awesome magnetic charge in the pit that builds slowly, and features dozens of metal bending bits throughout. I caught one noticeable bit of inconsistent dialogue audio on the whole thing. When Sawyer and Jack are fist fighting at the top of the second half of the finale Jack’s voice gets loud and somewhat distorted. Otherwise the center channel is all smooth sailing and natural spoken word. Michael Giacchino’s music continues to be a driving source of the mix’s most satisfying moments, even if the scores this season sound a little overused. I’m guessing Star Trek cut into things a bit this year.
The extras begin on disc one with the always helpful ‘Season Play’ option, and a ‘ Lost Starter Kit’ previous season wrap-up, for those of us that don’t remember everything. Also on this disc is a commentary track for the first episode, ‘Because You Left’, with executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. The producers perhaps should’ve chosen the season finale as the episode to speak over, because they cover story points throughout the entire season. The focus is almost exclusively placed on plotting and script writing, which is interesting to me, but probably a lot less interesting to fans who have studied all this stuff thoroughly already. Disc three features the other commentary track, this one for the ‘He's Our You’ featuring executive producers/writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. These guys are also focused on writing, but are more low-key, and spend a lot of time dealing with on-screen action, which is pretty dull.
Disc four features ‘ Lost 100’ (19:17, HD), a behind the scenes look at the construction of the 100th episode of the series, and the milestone’s effect on the cast and crew. The story is told through raw, on-set footage, and warm-fuzzy interviews. The celebratory cake is pretty cool. I have a feeling that the next Blu-ray collection will have something similar for the last episode of the series.
The disc six extras begin with ‘ Lost University’, which requires BDLive capabilities, which I do not have. So then, I’ll move on to ‘Mysteries of the Universe’ (26:15, SD), which the title card claims is an episode of a short lived ABC series from the ‘80s. This is, in fact, just a very clever ruse, and the extra is actually a fake expose on the fictional Dharma organization. The piece is expertly crafted as a faux dated documentary series, including even audio and visual cues that recall VHS taped television. ‘Making Up for Lost Time’ (13:47, HD) is a look at the season’s time travel motifs, featuring cast and crew interviews, and decent explanations for the overuse of the trope. ‘An Epic Day with Richard Alpert’ (12:14, HD) follows the actor on a day acting in two timelines for the finale. His natural eye-liner comes up, which is funny to me, if not anyone else. ‘Building 23 and Beyond’ (12:00, HD) is a tour of the production offices in Burbank with Michael Emerson, who briefly interviews the show’s major production and writing staff.
Things come to an end with another set of ‘ Lost on Location’ featurettes, this time seven total (37:44, HD), exploring subject matter such as on-set water shooting, car stunts, set design, jungle shooting, and shoot-outs, eight deleted scenes (13:43, SD), and a blooper reel (3:48, SD).
This might be the year I finally remember to watch Lost when it regularly airs on plain old television. Season five gets off to a slow, rocky start, but once it settles in it’s pretty good stuff, and everything ends on a…er…explosive enough note I may need to know what happens next. Series fans have nothing to fear concerning this Blu-ray release. The video and audio quality is next to perfection, and the extras, though not exactly overwhelming in scope, are perfectly pleasant.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 8th December 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, DTS 5.1 Spanish and French
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Commentaries, Lost on Location, Building 23 and Beyond, An Epic Day with Richard Alpert, Making Up for Lost Time, Mysteries of the Universe, Lost 100, Lost University BDLive, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Season Play
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Terry O'Quinn, Josh Holloway
Genre: Action, Adventure and Drama
Length: 731 minutes
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