On DVD from Buena Vista Home Entertainment
It's winter. Hibernating is perfectly natural, and for those who need justification for such activities as lying on the couch, allow me to encourage TV on DVD. No commercials, pause option and if you pick something like the Lost series, be ready for hours of uninterrupted top-notch entertainment with acres of tropical forest, corporate experiments, hallucinations, mango eating and boar hunting. For starters.
For the uninitiated, Lost is about a group of people who survive Oceanic Flight 815, a passenger plane that left from Australia only to malfunction midair, split in half and fall on an island off the radar somewhere in the South Pacific, leaving the passengers, well, lost.
And no, it's not a dramatic version of Gilligan's Island. The fast pace of Lost can at times seem like an episode of 24 with less clothing and more rain, and the suspense will keep you running back to the DVD rental store or to the nearest DVD provider.
An episode typically focuses on one person. A pre-crash story is blended with what he or she is up to on the island. The scenes are delicately crafted and told completely out of time, so the feeling of being lost is reinforced on multiple levels.
The characters the writers focus on are likeable, even if most have questionable ethics. As the series has developed over time we've learned that the reasons behind certain life choices are always more complex than meets the eye.
The transformation of so-called heroes like Jack, the only doctor (seemingly), drives the narrative, provoking deeper queries about his motivations. Secrets held by each survivor ultimately contribute to early deaths and thicken the plot as we learn that all the characters are mysteriously connected. These angles are thrown out in bits and pieces, usually at a moment when you think you have an idea about what is really happening only to realize you don't really know. That's what keeps me watching.
It seems unusual for a network series, but interestingly enough Lost is full of literary references: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, all the works of Charles Dickens, Carrie by Steven King andAre You There God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume are among the titles mentioned, quoted or read by the characters. The special features section of the DVD series offers interviews with the writers where they further explain specific literary influences, one of which is King's The Stand.
Plain and simple there is nothing plain and simple about Lost. It isn't a show for the impatient. It is surprisingly well crafted in a way that seems fresh for TV and perfect for DVD. Superb cinematography, chilling incidental music by composer Michael Giacchino and deadpan humor kick things up another notch.
Those prone to sagas like Star Wars will find Lost a good fit. The show has a huge fan base. Google it and you'll find a whole herd of nerds dissecting and theorizing what is going to happen in Season Four. The suspense is guaranteed to provoke long conversations with other fans or perhaps just fill you up with a sense of childlike wonder. Is it a modern version of Dante's Hell? Are they caught in an alternate universe? Or, as one anonymous devoted fan suggests, could there be some reversal of the earth's magnetic field? Questions left unanswered in Season Three may or may not be answered in Season Four, which begins Jan. 31, on ABC. If you're new to the show, that's probably not enough time to get caught up, but you could get to your local video store, get Lost and give it a try.