"Lost: The Complete Third Season -- The Unexplored Experience" Seven-disc boxed DVD set available Tuesday, $59.99
A six-hour bonus section turns "Lost: The Complete Third Season" into a gem
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The Writers Guild of America strike may cause a few glitches in the rapidly approaching Season 4 of "Lost" -- set to launch in February -- but fans can take solace in the ability to review the now-distant Season 3 on DVD beginning Tuesday.
Beyond the pleasure of watching all 23 episodes without interruption, an ample selection of bonus features amounts to a whopping six hours. Some are better than others, of course. The deleted scenes aren't particularly compelling, for instance, and probably will leave you nodding in agreement with the writers and producers who cut them in the first place.
But there is plenty to make this DVD set worthwhile. "'Lost' in a Day," a polished account of a single 14-hour workday in the show's production, tops the list. On Feb. 21, cameras followed every aspect of the show in multiple locations in Los Angeles and Hawaii, touching on seven episodes in various stages of production.
It begins with Michael Emerson (Ben) leaving his Waikiki apartment for an early call. "It's now 5:20 a.m., and that's just the hour that you're thinking, 'Oh, boy, let me go play act like I'm in a science fiction adventure story!'" he tells the camera.
Food preparation for the crew and cast follows, along with the arrival in Los Angeles of film shot the previous day, which gets picked up and hand-delivered to the studio.
The frantic pace of the segment seems indicative of the tempo necessary to produce a one-hour show in 10 days.
We eavesdrop on writers brainstorming the finale, then watch as actors rehearse and shoot earlier episodes. There's meticulous creativity in the hair and makeup trailer (lots of sweat and dirt and blood!) and wardrobe folks shopping at local discount stores. Oh, and the location managers need to find a house they can transform into a Scottish residence (with wallpaper and bricks). And how about finding a Scottish actor in Hawaii? "Like pulling teeth," says one casting director. Michael Giacchino composes music for a nearly completed episode, and wonders aloud whether viewers will notice that Jack is playing his own theme song on the piano at the Others' camp. Sound effects for Locke's footsteps in the jungle are recorded, as does dialogue that sounds slightly garbled from interference.
And that's just the beginning. Those yearning for explanations and updates while waiting breathlessly for the new season to start (and hopefully finish) won't be disappointed.
Season 3 brought an end to Dominic Monaghan's sweet character Charlie.
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As they did for the first two seasons, the writers and producers of "Lost" have created enough added value in the Season 3 seven-disc DVD set to essentially turn a bunch of re-runs into a collector's item that plays exquisitely in widescreen format. Cleverly, the six-hour bonus section begins with flickering Dharma Initiative screens. Like the characters stumbling through the limited information they receive, viewers might take a minute to figure out that not all of the screens actually work.
While the fascinating "Lost in a Day" segment highlights the varied selections, here's an overview of some of the others (choices, not people):
"Lost" on location: Learn how they transform various locations on Oahu into another part of the world, and watch a series of interviews with actors (looking unusually clean and exceptionally attractive), who provide entertaining and articulate insight into their characters and pivotal scenes -- some of the best stuff in the entire set.
For instance, Yunjin Kim (Sun) notes that her character "has a lot of secrets; she has so many that I can't even keep track!"
And during a highly orchestrated fight scene between Daniel Dae Kim (Jin) and Sun's soon-to-be-dead boyfriend, Dae Kim says, "there's no dialogue, so I'm thrilled!" He also explains that with every flashback, he obtains "that much more knowledge" of his character.
Michael Emerson, lying face-down, immobilized, reports from the operating room: "This is Day 3 of our operating-table adventure, and it just gets better and better." Details follow about the open wound on his back rigged to spurt blood into Matthew Fox's (Jack) face.
Josh Holloway (Sawyer) talks about shooting inside the Halawa Correctional Facility -- "a place I hope to avoid in my real life," he laughs.
Of the charming scene with the Dharma Volkswagen van, Jorge Garcia (Hurley) says, "The whole Dharma basis has a real hippie feel to it. It's very peace and love. So what else but a VW bus, really?" And it's fascinating to watch the tricks of television, when crew members move and shake the bus while running around it with leaves and twigs to give the impression of fast movement for close-up shots of the actors. It's not entirely staged though. They did send the bus down the hill -- with stunt people inside.
"It's far more interesting to have morally ambiguous people." Elizabeth Mitchell:
Her "Lost" character Juliet, one of the Others, got a bigger role in Season 3.
Quite honestly, these never-before-seen flashbacks lack excitement, which is probably why they fell to the digital version of the cutting room floor. Indeed, watching them in isolation emphasizes how beautifully the flashbacks really are integrated into each script. In other words, it's difficult to view them out of context, though rabid fans will appreciate the opportunity to troll for subtleties.
Deleted scenes: Two deserve attention, including one in which Jack gets caught spying on his former wife when he leaps from his car to save a girl's life. The other involves a dramatic encounter between Ben and his daughter Alex, when he tells her that he has a tumor on his spine, and she makes it clear that she doesn't care what happens to him.
The world of the Others: "It's far more interesting to have morally ambiguous people," Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet) says of the Others. And she compares their idyllic settlement to "Stepford summer camp, really."
It's also intriguing to learn more about the Dharma Hydra Station -- also known as the zoological station, where Sawyer and Kate were imprisoned. Manoa Valley provided appropriately wet, muddy conditions for the filming. The history of the station dates back to Season 1, when the castaways found the polar bear.
Who knew a Volkswagen bus would be one of the memorable "characters" of the season?
Though not nearly as funny as say, the "Seinfeld" bloopers (is it fair to compare the two, anyway?), this section offers pure amusement as the actors laugh at and with each other before apologizing to the director. Perhaps the biggest giggle comes when Elizabeth Mitchell and Evangeline Lilly (Kate) run through the forest and stumble to the ground after tripping over each other.
The book club: "I just like following a trail of crumbs and making connections that way," Michael Emerson says of the abundant literary references in the series. Viewers will learn why -- and how -- writers integrate iconic books into the plot. And yes, they are all huge Stephen King fans. Why else would the Others' book club choose to analyze "Carrie" as Season 3 opens? But also listen for multiple references to "The Wizard of Oz."
"Sometimes people think that if you're viewing genre television it can't also be substantive, and I think in 'Lost' we're trying to address serious thematic concerns," says executive producer and writer Carlton Cuse. He also explains that the title of the show refers to the fact that the characters are lost metaphorically and emotionally -- not just physically on this isolated island -- for anyone who hadn't caught on.
Cast in clay: Despite the hard sell for the action figures, it's interesting to see how Todd McFarlane created the "Lost" collectibles with high-tech scans of the actors in a cramped Honolulu hotel room. McFarlane explains why he wanted to gather a wide range of facial expressions, or a "library of their emotions" so he did not have to repeat the process.
With this and much more in the set, it's not something any fan should miss.