Television is a forgiving medium. Case in point: the writing staff for Sean Saves the World will go on to get new jobs. But what about for the creator of one of television's most polarizing (well, mostly hated) series finales ever? After penning summer blockbusters for a few years, Damon Lindelof returns to television for the first time since Lost did whatever it did. His new show is The Leftovers and it's on HBO, so this collision of marquee names means it's one to keep an eye on. But should you actually invest your valuable life minutes on it? I've seen the pilot and am here to help you make that decision in another edition of This New TV Show: Hot or Not?
The Leftovers, so this is Guy Fieri's new show about what he eats out of his goatee?
I wish! The Leftovers takes place in a small New York 'burb known as Mapleton, three years after 2 percent of the global population (about 140 million peeps) mysteriously vanished. Some call the incident The Rapture, others call it something much worse, but whatever it was, everyone is pretty bummed about it. The series is a real slice o' life in Mapleton, but it focuses on chief of police Kevin Garvey and his family, as well as a strange cult that's popped up and calls itself the Guilty Remnant. And because it can, The Leftovers also includes some weird guru and a bunch of animals that have gone crazy. Embrace the strange, because there's a lot of "whaaaaa?" going on in the pilot.
Who made these Leftovers and who stars in it?
As I said above, this is Lindelof's baby, and his first series since Lost. He co-created The Leftovers with Tom Perrotta, who wrote the book that it's based on. Peter Berg, director of the Friday Night Lights movie (and Battleship *ahem*) directed the first episode and is also on board as an executive producer. Justin Theroux leads the cast as Kevin, and you'll also see Amy Brenneman (NYPD Blue), Chris Zylka (The Secret Circle), Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), Ann Dowd (who made flowers with Errol in True Detective), Liv Tyler (The Lord of the Rings), Michael Gaston (Turn), and Charlie and Max Carver (Teen Wolf).
When does The Leftovers get left behind?
The Leftovers premieres Sunday, June 29 at 10pm on HBO. It'll be paired with True Blood for a block about death that couldn't be more tonally different.
Who is going to gobble up The Leftovers?
The Leftovers is already getting tagged as the summer's most depressing show, and while I don't totally buy that (Bachelor in Paradise HAS to be more sorrowful), it's not far from the truth. Ain't no sunshine in this bag of sadness. But its dominant theme of loss makes for incredibly heavy drama, so if emotional pain (and the beauty in it) is your thing, you'll like it. If you've got one foot on the ledge, however, this will push you over.
What's tasty about The Leftovers?
Lindelof knows what he's working with here, which is a town healing from inexplicable tragedy. The anguish over "being left behind" and anger of not knowing why is well laid out in the pilot as different people handle the situation differently. Wait 'til you see what the Mapleton teens get up to. Despite it's gloomy subject matter, The Leftovers is a gorgeous watch. And the doomed atmosphere is punched up with a really great soundtrack that every depressed and angry adolescent should own. But what spices things up here are the underlying mysteries, which aren't front and center like they were in Lost, but are enough to add more to The Leftovers than perpetual despair.
What should be trashed about The Leftovers?
Like I said, this show is about loss and all the despondence that comes with it. It is NOT uplifting. It will be easy for many to see The Leftovers as unnecessary, slow-moving melodrama that bludgeons viewers with sad, sad themes. And that's not far from the truth. Most of the initial audience that comes for the mystery of why people vanished will be disappointed; that's not the point of the show nor is it even really touched on (it's three years on and most people have accepted the incident as some mystery they'll never understand). There are questions of how sustainable the series can be, too. In fact, I'd say that's The Leftovers' biggest red flag. Also, those of you offended by the F word beware! Every other word is F(iretr)uck now that the muzzle is off Lindelof.
So, should I watch it?
This is going to be a show that will be really, really enjoyed by a specific audience, but has no chance to be a mainstream hit. However, there's a fascinating season of television here if it can be handled correctly, and my hopes for that exceed my worries of a series that will meander and thin out, at least for Season 1. If you can appreciate the beauty in coming to terms with loss, then you'll like it. If not, you'll only wonder how anyone would watch such a thing.
Let's take a look at a trailer!
The Leftovers premieres Sunday, June 29 at 10pm on HBO.