The Leftovers reviewed
The writer of Lost, Damon Lindelof, returns with a mysterious new drama in which large parts of the worlds population have simply vanished without a trace.PT5M38S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3bcdw 620 349 July 4, 2014
Four years after Lost concluded, having captivated and frustrated millions of viewers in equal measure, one of its co-creators is back on the small screen with a new series for HBO.
Damon Lindelof hasn’t worked in television since the sci-fi show’s controversial finale aired in 2010 - he even quit Twitter last year, tired of sparring with aggrieved viewers still bearing a grudge. He has spent his time writing screenplays for feature films instead: Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, Cowboys and Aliens, Prometheus.
The Leftovers is some of the most desolate, despairing television on air. It’s also frequently brilliant
The good news for those who have missed Lindelof’s baffling serial twists is that he has co-created a show for TV called The Leftovers. The bad news is that although it made its debut in the US last week; it won’t be screening in Australia until October.
Amy Brenneman as Laurie in The Leftovers. Photo: ToMerlin
The show is based on a novel of the same name, and Lindelof has adapted it with its author, Tom Perrota.
It’s set in the fictional small town Mapleton, New York, three years after a rapture-like event has taken place in which 2 per cent of the world’s population has vanished with no explanation; babies, mothers, drug dealers, teachers; the Pope; Gary Busey - the event was indiscriminate.
The focus of the show is not the Departure (as it is called), but the aftermath: what happens to the people who are left? How do they get on with their lives? Do they try to explain it, or do they just move on?
Amanda Warren as Lucy Warburton and Justin Theroux as Kevin Garvey in The Leftovers. Photo: Paul Schiraldi
It’s a bit like the wonderful French series The Returned, if the actual Returned had never come back.
The first episode sets up plenty of mysteries and offers few answers. Lindelof, talking to Hitfix.com’s Alan Sepinwall, said: ‘‘If you were frustrated the last time [with Lost], don't watch The Leftovers.’’ He’s probably being a little glib: the show moves at a glacial pace, it’s true, but anyone who has watched The Wire, True Detective or any Scandi noir should have no trouble with that.
It has a fine cast, including Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Ann Dowd, Michael Gaston and Justin Theroux and has received rave reviews.
Time’s James Poniewozik admitted it began slowly and was ‘‘as gloomy as hell’’ but said ‘‘then comes the fantastic third episode, which follows Mapleton pastor Matt Jamison (Eccleston) through a crisis of faith, all through a story as neatly and twistily crafted as a Twilight Zone episode.’’
The AV Club's Todd VanDerWerff wrote: "The Leftovers is some of the most desolate, despairing television on air. It’s also frequently brilliant."
Plaudits like these and Lindelof’s involvement have created a real buzz, but pay TV channel Showcase, which have the rights to the show in Australia, have decided not to air it here until October.
It’s a curious - and risky - decision. At 10 episodes long, the first season will be over by then, and any answered mystery long spoilt for keen viewers by Twitter streams, Facebook feeds and recaps on US entertainment sites.
Fast-tracking shows has made a difference in the number of viewers willing to watch a show on television rather than torrenting it, Games of Thrones aside. Who wouldn’t rather just switch on the TV?
And The Leftovers, being a genre show from a genre creator (Lindelof), is going to appeal to tech-savvy viewers who are more likely to torrent than say, those who watch Call the Midwife (probably).
Showcase were approached for comment for this story but have so far only confirmed an October air date.
In the meantime, interested viewers can content themselves with Perrota’s book, the catalyst for Lindelof’s involvement. He was so affected by it, he told Hitfix, that he cried. “I very rarely have an emotional experience reading a book, but I did here.”