Tuesday, 29 April 2014


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

There are so many great ideas that, on the face of it, don't appear to justify the long-form treatment television allows. You see it all the time in US television, where "the big idea" managed to get a pilot made and then audiences drop away when the concept just isn't elastic enough. I had HBO's The Leftovers in that bracket, because it's the story of what happens after 2% of the world's population simply vanish one day, instantaneously. It just sounds like the set-up to a brilliant "what if?" movie, but could the idea really work over multiple hours, perhaps for years?

The first full-length trailer suggests it may surprise us. Based on the 2011 novel by Tom Perotta and co-adapted by Damon Lindelof (Lost, Prometheus), this glimpse at the show feels a lot more intelligent and stylish than I was expecting. It appears to have some interesting angles on what those left behind would do if this actually happened, and I'm more excited to see what the TV series has in store. I haven't read the book, but assume it has an ending HBO can work towards, or take another approach to keep everyone guessing.

Is the book deep enough to sustain a TV series for a number of years? I'm guessing not, but have more faith in this creative team to pad things out efficiently. They will almost certainly do a better job than the creators of Under the Dome (who are likewise adapting a finite novel into a TV series expected to run for at least five years, ratings willing).

Or maybe everything in this trailer is the sum total of the most interesting moments of the first three or four episodes, and audiences will tail off when the wheel-spinning becomes obvious. The problem with shows that ask big questions (where did these people GO?) is that audiences demand answers, and perhaps don't have the patience to wait more than a few seasons. Of course, Lindelof is well-practised in the skills required to keep audiences hooked with a mystery-based show, thanks to six seasons working on Lost, so maybe he's exactly the right person to ensure The Leftovers doesn't fall apart too early.