It's hard out there for a hardcore "Lost" fan.
As the Hollywood writers' strike drags on with little immediate hope of a resolution, it's unclear whether a full fourth season of "Lost" will air in February as originally planned. (Only eight episodes of the 16 have been written.) In other words, "Lost" obsessives, already hungry after several months without a single new episode, now face the prospect of even more Dharma-Initiative starvation. But here's some good news: Buena Vista Home Entertainment has thrown out a little meat - or, to put it in "Lost" parlance, the equivalent of one of Sawyer's fish biscuits - to tide us all over: The excellent "Lost: The Complete Third Season, The Unexplored Experience" DVD box set ($60).
"Lost" has a passionate fan base that could put some Trekkies to shame. The show's creators know this and so did the producers of the first two DVD sets, which provided hours of quality, compelling extras to geek out to. The latest release is no exception. In addition to all 23 episodes, season three's seven discs brim with bonus features, including multiple featurettes, an hour-long documentary exploring 10 of the season's episodes, a blooper reel, deleted scenes, commentary tracks and scads of Easter eggs for the DVD scavenger hunting types. (And if anyone likes to hunt for hidden clues, it's a "Lost" fan.)
The seventh disc, devoted to nothing but extras, revels in the details that make "Lost" one of TV's best dramas. By viewing the features or one of those eggs (hint: do some creative clicking on the menu screens to find them), viewers can learn about everything from the filming of some crucial stunts to actor Terry O'Quinn's impressive knife-throwing skills.
The DVDs don't boast many plot-related bombshells; a deleted scene that reaffirms The Others' attempt to build a runway, for example, falls short of explaining why. That lack of juice is one of the few bummers about this DVD. Another: The lack of a commentary track on "Through the Looking Glass," the stunning season finale, or any sort of tribute to the late Charlie Pace (Dominic Momaghan), who perished in the same episode. Unless, of course, it's included in one of the Easter eggs I have yet to uncover. Like any "Lost" fan, I know there is never an end to the searching. And if season four gets curtailed or, worse, postponed entirely, we'll all have plenty of time to stay on the hunt.
Best Bonus: " 'Lost' in a Day" devotes 25 minutes to documenting the workflow for the "Lost" staff. It's an enlightening snapshot of the TV production process - various departments work on no fewer than seven episodes in that 24-hour period - and a sobering reminder that, during the current strike, virtually all of these people remain in limbo.
Most Mind-Blowing Easter Egg: Those clamoring to see the freaky, brainwashing film from the episode "Not in Portland" are in luck: All 2 minutes 59 seconds of it can be viewed on one of those disc-seven Easter eggs.
Bonuses Past: You have always wanted to watch "Lost," but are hesitant to start with season three? That's what DVD is for, my friend. Report immediately to seasons one and two and you'll be caught up in no time, especially if TV continues its stretch of reruns and reality programming.