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The Leftovers Season One Review: The Return Of Senselessness

Where does the assiduous television addict begin with this drama? Season one of the much anticipated HBO show, ‘The Leftovers’ has wrapped up, and I am still unsure if it ever really began. I needed a little time to dissect this season, due to my lack of cognizing. Before we go any further, here’s the show description HBO has on its website:

[adinserter block=”1″]When 2% of the world’s population abruptly disappears without explanation, the world struggles to come to terms with what happened. Three years later, the HBO drama series, ‘The Leftovers’ is the story of the people who didn’t make the cut.

Based on the bestselling novel by Tom Perrotta, ‘The Leftovers’ follows Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), a father of two and the chief of police in a small New York suburb, as he tries to maintain some semblance of normalcy when the notion no longer applies. Created by ‘Lost’ co-creator Damon Lindelof and acclaimed novelist Tom Perrotta, the series is executive produced by Lindelof, Perrotta and ‘Friday Night Lights’ executive producers Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey. Lindelof serves as the series showrunner. –

The keyword in that synopsis: Lindelof.

I have told anyone who will listen about my displeasure with the way ‘LOST’ ended, and that possibly has left such a bitter taste in my mouth, that I am unable to see the beauty of this show. I lay that debacle right at the feet of Lindelof and his partner in crime, Carlton Cuse. I just do not trust that Lindelof will respect my time and effort into a show that promotes bewilderment, destruction, and utter ruin. I am like a child that has been abandoned – It will be hard for me to trust Lindelof again.

In ‘LOST,’ I never found out why Walt was so important. I do not know why some people can fall in the hole and be alright, but Jacob’s brother falls in and turns into black smoke. I never found out if Kate and Jack were supposed to be together all along, or if Kate was really supposed to be with Sawyer… so many unanswered questions from a show I once loved. Going into the debut of ‘The Leftovers’, I did not want history repeating itself. Yes, I am an infant. I am going home without taking the proverbial ball, because in this case, there is no ball.

Before the start of episode six, “Guest,” a video/commercial aired for a company that helped those who were left behind deal with losing their “departed” loved ones. This made me harken back to the Dharma Initiative on ‘LOST’. I felt like I needed a company like that to help me get through this season.

I’m not sure if I am making an interesting correlation, or if I am just seeing similarities due to Lindelof’s involvement… and therein lies my dilemma.

I watch television to be entertained. There is no need for full gratification, but there does need to be an accomplishment of exultation, in order to capture my full attention. Sometimes that entertainment can end up being gangsters killing each other, zombies destroying the world, or two people finding true love… no matter what, entertainment is the epicenter.

All of the characters were so sad and/or angry, which is one of the reasons I feel that this season was so contemptible. Case in point: Watching someone get stoned to death is not enjoyable. That opening scene in episode five “Gladys” was very hard to watch. The scene was unnecessary. It was like the writers included it because that’s what good television is.

The only bright spot of this initial season was episode three, “Two Boats and a Helicopter.” Reverend Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) was given a timeline by the bank to come up with enough funds to save his fledgling church. That seems nondescript, but that episode was honestly as good as anything I have seen all year. It was simple… so simple that you did not need to know the plot hierarchy, or even the names of the characters. It was a desperate man resorting to desperate measures, and coming up short in the end. It was beautifully orchestrated storytelling that could have fortified a season that did not have the best start.

The entire season should have told impactful stories in one-episode arches. Maybe the debut and finale could have merged things together. Instead, all we were subjected to were questions, on top of questions, and visual confirmation that losing a loved one is profoundly excruciating. Episode three was the apex. The rest of the season toiled in the sort of muddle that Lindelof made us accustomed to, with ‘LOST’.

What exactly are the Guilty Remnant? Why do they want everyone to “remember?” People vanished without a trace; I am pretty sure that is hard to forget. Also, why were we subjected to this crazy man Wayne Gilchrest (Paterson Joseph) running around impregnating Asian minors? That’s entertainment? I am sure the writers are going to explain this man’s existence in a way that is suitable to the views (yeah right,) but I felt like I was a party to child molestation or something. I would not have been surprised if Chris Hanson popped out from behind my television and started asking me questions.

[adinserter block=”2″]I am not the only person who strongly feels this show lacks meaning and direction, but there are an equal number of people who think this show terrific. I would love for someone to explain why. I am not sure I can be moved off of my position, but I would love to see the effort. I watched every episode, and came away confused and slightly angry. Telling me ‘The Leftovers’ is good, is like telling me Andy Dick is funny, or that I should care what Khloe Kardashian is doing tomorrow.

Again, I am seeing this show through jaded eyes and it is hard to fix my perspective. I am not even sure if my viewpoint needs to be fixed. I might be a little biased, but does that mean my takes aren’t totally on the money? There is simply too much buzz (both bad and good) for me to just ignore the show. According to the Huffington Post, ‘The Leftovers’ has been renewed for a second season by HBO. My nightmare starts all over again.

Jack Gotta
Follow Jack on Twitter @JackGotta


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