lladystoneheart said: is it safe to say you don't like The Leftovers ?
I know you almost immediately followed up this question with another saying you’d just read the most recent review and can see I’ve changed my tune somewhat, but I thought it might be nice to answer this one anyway. :) My honest opinion is that episode three of The Leftovers, which has been touted by many of my peers (including in The New Yorker just today) as the episode that truly won them over to the show’s quality, is maybe the single most embarrassing episode of prestige-drama television I’ve ever seen, a failure on every level. I wrote about that here. But I was impressed by the pilot and the most recent two episodes, last night’s especially.
Writing weekly reviews of television shows is a dicey proposition. I don’t in any way agree with the showrunners who argue that the whole season should be reviewed once, at its conclusion. Unless you’re releasing it that way a la Netflix, no one experiences the show that way. You can say that’s how it’s mean to be experienced, but I guarantee you the episodes don’t just stop every 50-odd minutes into a larger 12-hour story. I like to engage with the work the same way the audience does, if I can help it. (Which is also why, even if I get screeners for multiple episodes in advance and watch them in a row, I still base my reviews only on the notes I’d taken for that particular episode. I’m reviewing what people have watched.)
However, the week-in-week-out effect is such that the impact of particularly strong or weak episodes can be exaggerated. There were many times I thought Halt and Catch Fire was hopeless, and said so, but it’s improved considerably. There were many times I was like ”Thank god, Homeland has turned the corner!” but it bellyflopped after all. Which will it wind up being with The Leftovers? I don’t know.
I will say this. Even though I enjoyed three out of five episodes, I can’t say I feel attached to any of the characters. Note that you don’t need to like them to feel attached to them — I felt awfully attached to Theon Greyjoy and Cersei Lannister, just to name a couple of examples. Note also that unlike the weaker episodes of Halt or a mid-list New 52 superhero comic, The Leftovers is not wringing phony-baloney drama out of its characters by making them all loathsome, unceasingly hostile assholes. But we’ve really only seen one side of all of these characters, the grieving side, and it’s hard to get a handle on who they are that way. If you only ever saw a cube head-on, it might as well be a square, you know? I always think back to Mad Men, and how despite the unpleasantness of so many of those characters, it was easy to engage with even the worst of them almost right away, because each of them was allowed to be so many things — charming, predatory, funny, sniveling, sad, sexy, cowardly, talented, friendly, creative, sleazy. The Leftovers are all pretty much only “upset,” and there’s only so far you can go with that.