Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tune In or Tune Out: The Leftovers (HBO)

Damon Lindelof who was the show runner for Lost from 2004-2010, and Tom Perrotta who wrote the novels turned films “Election,” “Little Children” are the creators of the new HBO series “The Leftovers.” Perrotta is an Academy Award nominee for Adapted Screenplay; he co-wrote the screenplay Little Children with Todd Field.  Perrotta is now taking another one of his books, but wisely using the medium of television.  Throw in famed television director Peter Berg from “Friday Night Lights” for the “Pilot” episode, and it seems like you have a sure thing.

One day everyone is living their lives, and then they all just disappear in a rapture-like event. So what happened to all these people that just disappeared?  Three years later the town is about to celebrate “Heroes Day” for the folks who disappeared, and the focus of the show, at the moment, is on one town in New York.  Critics were divided on this show, let’s delve into the show, and mind you they have probably seen four episodes, while I have only seen one.

What Works:
The deeply spiritual theme sets the show in motion, highlighting a town in emotional chaos that have lost their loved ones and a cult who do not speak, and in fact hold up signs at the ceremony stating “stop wasting your breath.”  This is coming from an atheist too.  I think there is a lot to explore here, and it will delve into a richer layer of what happens next, the same way Six Feet Under did.

This show has a hook, you take an extreme traumatic event, and explore the way in which it affects the characters within the show.  The show is rich with great characters to explore, and there are a lot of great actors who can sink their teeth into this material including Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Ann Dowd, Liv Tyler and many more. 

The spiritual nature of the show is fascinating, and I think it will make for an interesting series, although maybe this would have been a better mini-series.

What Next/Entering the Vague:
There is a lot that still needs to be explored, and some characters.  Who is Wayne, and what did he do to help the Congressman get over his grief?  What is going on in his compound?  What is the history to the formation of the cult, or their mission?  What’s going on with the dogs?

The show has me hooked on many levels, but Damon Lindelof’s involvement is both exciting and nerve wracking. I just hope he doesn’t bring out some smoke monster.  The thing that sets my mind to ease is that he will be working with the author who wrote the book.

The one thing that people will cite as problematic is the morose nature of the show.  Yes the show is not an upper, and I waited until Monday night when I was in a good enough mood to watch it, but I think the tone works, especially based on the material. 

I think the show has a ton of potential, but can it sustain for a long period of time.  Maybe if they explore other towns, which it seems like they might.  I will be back, maybe not right on Sunday nights, but I will be back to watch.

Tune In:  The show has strong enough points to help merit continuing watching, I think the premise mixed with the intensity of the subject matter is a great blend.

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