Make no mistake, Lost is gloss. Politely torn shirts; symmetrical scratches and blusher bruises (survivor-chic facepaint); sparkling waves; green, green trees and irksomely beautiful people.
But that’s the point. A crisp and creamy canvas to gradually smother with the kind of peculiar daubings not seen since David Lynch rewrote the TV rules with Twin Peaks 15 years ago.
“The bit where the guy gets sucked into the jet engine five minutes into episode one?” says exec-producer Damon Lindelof on one of the DVD yak-tracks. “That defined the show for us. It set up a feeling that anything could happen.”
And it does. Births, deaths, fights, funerals. Explosions, shootings, burnings, drownings. Botched mercy killings and extreme head trauma. Killer boars and bees. Invisible monsters, ghosts from the past, terrors of the present... And, uh, polar bears.
Lost is high-concept in lowest-common-denominator disguise; fictional reality TV (plane-crash survivors marooned on a Pacific island) which has the sense to nourish its schlocky soap-opera styling with pounding pace, layered scripting and an emphasis on character, character, character. All those inscrutable stares and kooky cliffhangers would be nothing without the perfectly timed, back-story flashbacks (and accompanying rrrroar).
The JJ Abrams/Lindelof/Bryan Burk episode commentaries (with superb, unexpected cuts to behind-the-scenes material) are frothy and chatty and crammed with surprisingly frank info (Jack was originally due to die in the first episode; Dominic Monaghan had a lucky escape when a chunk of burning engine snapped off a crane and crashed down a little too close; hints of real-life friction between Josh Holloway [badboy Sawyer] and Naveen Andrews, [ex-Iraqi army man Sayid]).
Although this is only the first half of Season One, if you’re a disciplined, non-E4-watching download dunce, you’ll only just be hitting the juicy stuff – and the superior, complete Region One box-set won’t be too much of a temptation. But if you’ve harumphed at the hype (6.4 million watched the first episode on Channel 4), now’s the time to finally give in, catch up and get Lost.