With 'Lost' DVDs, some answers finally found

Lost: The Complete Series Collection
"Lost: The Complete Collection" comes with every episode of the series, hours of extras and necessary accoutrement, like a board game and a mini-ankh. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
By Jen Chaney
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 24, 2010; 12:00 AM

"You can't just walk out of here. We deserve answers."

-- A laid-off Dharma Initiative employee in the "Lost" DVD epilogue, "The New Man in Charge"

After six seasons of watching and re-watching episodes of "Lost," not to mention spending infinite hours online poring through messageboard theories, blog analyses and Lostpedia entries, fans of ABC's notoriously brain-addling drama definitely wanted answers from the show's sixth and last season. But when the much-hyped series finale aired in May, some felt that -- as emotionally moving as those parting moments with protagonist Jack Shephard may have been -- not enough answers were given.

Now along comes "Lost: The Complete Sixth Season" (DVD: $59.99; Blu-ray: $79.99) and "Lost: The Complete Collection" (DVD: $229.99; Blu-ray: $279.99), which arrive Tuesday and invite the island's true believers to once again go searching for some narrative string to tie around all those lingering, loose ends. Here's the good news, though: both releases actually do deliver some answers, as well as -- in keeping with "Lost" DVD tradition -- some of the more detailed, entertaining extras available on any TV collection.

Viewers already know that season six -- with its simultaneously compelling and perplexing flash-sideways storyline -- often polarized the show's unflinchingly loyal fan base. But that won't stop them from wanting to dig back into the episodes with the benefit of 20/20, post-finale hindsight. True "Lost" lovers won't even bother with the episodes right away, though; they'll head for the much-hyped, "The New Man in Charge," a 12-minute epilogue that gives the audience a hint of what happens to some key characters where the series action leaves off. It's a clever piece, told with more than a few knowing winks at the audience and enough details about nagging matters (the reason for the island's problems with pregnant women, the fate of Walt, a prominent character from seasons one and two) to make Dharma Initiative devotees rather giddy, even as they simultaneously wonder why they had to find out some of this news from a DVD extra rather than an actual episode.

"The New Man in Charge" is hardly the only additional piece of material found in the season six release. It also comes with several behind-the-scenes featurettes, nine deleted scenes, numerous Easter eggs, a blooper reel and the opportunity to continue "Lost"-related courses toward a "master's degree" from Lost University. The highlight, though, is the excellent, nearly 40-minute documentary "Crafting a Final Season," which takes the audience deep behind the scenes -- onto the set as cast members run their lines and wrap their final scenes, and even into star Jorge Garcia's living room as he reads the finale script -- to absorb every emotion involved in bringing the show to a close. A quartet of commentary tracks also appears, including insights from executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse during the episodes "LA X" and "Across the Sea." Don't expect to hear from them during the finale, though; the last episode, entitled "The End," features no audio accompaniment.

Then there's the complete series collection, a 36-disc, mammoth box set packaged in a case purposely designed to look like an ancient Egyptian artifact, or as close as one gets when said artifact has been purchased at Best Buy or on amazon.com. All the episodes and extras from every single season -- along with bells and whistles like the senet board game played on the show by Jacob and the Man in Black, and an ankh with a tiny message from island protector Jacob tucked inside -- are what justify the hefty price tag. Well, that and the fact that there's a whole disc -- a disc, I must note, that's hidden in the box set in a spot that requires some extensive detective work to find -- filled with three hours of even more engaging bonus features: the exceptional retrospective, "Letting Go: Reflections on a Six-Year Journey"; a fun exploration of the show's fandom called "Planet Lost"; a featurette that captures composer Michael Giacchino leading his musicians through the final day of recording the score (and making Cuse and Lindelof tear up in the process); and much, much more.

So is it worth buying the complete series? Yes, for some. If you've got the disposable income, are a "Lost" collector or lack some of the seasons on disc, the set is certainly worthwhile and won't disappoint. The financially challenged might want to hold off, though, at least until it's time to start hinting around for holiday gifts.

With both DVDs, but particularly the complete series collection, we now finally have the chance to absorb "Lost" in its entirety, as a TV epic that certainly stumbled on more than a few occasions, but ultimately engaged the hearts and minds of its fans to a degree that may never be matched.

"I hope that in hindsight, people will feel like the journey was worth it," Cuse says at one point during the "Crafting a Final Season" documentary. After revisiting the series via either one of these DVD and Blu-ray sets, most Oceanic 815 loyalists will conclude that, lingering questions and all, it absolutely was.

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