‘The Leftovers’ Premieres: Stick It Out, This Dark Drama Is Worth It

Tags: Justin Theroux - Amy Brenneman - Liv Tyler - Damon Lindelof - Christopher Ecclestone

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The Leftovers has premiered on HBO, giving viewers their first look at Damon Lindelof's disturbing new show and adaptation of by Tom Perrotta's 2011 novel. If you are a complete newcomer to the concept of the series - no, it's not a sitcom about the perils of dating in later life, it's a dark and mysterious drama about the aftermath and enduring confusion following a rapture-like occurrence.

Justin Theroux The Leftovers
Justin Theroux Takes Centre-Stage In 'The Leftovers,' A Dark, New Drama About Life After An Apocalypse.

The latest post-apocalyptic drama from the Lost writer focusses on a core cast lead by Justin Theroux as police chief Kevin Garvey and his wife, Laurie Garvey, who is played by Amy Brenneman. Lindelof's reputation may be overshadowed by his poorly-received Lost ending but it seems like The Leftovers may just be worth riding out.

Set three years after a worldwide event in which two percent of the population vanished, the series looks at a town grappling with loss, religion and politics. Chicago Now praises the series for setting up an impressive premise with "a season's worth of mysteries" but finds fault with the pilot's characterisation.

"In an hour and ten minutes we were introduced to roughly 10 characters and not one of them were likable or even interesting [...] depressed people don't make interesting TV characters," wrote Devin Mainville.

More: Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux look happy and in love at Leftovers premiere

"Theroux's precarious balance of grief and tightly-clenched determination and Brenneman's exhausted sadness generally feel real, and appropriately complex," praises Kelly Braffet for Vulture

"We've seen a lot of moody, ambitious TV dramas-The Killing, Six Feet Under-but none where the mood was so much the whole point," says TIME's James Poniewozik, who is not alone in drawing comparisons to French drama Les Revenants.

"The first two episodes feel unsettled, aimless and seasick-Peter Berg's trademark jumpy-cam direction contributes to that," he continues. "Then comes the fantastic third episode, which follows Mapleton pastor Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) through a crisis of faith, all through a story as neatly and twistily crafted as a Twilight Zone episode."

"I'd be lying if I said The Leftovers didn't fascinate me," says Matt Zoller Seitz of New York Magazine. "The totality of the suffering feels new. The scale of it overwhelms, so much so that nitpicking the dialogue, the performances, or the filmmaking seems petty.

"The Leftovers practically dares you to keep watching, and feeling," he adds.

The Leftovers airs at 10/9c Sundays on HBO.


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