Posted September 04 2006 - 03:18 PM
the complete second season
| Studio: ||Buena Vista Home Entertainment |
|Aspect Ratio: ||16x9 encoded 1.78:1 OAR (HD) |
|Audio: ||5.1 DD English |
|SpecialFeatures: ||A whole heck of a lot… an entire disc full |
|ReleaseDate: ||September 5, 2006 |
Allow me the luxury of quoting from my original Season One DVD set review… the review that actually acquainted me with the incredible world of LOST. Nothing's changed...
The show is a unconventional series brought to life by many of the same folks who fashioned Alias. LOST intersects some effective devices, each of which would have been compelling enough to support a “normal” show all by itself: There is the adventure aspect of a surviving group of plane crash victims on a mysterious, uncharted island. There is the character development and relational intrigue of a drama. There is the mystery/suspense aura of a genuine thriller. All of these dissimilar lines coalesce together without abrasion and amplify the strength of the show; the whole of LOST is greater than the sum of its parts.
The show is so riveting at times that the cat happening to innocently jump up on the sofa is a catalyst for disaster. I confess that I cruelly helped fate out a little a few times when my roommates were spook-primed with a well-placed “boo” that literally tore them into shreds with fits of fear-for-their-life screaming. We *all* had to make good use of a “protection” blanket which, as anyone with experience watching good suspense/thriller will tell you, is necessary to protect your outer extremities from the invisible threats that roam the viewing room…lurking just out of view under the sofa and around the corner. The horror isn’t gratuitous or needlessly vulgar, it’s classy-suspense along the vein of The Village, The Others, and X-files.
Like all television series that have to be written-on-the-fly to accommodate a rigorous airing schedule, at times there are a few plot holes or rough spots, but the show never insults your intelligence. And don’t be too quick to judge, because more often than not, when you find yourself getting critical of the direction of the plot and assuming that you can “out think” the show and condescend to try to let it entertain you in spite of its deficiencies, its takes a quick turn, knocks you off balance, and demonstrates that the “faulty logic” you had so pridefully identified turned out to be a more complex storyline strategy that was simply waiting to unfold a new dimension to the story. What fun.
See all the good discussion about Season one on DVD here:
|Packaging & Presentation...|
As with Season one the set (seven discs!) comes in a card-board fold-out case that's stores nicely in a book-sized plastic sleeve. My only complaint is that the packaging uses the "overlapping" disc strategy which makes removing the top disc necessary to reach the disc below (I'd swap them as I watch them in order to simplify things). Good news is that the episode numbers are clearly silk-screened on each disc and there is a nicely printed booklet describing the contents of each disc with a description of each episode.
Ok, maybe it’s not “perfection” but it’s definitely really, really, really
I don’t think the image could look much better than this within the confines of the 720 x 480 MPEG2 DVD format. On my 720P projector the image looks so close to the subjective image quality of the HD broadcast that casual viewers would probably not be able to tell them apart. The image is lush and vivid. Colors (especially greens) are deeply saturated and subtlety varied. The bright day-light scenes look about as natural and easy-on-the-eyes as Standard-Definition has a right to look. I’m amazed how “unprocessed” the daylight scenes look simply spectacular, with what feels
like nearly all the clarity and detail of the HD feed.
Now, with all the accolades let me qualify a few points. The first is that LOST is actually filmed on 35mm which is then flown in negative form to the production house in LA where the material is scanned to digital for post production editing. The relevance of this is that despite the vast amount of detail/picture information that can be stored on 35mm film, depending on film-style and production techniques, film-source HD material often looks softer than “live” HD capture. The producers of LOST chose 35 mm for capture because they like the look and know how to work with the medium artistically during filming. However, the film-origin of the show may be one reason why the difference between the DVD and HD doesn’t look more pronounced to my eyes. Also, keep in mind that my projector is only 1280 x 720 in resolution. It’s quite possible that a full 1920 x 1080 projector (viewed from the same viewing distance) would allow the HD original to communicate more detail than what I see now.
Negatives? Some of the darker night scenes (and there are a lot in LOST) look a little MPEGY in some of the shifting backgrounds. However, it’s difficult for me to tell where film-grain and “natural” noise stops and where digital noise begins. I also see some noise in some of the daylight scenes but even when closely scrutinizing the image it seems a toss-up whether I’m just seeing natural film-grain. The image never takes on that “harsh” character of over-compressed MPEG that I’m used to seeing when film-grain swamps the codec or too much EE enters into the picture to “digitize” the natural detail. Oh… let me state that I see absolutely no edge-ringing anywhere at all.
Can it be real?
Of course… like any good HT enthusiast I’m looking forward to a future 1920 x 1080p delivery on HD disc (HD DVD/BD/whatever). But in the meantime this SD DVD set is no slouch. I think you’ll be impressed.
Picture Quality: 5 / 5
|SCORE ||Description |
|1-2 ||An absolute abomination. Hurts to watch even on a 32” 4x3 480I TV. Think Outland or Jean De Flourette (scan-line aliasing, chroma noise, dotcrawl, PAL-NTSC conversion artifacts etc.)-- truly horrid. |
|2-3 ||Has some serious problems, but one can at least watch it without getting a headache despite all the problems though you might try to talk your guests into picking a different movie to watch if you have a large projection screen. Think Kill Bill Vol 1. |
|3-4 ||Good or at least "acceptable" on a big-screen, but not winning any awards and definitely room for improvement if you view the image wide-angle (though smaller-screen viewers may be quite content). Think the first extended cut of Fellowship of the Ring...decent picture but still some HF filtering and some edge-halos. |
|4-5 ||A reference picture that really makes the most of the DVD medium and shows extraordinary transparency to the film-source elements limited only by DVD’s 720 x 480 resolution. Non-videophile observers can't help but remark "WOW" and ask you if they are watching HD. Think The Empire Strikes Back, the Fifth Element Superbit or the new Toy Story 10th Anniversary Edition. |
Currently running DVDs on my OPPO DVD player (Faroudja deinterlacing) which scales to 720P, feeding my BenQ 8700+ PJ via DVI, projecting onto a 106” 16x9 Dalite HiPower screen, viewed from approximately 1.6 screen-widths distance. Well mastered DVDs produce a stunningly film-like image in this scenario, and lesser-mastered material quickly shows its flaws.
Ya-know. I can’t help but feel a little under whelmed by the 5.1 presentation on this disc. The mix feels decidedly front-heavy. More specifically, it feels a little too much center-focused. I know that the show is primarily dialogue-driven and there are instances of sounds making their way to the front L/R channels and on occasion the rears… but the mix doesn’t sound like it really takes advantage of the acoustic opportunity that it’s afforded via the discrete 5.1 Dolby Digital codec. Too many times I find myself saying “self… I can’t help but feel that the acoustic atmosphere in the mix is just not taking the best advantage of the 5.1 array.” Hey, don’t pretend that you don’t have conversations with yourself just like that all the time… you just keep them to yourself and hope that nobody is watching when you mouth the words. I’m putting myself out there and being vulnerable. I’m going to give myself a hug.
So in summary the audio is “ok” but it just seems that overall it’s not going for the gold. In fairness to the mixing crew they’ve got to crank these shows out without much time for contemplating convoluted presentation strategies… but it just seems like even something as simple as cranking up the rear channels and adding some out-of-phase reverb to the back L/R speakers would throw a more satisfying sound field. I’ll shut up now.
Sound Quality: 3.5 / 5
B&K AVR 212 processor/receiver driving my Onix-Rocket Loudspeaker system.
As you may have expected, this seven-disc DVD edition of Season Two has some outstanding bonus material… in fact… the entire seventh disc is devoted entirely to bonus material. My roommate and I spent hours going through every single feature and were particularly rewarded to find that there’s an Easter Egg on virtually every menu (which you can find by pressing one of the directional arrow keys repeatedly until the cursor lands somewhere you didn’t expect… experiment to with the keys to figure out which one works for each menu). The DHARMA cookies was my personal favorite.
What’s wrong with the bonus features is that all but one of them are exclusively 4x3 encoded. This is a real bummer, especially for a show shot in 16x9 native for HD.
The bonus disc menu system derives inspiration from the DHARMA training films seen in the program and it’s a hoot. I think fans will get a kick out of just accessing
the bonus features let alone watching them…
WARNING: Spoilers around every corner in the special features of disc seven. If you haven’t already seen the entire second season DO NOT watch any of the bonus material until you do so - otherwise you take a great risk for missing out on much of the fun of the emotion of suspense during the show by seeing stuff you shouldn't see ahead of time in the bonus material.
- Fire & Water – Anatomy of an Episode: I know it masquerades by the title as a typical episode-making-of feature but this documentary goes much deeper. It touches on all aspect of film production, special effects, colorizing, filming, transferring, editing, writing, you name it. This was one of the key bonus features on the disc and it really goes in-depth into the production of the series. A must-see.
- LOST on Location: A sort of behind-the-scenes tour which follows cast and crew and many of the drudgeries behind the few minutes of finished film we take for granted on ABC.
- The World According to Sawyer: This is fun. It plays something like a “reel” of Sawyers best one-liners and nick-naming mockeries. If you’re a Sawyer fan or if you always get a kick out of hearing him roll off those great jibes at his fellow mates then don’t miss this entertaining short.
- LOST Flashbacks: These are basically “deleted scenes” of flashback (non-island) material. There are several and many of them just flesh out already-included flashbacks in a little more detail. Sadly, picture quality is terrible and appears VHS in origin. The play-all feature is handy.
- Delete Scenes: Sporting the same abysmal 4x3 VHS-ish picture quality of the Flashbacks, what you’ll see through the scan-line aliasing and chroma noise are some deleted scenes that will definitely pick your interest. Use the play-all feature and just watch them in series.
- LOST Bloopers: Didn’t do a thing for me. I’d rewatch “The World According to Sawyer” again instead.
- Channel 4 UK Promo: Proudly bearing the badge of being the only 16x9 bonus feature, this is that artsy-fartsy promo with the cast on the beach dancing in slow-mo dressed like they’re in some Bob Fosse stage musical. It’s actually kind of cool. This circulated on the internet a while back too.
- LOST Connections: Ok, this was the feature that I had to call it quits after about 10 minutes, but die-hard fans will probably map it all out and have a field day over this one. This ingenious feature “links” all the characters together showing how they’ve intersected in each other’s pasts… basically the six degrees of separation theory. Very cool, and if you ever wondered what connections existed and spent time freeze-framing or surfing the web boards to chat about it here’s a chance to get some of the linkages spelled out.
- Mysteries, Theories, and Conspiracies: The cast and production team talk about the many fan-fabricated theories about what the heck is going on. This feature is a lot of fun and shows just how much reflexivity there is between today’s on-line fan communities and the artistic direction behind the actual show. In one example here, one of the creative team painted a mural inside the hatch (painted by the shipwrecked sailor in the show) and included iconography based on many of the fan-circulated conspiracy theories he’d read on the web. How cool is that? And you thought that Snakes on a Plane was the only time this sort of thing happened.
- Secrets From the Hatch: This is cool. The details behind the design and construction of the underground hatch are explicated in great detail. Definitely worth the watch!
LOST needs no justification but allow me to say for the sake of completeness how uncommonly rewarding watching this series can be. The show establishes its own parameters and creates its own genre. If you haven’t seen LOST and want to get into the action be sure to watch Season One completely (and in order) before moving on with this latest DVD set.
Well folks. Fans have no choice... other than deciding which retailer is going to earn their LOST Season Two purchase dollars. As expected, a stellar image transfer awaits you on this fantastic seven-disc set. An entire disc devoted exclusively to bonus material adds hours of indulgent bliss for casual fans and LOST die-hards alike. I hope you enjoyed the review… now go forth and buy!