‘The Leftovers’ Microwaved for HBO

by Lisa Waugh

I was so frustrated by the randomness of HBO’s new series The Leftovers that I downloaded the audiobook and listened to it on a long road trip. I was even more frustrated as I listened to the dead ends of the book’s storylines. A mundane drip drip of the dazed and confused, aimlessly wandering about.

The story kicks off with a very interesting premise, 2% of the world’s population suddenly disappears. In this version of the Rapture, the disappeared are a random smattering of non-believers and believers, young and old, goodies and baddies, leaving those left behind feeling like jerks for being so summarily rejected.

This was me during last week's episode.

This was me during last week’s episode.

That’s where the book and the HBO series part ways. And I’m glad for that. The book plods. The show hopscotches through madness. I can’t help feeling that there was better middle ground.

Of course, I’m only on episode 4 so maybe this gets Breaking Bad good later. Probably not.

The author Tom Perrota and series creator Damon Lindelof save the show from the drip of the book, replacing it with scattergun storylines that evoke more irritation that curiosity.

Well cast with Justin Theroux as Kevin Garvey, Amy Brenneman as Laurie Garvey, Liv Tyler as Meg Abbott and Christopher Eccleston as Matt Jamision plus an impressive host of character actor favorites, The Leftovers is definitely watchable but you’ll be pausing a lot. Maybe to scratch your balls. Maybe to pee. Maybe to flick through Twitter.

The patchwork and flashes are distracting.

Between the white clad, chain smoking Guilty Remnant and the hallucinating/possibly prophetic police chief (Theroux), there are many good places to land. But if the last episode featuring the always wonderful Christopher Eccleston as a lost pastor is any indication of the ensuing anxiety I’m going to feel, the series might be hard to belly up to on a weekly basis.

The Leftovers might best be consumed on a binge.