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Lost
Lost: The Complete Fourth Season DVD Details
Once again, a new season brought the introduction of new characters, this time by way of "the freighter." The big difference was this was the first season to come after the showrunners and the ABC network came to an agreement on when the series would end. So the fourth season was the first of three abbreviated seasons of sixteen episodes. The season was further abbreviated by the writers' strike down to thirteen episodes which meant some of the backstories of the "freighter people" had to be pushed back to another season. However, the shorter season coupled with a set end date led to a great season that was focused and left us wanting more.

The fourth season picked up from the surprise season three ending flashforward. That flashforward had signaled a break from the familiar flashback structure. This led to flashbacks, flashforwards and even something in between being a part of the storytelling in season four. This change in story structure rejuvinated the writing and the quality of the season maintained a mostly high level including more than a few revelations that nearly rivaled season one. Because the flashforwards were not revealed chronologically, there were twists and turns within the flashforwards alone.

The on-Island action which actually takes a backseat to the flashfowards in a couple of episodes is intense with the "freighter people" adding a third group to the Flight 815 survivors and the "Others." The entire fourth season basically boils down to the events of the season three finale with Jack using the satellite phone to call the freighter and Charlie's revelation that it's "not Penny's boat." Sides and factions again change more than once and even those coming from the freighter prove to have diverse agendas. The attrition that began at the end of season three continues through season four and as in previous seasons, we didn't always like which characters were killed off. However, the show went on just fine without Charlie and it'll move on without season four's casualties.

By the time the season was done, the story elements only hinted at in the season three finale were full-blown. Season five looks set to be a wild ride. The duldrums of parts of season two seem to be ages ago. While other genre shows like Battlestar Galactica and Heroes met with mixed results when they also tried to reinvent themselves in order to stay fresh, Lost has succeeded in sustaining most of its momentum.

The DVD:
The Complete Fourth Season: The Extended Experience DVD has only fourteen episodes because of the shortened season, but includes approximately seven hours worth of extras. Of course, more than three hours of that comes from four episode commentaries. The first commentary features Jorge Garcia and Evangeline Lilly talking about the first episode of the season. Mostly the two of them are cutting up although Garcia does have a few behind-the-scenes bits from the episode. The second commentary has Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof and Editor Mark Goldman talking about The Constant, a mind-bending Desmond episode. The emphasis of the commentary was on the transitions between the timelines. Henry Ian Cusick's performance is also touched on. They managed to explain the episode without going near the greater mysteries of Faraday's story or what the time-travel could mean for the Island. The third commentary is done by Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim and first-time director Stephen Semel on Ji Yeon. It's a pleasant commentary, but aside from a few personal insights here and there, it's surprisingly uninformative though the respectfulness displayed between the two Kims is refreshing. The final commentary has Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof talking about the 2-hour season finale. They ramble like usual, but do discuss the episode a good bit without giving anything away. Even though this last commentary ran twice as long as the other three, it was enjoyable enough that we didn't notice.

The rest of the extras are fairly good. The first is found on Disc One is "Lost in 8:15" which recaps the first three seasons. Moving onto the first of two discs worth of special features, we start with "Lost on Location" which is a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes that highlight a particular aspect of an episode. The next feature is "Lost in Hawaii" which talks about how Hawaii (with the help of some visual effects) has stood in for a number of international locations. "The Right to Bear Arms" talks about the increaing importance of firearms in the show and how difficult it has become to keep track of where the guns came from and who currently has them. The next special feature talks about how the soundtrack was adapted for a performance by the Honolulu Symphony. The disc is rounded out with deleted scenes and bloopers.

The first special feature on the sixth disc is an abbreviated (just under an hour) presentation of the flashforwards in chronological order. It's a nice way of pulling them together to set up the fifth season. The next feature is a mockumentary that analyzes the story of the Oceanic 6. What blurs reality further is that real experts appear in the mockumentary. The next feature is about the "freighter folk," but it's short on insights. The last behind-the-scene feature touches on the logistics of shooting on the freighter at sea. The final feature on the disc are the mobisodes that were previously on the website. All-in-all, another solid set in which just having the episodes would be enough. The special features only add to the quality of the set.

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