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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Simply TV: The Leftovers

AGAIN
The Leftovers - Again

Whenever there is a new show premiering on HBO it always seems to be an event. One, their marketing team could make a show about a misplaced sponge seem interesting and the fact that TV has pretty much overtaken film as the medium of choice for A-list actors, writers, and directors says a lot. Two, HBO gives no f*cks when it comes to outlandish ideas and taking risks that no other network does, outside of FX perhaps. Three, and most importantly, HBO has two series' ending this year, "True Blood" is mercifully coming to an end after six seasons, and surprisingly, "Boardwalk Empire" is ending after only five seasons, the latest being one of the strongest seasons to date. Bottom line, HBO needs some new programming that is going to stick outside of "Thrones" and they just might have it with "The Leftovers," again another series that is a huge risk, but can pay huge dividends.

What we know about "Leftovers" after the first episode is that on October 14th, 2% of the Earth's population suddenly disappeared. The series seems like it will take place primarily in Mapleton, USA, and follow the town's police chief, played by Justin Theroux, and features antagonists like the "GRE" a chain-smoking cult which doesn't speak, and Wayne, a mysterious man who people come from all over country to seeks his guidance. There are also wild dogs, a cool phone app on the iPhone, and high schoolers using the "c-word."

Created by Damon Lindelof, of "Lost" and "Prometheus" fame, or infamy, depending on how you look at it, and Tom Perrotta, who wrote the novel in which the show is based, leave a lot of questions on the table in the series pilot, but any good show will do that. If you are looking for immediate closure on plot lines that are just opened after one episode, than this show isn't the one for you. Plenty of interesting characters are introduced, and just as it was done in "Lost" we catch brief glimpses of flashbacks when characters are introduced. There is also a certain "Twin Peaks" creepiness to the town of Mapleton. Even with it's idyllic nature, there seems to be a dark underbelly that is being hidden by the officials in charge.

While some people give Lindelof a bad rap, I've never had a real issue with him. Yes, I think he can bite off a bit more than he chew as seen with "Prometheus" and "Cowboys and Aliens" but that isn't to say that the guys doesn't have a vision. As frustrating as "Lost" might have been for millions, that didn't stop those millions from seeing the entire show through. With Perrotta as a co-writer on the show, and helping Lindelof with the showrunning duties, I believe that "Leftovers" can be an interesting watch, as long as you're willing to commit yourself to the show.

Bottom line, I think there is a lot to like about "Leftovers." I enjoyed the performances for the most part, sure, there is some overacting, namely by Theroux, and Liv Tyler isn't exactly showcasing her "range," but I think Amy Brennaman is going to be one to watch along with Christopher Eccelston, who I think is criminally underrated and I'm surprised he hasn't found more work in Hollywood. As long as HBO is willing to see this series through (I see maybe 2-3 seasons tops to finish the narrative that Lindelof might have in mind) I believe both "Leftovers" and a little show called "True Detective" will be able to carry HBO through some thin times that I see in 2015.

Fun Fact: A study in 2012 reported that Americans throw away nearly $165 Billion in leftovers, annually.

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