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A Great Big Box Of 'Lost': Holding Six Seasons In Your Hands

The Lost complete set
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

The first thing you should understand about Lost: The Complete Collection, which is available starting today on Blu-ray and DVD (as is the sixth season on its own) is that it's a very, very pretty set and a lot of fun to open up and dig around in. I'm not even going to tell you all the nifty stuff about it, not only because they asked me not to, but because you really deserve the same experience I had of finding some of the goodies for yourself. As could be said of the show at times, all the packaging doo-dah is a little silly, but kind of a hoot.

Yes, that's a game. Yes, that's a little flashlight. Yes, that's a note. No, I haven't figured out all the secrets contained in this box either, PLEASE DON'T JUDGE ME.

The most talked-about extra, logically enough, is a 12-minute (or so) epilogue called "New Man In Charge" that, in addition to providing an extra glimpse of some of the characters, deals with some of the questions about island logistics that viewers had following the finale. Here's a clip.

Make no mistake: "New Man In Charge" is far from the only extra attached to the set. There's a long special I really enjoyed in which cast members reflect on the end of the show, there are some great behind-the-scenes vignettes about how some particularly important sequences (like the harrowing Sun/Jin submarine business) were filmed, there's the expected blooper reel ... lots of great stuff. But "New Man In Charge" has dominated the discussion, and will probably continue to do so.

But what's interesting, in particular, about "New Man In Charge" is that it provides the info dump that a lot of people were really, really unhappy that they didn't get in the imprecise but deeply felt finale (which I really liked, and grew to like more with time). And to me, what that flurry of information demonstrates very effectively is that the show really didn't need it, and answering those questions doesn't make it a lot more effective.

In other words, if you hated the finale, I doubt you'd have liked the finale combined with these answers very much more. Moreover, this is mostly stuff you might have guessed, which is probably why it wasn't on the show. Could you really not guess what was causing the fertility problems, based on everything else we knew about the island?

As I've mentioned in the past, Lost is one of a limited number of TV shows I think it's very much worth seeing on Blu-ray if you can, and it was getting hold of the show on home video that finally convinced me to watch the whole thing. I think this is a show much like The Wire — not in every way, obviously, but specifically in that it works much better in chunks of four or five episodes than it does doled out one episode at a time. I've talked to several fans of the show about how interminable the Season 2 stretch with Ana Lucia seemed to them as it was going on, and how brief it felt to me, because for me, it didn't drag out for months. So sure, on the one hand, this is a great brick of television to own.

On the other hand, obviously, with something like this, price is a major issue. The Blu-ray set has a list price of $280 (yipes), but it's $195 on Amazon — on DVD it's $230, marked down to $149. (It's also marked down at Barnes & Noble and undoubtedly lots of other places, so shop around.) That's still a lot of scratch, obviously, but in fairness, cheaper than buying six seasons individually. Moreover, if you take two people to dinner and a movie two or three times, you'll brush up against that DVD price, and do I think you'd get two or three evenings of entertainment out of all of Lost on DVD? Certainly.

These giant sets are always kind of a weird sell — if you love the show, you probably already own the previous seasons. If you don't, what are the odds you'll jump in by dropping $200 for the whole thing?

At the same time, in the case of this particular show, which was so ambitious and so rich at times — and so prone to missteps and stumbles into blind alleys at other times — it feels appropriate for something like this to be out there, sort of encouraging you to take it as a whole. Because as a whole, I continue to believe Lost is a massive, enormously important achievement in television that people who didn't like the last ten minutes of it have sometimes sold a bit short.

Producer Damon Lindelof's acceptance speech on the occasion of Lost's award for Outstanding Achievement in Drama at the recent TCA Awards (an award it shared with Breaking Bad) was a little bit hard to watch, even though his approach was very funny. Basically, Lindelof read some of the tweets he received after the finale — you can check them out here, complete with (PLEASE BE WARNED) all the swearing that was originally included. He was being funny, and everybody laughed, but he was also clearly and truly a bit pained by receiving a massive dump of hate mail after working his extremely creative head off to entertain people for six years.

What you learn from watching all the many, many extras that have been included on the various DVD and Blu-ray releases of Lost — including this one — is that whether you think the finale worked or not, a tremendous amount of love went into this project. Now, that's not to say that from a critical perspective, if something is a labor of love, you shouldn't say you didn't like it. (It is, in fact, my theory that almost everything is someone's labor of love.)

But it was hard not to feel for the guy. These people really tried to make something that would be cool and exciting and different, and often, they succeeded brilliantly. How would you like to be the guy who made "The Constant" and "Walkabout," the guy who developed characters like Ben Linus and John Locke and love stories like Desmond and Penny, and then after six years, somebody says to you, "You're a dirty liar. You never knew, you made it all up, you betrayed us all. You betrayed me and I hope you rot, m——-f——r"?

I have to admit, looking at the whole thing, having it all in hand, that all seems even more spectacularly unfair, like ordering and eating seventeen courses in a row at a restaurant and then paying the bill but leaving a note that says, "I hate your food, you incompetent hack."

Taken as a whole, Lost is a really satisfying and interesting set of stories, and it's gorgeous to look at, and if you like to lean back and geek out over special extra footage of actors and crew, they tend to give you everything you could possibly ask for.

You don't so much recommend a gigantic set like this as you recognize it for what it is: a very nice job of packaging and enhancing something a lot of people adored and will likely want to own.

And for the record, I didn't feel betrayed. I cried again watching the end of the finale again, and I'd be perfectly happy to start over with the pilot and watch everything — except maybe the episode about Jack's tattoo.

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