TV picks of the week: The Leftovers

Five TV shows that will keep couch potatoes glued to their screens over the coming week.
Justin Theroux plays Mapletonin's police chief.
Justin Theroux plays Mapletonin's police chief.

Pick of the week: The Leftovers

According to various interpretations of the Bible, the faithful will be taken from earth directly to Heaven in what has come to be known as The Rapture. Those who remain will live in a world filled with terror and uncertainty.

That's the premise for The Leftovers, a new series executive produced by Damon Lindelof (Emmy Award winner for Lost) and based on the novel of the same name by Tom Perotta, whose earlier novels Little Children and Election were adapted for the big screen.

The Leftovers is set three years after two per cent of the world's population abruptly disappears with no explanation. Millions across the globe are gone for good; family members, neighbours, Jennifer Lopez, Pope Benedict XVI and Gary Busey to name a few.

Those who are left behind struggle to come to terms with both the personal loss of loved ones and the unexplained nature of their departure.

Some try to return to normal life, others turn to religion and an increasing number escape to cult-like fanaticism.

Almost everyone asks, was it The Rapture? And, if it wasn't God's will, whose was it?

Religion and science are soon pitted against each other in a fierce debate.

The show doesn't mention what the numbers are in non-Christian countries and keeps its focus on a New York suburb of Mapletonin the aftermath of the event dubbed the "Sudden Departure".

The first season will be ten episodes long and the series is set to move at a faster pace than Lost.

Lindelof says he intentionally avoided Lost-style cliffhanger episodes but hopes the show makes for steady, compulsive watching, even if the show won't be attempting to explain the mystery of the Sudden Departure.

"The show became about how different people were coping with a tragedy that also has spiritual ramifications -- supernatural ramifications," he says.

Episode one introduces us to the town residents as they weigh up the pros and cons of celebrating "Heroes Day", a tribute to those who disappeared three years ago.

At the centre of the drama is town police chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) who is struggling to hold it together as he tries to maintain peace and order in the post-Departure world.

The event has given rise to a number of religious followings and cults with their own leaders. Among them are Mapleton's Reverend Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) who preaches the people taken in the Sudden Departure were sinners, not saints.

And there's the Guilty Remnant, a group of silent, chain smoking former locals who dress in all white and live in segregation from the town while silently stalking select residents.

The Leftovers isn't the only new show employing supernatural-religious themes. Resurrection, the US remake of the French series The Returned is due on TVNZ in the coming weeks. Constantine, a show named for its avenging angel lead character is also on the way.

When: Monday, 8.30pm
Where: Soho
What: Life among God's rejects

Reality pick: The Secret Lives of Dancers

In 2012's second season of this locally made behind-the-scenes reality series, the Royal New Zealand Ballet had Spanish dancer Sergio Torrado setting all the girls hearts a-flutter and stirring up a fair bit of intrigue, not to mention the ambitions of artistic director American ballet legend Ethan Stiefel.

In this new series, some of the dancing personnel have changed a little, but the show should still provide a unique insight into the art of ballet, while taking a candid look into the dancer's lives and the juicy, scandalous stuff that goes on behind the scenes. A select few new faces get to join the ranks when the company holds its annual auditions, and the pressure is on as the company looks to celebrate its 60th year, with dancers touring nationally and internationally to mark the milestone. And then of course they begin auditions for Swan Lake - every girl wants to play Odette, but who will get the starring role?

The Secret Lives of Dancers
When: Saturday, 7pm
Where: TV3
What: Behind the tutus

Drama pick: Crisis

The question at the centre of this series is: what would you do to save your child? Betray your country? Leave someone else vulnerable? Kill? In this new American drama, which stars Gillian Anderson, Dermot Mulroney, and Rachael Taylor, it seems that some terrorist-type cell has managed to capture the children of America's most powerful adults (who are all on a class trip together) and take them hostage. It then allows them to draw these powerful players, including the President, into an international conspiracy. Mulroney plays an ex-CIA analyst who happens to be on the school trip as a parental supervisor, Anderson is a mother, and CEO of an international IT company and Rachael Taylor is her estranged sister, who is also the FBI special agent assigned to the case. Though the sisters haven't spoken for 16 years, they quickly figure out that has to change if they want to try to undo this grand blackmail plan.

Crisis
When: Tuesday, 8.30pm
Where: TV3
What: Manipulating a powerful weakness

Finale pick: Broadchurch

Despite screening a year after its British broadcast this superior whodunnit has still averaged 400,000-plus viewers an episode for the seven instalments on its way to Sunday night's big reveal. The season finale, which screens here on Sunday night and reveals who killed young Danny Latimer in the small seaside Devon town of the title, is sure to be ratings winner. It got an audience of 9.3 million when it screened in the UK.

Those who have already seen the show say there were some telling clues in last Sunday's penultimate episode, one in which Danny's parents learned that their son often went hunting, unknown to them, with his Dad's workmate Nigel after the cases lead detectives, Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller, took him in for questioning.

Broadchurch
When: Sunday 8.30pm
Where: One
What: The killer revealed at last

- TimeOut

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