Season 5, on the off chance you haven’t seen it (and don’t worry, there are no major spoilers in this review), is a season full of unexpected turns, character payoffs, and major island mythology. There are so many major developments per episode, with endless shocks and astounding jaw-droppers, that it can’t help but be the best series of the show (so far). It’s a testament to the confidence of Lost’s cast and crew in the story they’re telling that the whole thing didn’t devolve into confusing madness.
The Season 5 DVD and Blu-ray collection brings together all 17 hours in glorious digital transfers that look great in either format. The best is of course the Blu-ray version, which has vibrant colors and incredible sharpness that add up to brilliant, drop-dead gorgeous on-screen imagery that’s among the finest that Blu-ray owners will ever see. Likewise, the audio is as good as it gets, promising surround sound owners the best sound quality possible.
Past Lost season sets have included multiple episodes that feature audio commentaries from the cast and crew, but Season 5 has only two. Maybe the producers didn’t want to risk anyone letting any secrets out prematurely, so they put a gag order on the usual tell-all commentaries? Or maybe they just couldn’t corral the cast and crew to record many commentaries. I don’t know. But in any case, this is the one and only area where diehard Losties will feel gypped. In every other way, the Season 5 collection is outstanding.
There are tons of great extras that eager fans will joyfully lap up. The best of them is “Lost On Location,” which provides behind-the-scenes peeks at the filming of several episodes. The on-set antics of the cast and crew, and how hard they work to produce Lost, may sound like dry stuff, but it’s surprisingly entertaining. You’ll find out how complicated it is to stage a car crash (like the one in “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”), you’ll learn about how important wires are whenever fire is involved in a scene, and you’ll witness how much fun the actors have on the set in between takes.
“Building 23 & Beyond” follows Michael Emerson as he visits the Lost Writers Offices in Los Angeles for the first time. He takes us on a tour of the building and meets nearly every major creative person behind the show, including the entire writing staff, the show’s editors, continuity experts, assistants, and more. While it’s fun to see where the show is conceived, the thing that jumped out at me most about this feature was the amusing way that each of the staff members becomes a deer-in-headlights when Emerson sudden walks into their office. As they welcome him and show him around, their thought bubbles are plainly written on their faces, with half of them are thinking, “Holy cow, how cool is it that Michael Emerson is here!” and the other half, “Benjamin Linus is in my office and he could totally kill me.”
“An Epic Day with Richard Alpert” follows Nestor Carbonell through his paces on the final day of shooting for Season 5. It’s a fun little diversion — which includes a surprising revelation about Carbonell’s infamous eyelashes — but not a feature anyone but Carbonell groupies will return to again and again. “Making Up for Lost Time” finds the cast and crew talking about all the time travel in Season 5, attempting to sort it out and keep it straight. And Blu-ray viewers get a feature called “Lost 100,” which celebrates the 100th episode of the show with a look back at the first 99, along with an on-set celebration that took place during the 100th episode’s filming, with a special cake delivery from Baltimore’s Charm City Cakes (of Ace of Cakes fame).
“Mysteries of the Universe: The Dharma Initiative” is a fake documentary based on a television show from the 80s that digs into the darker side of the “secret society” we know as the Dharma Initiative. It’s a very well done feature, though frustratingly short on new information. Only a few nuggets of intel are revealed — including the fate of Horace Goodspeed’s original companion on the island, Olivia, and the exact relationship between Alvar Hanso and Gerald DeGroot — but all of our unanswered questions about the Initiative and its role in island history remain exactly that: unanswered.
The bloopers are, as always, hysterically entertaining, while the deleted scenes aren’t bad, but give us nothing terribly interesting to ruminate on. The menus are a little more interactive than usual, and just wait until you see what happens on the menu for the Extras disc.
One of the most hyped features of the Blu-ray set is “Lost University,” a very cool feature which a ton of thought and planning has gone into, and I highly recommend taking part in it if you can. For the first time ever, homework might just be enjoyable.
The Season 5 set is worth the price for quality of the episodes alone, but the fact that it comes with so much added content, and the care with which the package has been crafted, sends it way over the top. A must-have.
Image: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.