Thursday, September 27, 2018

Pilot Review: Manifest

Manifest (NBC)
Premiered September 24 at 10pm

Every few years, there’s a show that premieres based on an unexplained and shocking premise. Viewers are intrigued, understandably, but it’s not long before the bottom falls out and it turns out that the reasoning behind what happened isn’t nearly as interesting as the mystery itself. “The Event” was a great example that also dealt with a disappearing plane, and “Flash Forward” found that it had nowhere to go when the future wasn’t anywhere near as worthwhile as it had initially seemed. I had seen numerous promos for this show, and I’ll admit that I still found it somewhat exciting when the time-jump actually played out. From there, however, I found myself less enthralled. Michaela and the other passengers hearing their own voices telling them to do things that will ultimately save lives, coupled with her exploration of bible verses, makes this feel like an overly religion-based show rather than science fiction one, emphasizing supernatural notions over evidently embellished scientific ones. What I’ve seen thus far is lackluster, and it felt more than a little early for voiceover narration about what they didn’t know yet and how “this was just the beginning,” an obvious attempt to retain viewers for subsequent episodes. I recognized Josh Dallas from “Once Upon a Time” and J.R. Ramirez from “Jessica Jones,” and I’m sure there will be other familiar faces as the show goes on. I’m tempted to try episode two just to see if it can continue the intrigue, but I’m very dubious after how far we’ve already gotten.

How will it work as a series? That’s the eternal question, and there’s really only one show like this that worked and lasted a while, and that’s “Lost.” This show isn’t nearly as creative, and so it’s going to depend on whether what these characters are doing after the initial excitement wears off and they realize what it is that they’ve been fated to do.
How long will it last? The reviews are mixed, as is to be expected, but audiences liked it more than that. The ratings were pretty great, which I’m sure NBC will celebrate, but presumably the network is well aware that a few weeks’ sampling is needed before they can really determine if this one will actually be a hit or just an overhyped dud. I’m betting on the latter and a cancellation following the broadcast of the initial order.

Pilot grade: C+

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