If you have HBO, you’ve probably seen the ads for the network’s upcoming Rapture-themed summer series ‘The Leftovers’. Like many viewers, you may have thought the show looked interesting until the dreaded screen credit: “From Writer and Executive Producer Damon Lindelof.” Are you still willing to give the series a shot, or is Lindelof’s name so toxic at this point that you’re immediately repulsed by his involvement?
For at least the first five seasons, ‘Lost’ made nerd icons out of writers and co-producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. Unfortunately, the sixth season, and especially the series finale episode, were incredibly divisive among fans, to the point that many claimed to regret ever watching the show at all.
The two producers later decided to pursue separate projects. While Cuse has found new success with ‘Bates Motel’ on cable, Lindelof went on to write (or polish as a script doctor) garbage screenplays for lousy movies including ‘Prometheus’, ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ and ‘Star Trek into Darkness’. Exactly how responsible Lindelof was for the problems with those scripts is up for some debate. (Apologists may argue that he only wrote what he was hired to write.) Nevertheless, among countless sci-fi and genre fans, the name Damon Lindelof is anathema.
So now we have ‘The Leftovers’, based on a novel by respected author Tom Perrotta (‘Little Children’), who also serves as co-creator and chief writer. With glossy production values and an impressive ensemble cast featuring the likes of Justin Theroux, Christopher Eccleston and Liv Tyler, the series looks like another must-see prestige drama from HBO.
Except for that damned Damon Lindelof credit.
Personally, I will defend ‘Lost’ right to the end, including the finale. However, as time has passed, it sure looks like most of the best parts of that show were probably Cuse’s doing. Aside from some passable touch-up work on the could-have-been-much-worse ‘World War Z’, Lindelof’s feature film output has been pretty dreadful. The screenplay for ‘Prometheus’ is one of the worst ever written.
I’m inclined to give ‘The Leftovers’ the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps television is Lindelof’s strength, and he’s learned some lessons from the fan reaction to ‘Lost’ and the aforementioned movies. Or perhaps Tom Perrotta’s involvement will be enough to cancel out Lindelof’s worst instincts. But I certainly understand the knee-jerk skepticism that many will feel toward it.
‘The Leftovers’ premieres June 29th on HBO.