Lost: The Complete First Season (2004 - DVD)
Before I watched this DVD set, I'd only seen part of Season 5 and all of Season 6 of Lost. Whereas those seasons were pure fantasy/sci-fi, Season 1 focuses a lot more on the drama of characters trying to find ways to survive on a tropical island with no civilization after their plane crashes there. Though some fantasy elements are there from the start and more creep in by the end (especially starting with the "Numbers" episode that deals with a seemingly magical set of now-infamous numbers), most of what occurs in Season 1 tries to portray the situations as realistically as possible. Questions like: How do they find food? How do they gather water? How do they find/make shelter? How do they get medical treatment when needed? Even, How do they brush their teeth or shave? And more like this are all tended to with loving details.
Amidst it all is a wonderful cast of well-developed (and ethnically diverse) characters and a growing number of mysteries surrounding the weirdness of the island - a smoke monster, strange whisperings in the woods, a buried hatch with no apparent entrance - that make you want to keep watching to find out what happens next and what the answers to the mysteries might be. Even if not all of it got resolved by the end of the series, at least it got me hooked and got me wondering.
Also, while this show may be a fantasy scenario that most people are not likely to end up in, the flashbacks dealing with the characters' pasts put them (mostly, anyway) on a relatable level with the audience. This show was the first thing I'd seen in years that made me give serious thought to some issues in my life. And for the person who has the most mystical and least-relatable background, Hurley... well, he makes up for it in being such a gosh darn likable character.
If I had to nitpick anything it's that none of the big mysteries are resolved in this season, and if rumors that this is the best season are true that means you may have to sit through a lesser product to get some answers. The other is that sometimes it's a bit obvious this story was being made up and changed as it went along and there was no real grand design from start to finish. But other than that, it's a great start and the most compelling show I've seen since Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.