Some­times They Don’t Come Back

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased out now! 2014 | 18 | Blu- ray/ DVD

Showrun­ner Damon Lin­de­lof

Cast Justin Th­er­oux, Christo­pher Ec­cle­ston, Ann Dowd, Liv Tyler, Car­rie Coon, Pater­son Joseph

With Lost’s Damon Lin­de­lof run­ning the show, The Leftovers is ex­actly you’d ex­pect: a slow­mov­ing, wan­tonly cryptic, stylishly- shot mys­tery about char­ac­ters who don’t quite act as you’d ex­pect them to in the bizarre sit­u­a­tion they’ve been dealt.

In this case, the world is learn­ing to cope af­ter one tenth of the planet’s pop­u­la­tion dis­ap­peared in the blink of an eye. Is it the Rap­ture? Is it aliens? Is it the most am­bi­tious stunt Jack­ass has ever pulled off? There are no an­swers forth­com­ing – in this first sea­son, at least. That’s not a spoiler. That’s not a pas­sive ag­gres­sive crit­i­cism of Lost’s fi­nale. Although the char­ac­ters may raise the ques­tions them­selves, The Leftovers isn’t a show about “why?”, it’s a show about “what now?” How the char­ac­ters cope. Or don’t cope, in many cases.

Be­cause it takes this ap­proach, The Leftovers also doesn’t fall into the trap of sim­i­lar high- con­cept shows such as Un­der The Dome and Flash­for­ward, where once the big spe­cial ef­fects- driven “event” that kicks ev­ery­thing off has done its job, the show be­comes a bit, well, dull af­ter that. The “Rap­ture” is han­dled in a sur­pris­ingly low- key way. It’s a clever move. It im­me­di­ately says, “This show isn’t about spec­ta­cle, it’s about peo­ple.” It doesn’t give the pop­corn crowd a false idea of what’s ahead.

And it car­ries on be­ing low- key, con­cen­trat­ing on one small town, where the Rap­ture has wrecked lives and caused di­vi­sions within fam­i­lies. A cult de­voted to si­lence and smok­ing tries to guilt- trip those left be­hind. A priest cam­paigns against the miss­ing be­ing re­garded as he­roes, giv­ing out leaflets de­scrib­ing how some were sin­ners ( he’s not pop­u­lar). A cop, Kevin, nom­i­nally the show’s hero but with de­mons of his own, tries to hold the town and his fam­ily to­gether, but fails at both.

There are shock­ing mo­ments of sto­ry­telling ge­nius, es­pe­cially in a swerve- ball penul­ti­mate episode that changes a lot of what you think you know, or when­ever the smok­ing cult pulls off some odi­ous stunt. But there are also some dull char­ac­ters, dra­matic dead ends, and mo­ments when the gears driv­ing the plot crunch with all- too- ob­vi­ous ar­ti­fice. Plus Christo­pher Ec­cle­ston at­tempt­ing a bizarre ac­cent that you as­sume is au­then­ti­cally what­ever it’s sup­posed to be, but makes him sound like a com­edy geek rather than a driven priest.

It’s all as an­noy­ingly ad­dic­tive as it is frus­trat­ingly pre­ten­tious. Just pray it gets can­celled be­fore Lin­de­lof writes the fi­nal episode…

Ex­tras Com­men­taries on the pi­lot and the fi­nale with cre­ators Damon Lin­de­lof and Tom Per­rotta; a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the pair ( 15 min­utes); a Mak­ing Of ( 29 min­utes); a fea­turette on ciggy- lov­ing cult The Guilty Rem­nant ( eight min­utes); a short preview of sea­son two. Dave Golder

The first sea­son adapts all of Tom Per­rotta’s orig­i­nal novel, and there was no se­quel, mean­ing sea­son two will be all- new sto­ry­lines.

It was the only way to make her watch Lost again.

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