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Along with Desperate Housewives, Lost was one of the two breakout shows in the fall of 2004. Mixing suspense and action with a sci-fi twist, it began with a thrilling pilot episode in which a jetliner traveling from Australia to Los Angeles crashes, leaving 48 survivors on an unidentified island with no sign of civilization or hope of imminent rescue. That may sound like Gilligan's Island meets Survivor, but Lost kept viewers tuning in every Wednesday night--and spending the rest of the week speculating on Web sites--with some irresistible hooks (not to mention the beautiful women). First, there's a huge ensemble cast of no fewer than 14 regular characters, and each episode fills in some of the back story on one of them. There's a doctor; an Iraqi soldier; a has-been rock star; a fugitive from justice; a self-absorbed young woman and her brother; a lottery winner; a father and son; a Korean couple; a pregnant woman; and others. Second, there's a host of unanswered questions: What is the mysterious beast that lurks in the jungle? Why do polar bears and wild boars live there? Why has a woman been transmitting an SOS message in French from somewhere on the island for the last 16 years? Why do impossible wishes seem to come true? Are they really on a physical island, or somewhere else? What is the significance of the recurring set of numbers? And will Kate ever give up her bad-boy fixation and hook up with Jack? Lost did have some hiccups during the first season. Some plot threads were left dangling for weeks, and the "oh, it didn't really happen" card was played too often. But the strong writing and topnotch cast kept the show a cut above most network TV. The best-known actor at the time of the show's debut was Dominic Monaghan, fresh off his stint as Merry the Hobbit in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films. The rest of the cast is either unknowns or "where I have I seen that face before" supporting players, including Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly, who are the closest thing to leads. Other standouts include Naveen Andrews, Terry O'Quinn (who's made a nice career out of conspiracy-themed TV shows), Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, Yunjin Kim, Maggie Grace, and Emilie de Ravin, but there's really not a weak link in the cast. Co-created by J.J. Abrams (Alias), Lost left enough unanswered questions after its first season to keep viewers riveted for a second season. --David Horiuchi Where Have I Seen These Castaways? (click images to find out) Locke(Terry O'Quinn) Sawyer(Josh Holloway) Charlie(Dominic Monaghan) Boone(Ian Somerhalder) Jin(Daniel Dae Kim) Michael(Harold Perrineau) Sayid(Naveen Andrews) Jack(Matthew Fox) Hurley(Jorge Garcia) Kate(Evangeline Lilly) Claire(Emilie de Ravin) Sun(Yunjin Kim) Shannon(Maggie Grace) Walt(Malcolm David Kelley) Stills from Lost (click for larger image) Sawyer in action Claire and Charlie Jin and Michael Brawl Shannon Claire and Hurley DVD features Even if you saw every episode of Lost on TV--or perhaps especially if you saw every episode--the DVD set is a must-own. The episodes are presented in widescreen format, just as they were broadcast on high-definition channels. (Conventional ABC-TV broadcasts were reduced to 1.33 full-screen format.) Four of the episodes have commentary tracks by the producing team and the actors who were featured on certain episodes (Terry O'Quinn, Dominic Monaghan, and Maggie Grace and Ian Sommerhalder). The last disc has over three hours of bonus material sensibly broken into three categories. "Departure" discusses the initial creation of the series, the making of the pilot, and the cast (some characters were created to fit the actors, and Evangeline Lilly's Kate was the hardest to cast). It also includes the cast's audition tapes and photographs by Matthew Fox. "Tales from the Island" provides background material on seven of the episodes plus the boars used in filming, Jimmy Kimmel's appearance on the set, and the genesis of the Driveshaft song ("You all everybody..."). Finally, "Lost Revealed" includes two scenes cut from the season finale, 13 other deleted scenes (not identified by episode, unfortunately), a blooper reel, and the cast and crew's giddy appearance at the Museum of Television & Radio. --David Horiuchi