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The Premiere of HBO’s The Leftovers: What’s Not to Like…?

by Darwyn Carson
June 29, 2014 3:14 AM
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Photo Courtesy of HBO

The Leftovers jumps deep into a mass of angst gurgling inside nearly everyone ‘left’ untouched after what may have been The Rapture swept the planet and 2% of the world’s population disappeared without a trace. If not tormented, people are in denial, if not in denial, they’re in a cult. There are personal hells-a-plenty to go round.

Now… three years after “The Sudden Departure,” government officials proclaim that it’s time to stop grieving… that everyone is ready to “feel better.”  Naturally, the date of the occurrence, October 14 is set aside as “Heroes Day.”

In the small town of Mapleton, New York, this means a parade down Main Street, complete with speeches by the mayor, bereavers-of-note, and a reading of the names of the departed.

All to the good except for the small but growing contingent of a sectarian-like group, the Guilty Remnant or GR who silently hike around town, chain smoking cigarettes and stalking the surviving family members of those who have vanished. They don’t really do much of anything except show up everywhere, paint the town white and stare—a lot.

An air of combativeness inhabits their quietude, however, as if they are judging folks who are striving to return to some degree of normalcy. They find fault without actively appearing to do so and yet appear hurt and confused when antagonistic members of the community become physically aggressive with them.

In this clip, Chief of Police Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) attempts to warn Mayor Lucy Warburton (Amanda Warren) about the dangers of the upcoming celebration.  Wonder if she’ll heed his advice?    

Bestselling author (Election, Little Children) Tom Perrotta scripted the pilot, based on his novel, with series co-creator Damon Lindelof.  Perrotta says the book “became an examination of collective grief, and I realized I was writing about a search for meaning in the wake of a terrible mystery. What would an authentic contemporary American religious upheaval look like?”

Episodes One to Three—The Wrap Up:  What’s not intriguing about a light shone on a Rapturesque event in a way that questions everything we’ve ever thought that event would be? Religious and ideological concepts are stretched, pulled apart and reconnected without, dare I say, any disrespect.

There are no slackers in the ensemble to be sure: Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston and Liv Tyler, among others, join Theroux and Warren.

In a summer that’s threatening to boil over with dark material, HBO’s The Leftovers certainly isn’t the darkest; I only wish I felt a bit of hope for someone about something in the town of Mapleton. Right now, there is nothing save despair and more despair. Still, with numerous characters and ghost subplots galore, maybe a tiny light will seep into one of the story-lines. There’s still time.

The Leftovers debuts Sunday, June 29 — 10:00-11:15pm, Eastern and Pacific. There are ten episodes.

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  • ROBERT S | August 2, 2014 4:47 AMReply


  • Random comment | July 18, 2014 7:59 PMReply

    I just silently hope it won't be some religious bullshit. Why would anyone join the GR sect after being stalked? TV show forgot that there're now laws against it.

  • Robert Edwards | July 5, 2014 12:51 PMReply

    On TV or in the movies, when a protagonist's teenage child requests permission go to a party, and assures mommy/daddy that said party will be chaperoned and safe, can any viewer IN THE WORLD not know WITH CERTAINTY that that party will turn out to be an orgy of liquor and sex?

    Answer: no. Parents are morons. Parties are orgies. Easy cliches, both.

    Most times I give myself three episodes to decide if I like a new series. With Leftovers, however, one was sufficient. Life's too short to waste on this dreary, cliche-riddled mess.

    Okay, HBO, you gave us Game of Thrones, so you're entitled to one huge disaster. Just, please, don't screw up this badly again.

  • David Nairne | July 4, 2014 1:35 PMReply

    I find myself transfixed by the world of The Leftovers. When trauma strikes a civilization or in this case multiple species the reaction to that trauma is as likely to fracture as it is to unite. We are presented with an event where three years on no explanation seems to fit. It's a sad a cruel world where uncertainty and pain abounds. The little town feel gives us a fascinating look into group psyches. What happened why did it happen could it happen again. The originality and courage of this production makes me look forward to more. Bonds have been broken in The Leftovers. What can we trust if "They are not our dogs anymore"

  • Tyler Davis | July 1, 2014 1:57 AMReply

    I watch every new cable series that starts.

    I can say without a doubt, that the premiere episode of "The Leftovers" is by far the absolute worst, boring start of a cable series that I have ever seen in my existence on this Planet.

    I could go MUCH more in to this, but what is the point.


    I suffered through the 1 hour and 14 minutes of the 1st episode, but at least I won't have to suffer through 1 more minute of this BORING show any more.

    Oh, did I mention it was boring? Only twice above, so I absolutely must say it again.


  • Frank | June 30, 2014 3:52 PMReply

    Religion or anything influenced by the subject of spirituality is bound to stir up emotions. It's not surprising that this topic is pulling up comments on all sides. And just like the community in The Leftovers people sometimes resort to antagonistic behavior, physical and in print. I suppose they think they'll be heard by being extra mean.

    I didn't care for the show myself; hated the thing with the dogs too and the smoking thing... well... what...? The show's not horrible. It's just not... I don't know...fulfilling maybe? There's got to be some reason to keep turning in. I'm willing to give it one more look-see. Other than that play nice people.

  • cam | June 30, 2014 8:06 AMReply

    A little slow, a little flat yet I almost liked it. Then the wholesale slaughter of dogs happened which was unnecessary and horrid. WTH? Will not watch another episode.

  • windy | June 30, 2014 7:18 AMReply

    wow! I knew this show would stir people up! But let's be honest here....people are constantly criticizing content on TV...we have to monitor what our children watch!!! So here is a show based on something meaningful that makes us think & question our faith & wwhat may be...and yes, it's's a movie guys...give it props for what it is & what it's trying to could havebeen ANOTHER zzombie movie or horror flick..but it'snot! Its got meaning & it's full of emotions & questions & characters that are believable! I loved it & can'twait to see wwhere & how this story unfolds. Great work !!

  • Len G | June 30, 2014 4:50 AMReply

    The show itself looks like it will be a hit. But, the continuous, disgusting, nauseating, smoking/cigarettes/ash trays, could very well cause me to stop watching it if they don't back off of that. TOTALLY GROSS!!!

  • Alysia | June 29, 2014 11:18 PMReply

    soo im completely confused about the show

  • gus | June 29, 2014 11:08 PMReply

    looks like somebody decided to post a bunch of times while at the same time saying the same funny thing. its a tv show...take it easy.

  • Stephanie Hart | June 29, 2014 11:00 PMReply

    Just could not watch this to the end. The first 30 minutes were disgusting and unbearable. Not interested at all in the outcome. Sorry, lost in the beginning! Trash!

  • margie redenbaugh | June 30, 2014 1:09 PM

    I love scifi but agree with all the negatives comments on here. I won't be watching again. Why are they picking on the dogs. Sadistic.

  • Marc Schenker | June 29, 2014 4:12 PMReply

    So you get an idea from the Bible about the end times and make it a secular TV series. You base it on those who are Caught Up as a precursor to the 7-year Tribulation. And you keep religion out of it. I'm a Christian, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the stupidity that permeates this thing defies description. The fact is, if you have an occurrence like this, the obviousness of what happened and what it means is simple and clear. And HBO found it interesting or fun or profitable or something to bastardize the most amazing and meaningful occurrence in human history. May I personally apologize to God for what is the best reason of all to come to Him.

  • Graham Morgan | June 30, 2014 5:13 AM

    @Marc - I noticed you posted this at 4:12PM, before the show aired. Your comments make no sense since you didn't even see the show first. For someone that proclaims to speak in "facts", you are appearing to be quite misguided. You wrote: "if you have an occurrence like this, the obviousness of what happened and what it means is simple and clear", really? How could an occurrence like this be "simple", much less "clear"! Next you go on to say (keep in mind it is *you* that stated this as "fact") that HBO bastardized " the most amazing and meaningful occurrence in human history". Guess what Marc? It's a TV show, nothing like that has happened in human history. I'm writing this to you 12 hours after you posted, so I assume you have watched the pilot by now. What did you think? Obviously there is more going on than what you pre-judged <== (see what I did there?) about the show. I watched it and found it quite interesting and entertaining. You took your Bible school "teachings" and applied them to comment on a show you didn't watch (yet?). I'd like to discuss the show with you now that you've seen it. Please get back to me at your first convenience. I hang out on the Usenet group alt.politics.scorched-earth (anything goes there, it's not a political group). Are you up for a spirited discussion? I hope to see you there, or the forum of your choice. If you don't have a Usenet reader or account, you can access the forum via Google Groups. I can't post links here, so just Google for "alt.politics.scorched-earth".

  • Freland Barkowitz | June 29, 2014 4:07 PMReply

    Ah more despair….just what we need in America right now with the dire situation in Iraq and rest of mid-east, nightly multiple killings in the city, crazed serial killers on the loose, a Congress filled with idiots, the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer! Sign me up for a slice of that HBO stuff…NOT!

  • Norm | June 29, 2014 3:40 PMReply

    Scraps for the masses...

  • bob | June 29, 2014 3:26 PMReply

    HBO's "The Leftovers" - warm 'em up and they'll be just as tasteless as they were when they were fresh.

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