CB’S POV: Trying to Get “Lost” Again (“Manifest”)

Montego Air Flight 828 takes off on a routine flight to New Your City, unexceptional except for a brief episode of extreme turbulence. When it reaches NYC airspace it is redirected to a nearby airfield, where the plane is immediately surrounded by armed military personnel and government representatives dressed in serious suits. The passengers want to know what is going on and they are informed their plane took off in April of 2013. It’s now November of 2018. Where have they been for the last five and a half years?

The passengers don’t know and neither do the government people poring over Flight 828. But some of the passengers are hearing voices saying ambiguous things (“Stop,” “Free them”) that compel them to do things that prove beneficial in unexpected ways. Then the passengers are inexplicably compelled to go to the airport where their plane is being held when—

To find out what happens next, you’ll have to catch the first episode of Manifest (Monday, 10 Eastern on NBC, also available On Demand). At first blush the show is most reminiscent of the 2017 short story contest sponsored by XPrize and All Nippon Airways where entrants wrote about what happens to a passenger on a flight that takes off from Tokyo in 2017 and lands in San Francisco in 2037. There are also quite a few elements of the show that seem lifted directly from the show that seems to have defined virtually every genre show since its debut: Lost. The lives of the passengers are mysteriously interconnected (Example: a child, suffering from cancer with only six months to live—in 2013—is eligible for a new treatment available in 2018 that was developed (back in 2013) by… another passenger on the same flight…). There is even recurrent numerical connection like the numbers on the hatch of the plane in Lost, the number 828 seems to be mysteriously significant....

Manifest could also be a reversal of the recently-canceled ABC show The Crossing, about refugees from a future dystopian America who wash ashore (literally) in the present-day Pacific Northwest. And it also has soap opera elements that are perhaps written that way just for the sake of building suspense. (Example: your significant other is declared dead. After a decent period of mourning, you meet someone—and then your other BAE returns from the dead. When do you tell them about your new boo? When do they get around to asking, “So, since you thought I was dead... Are you seeing anyone?”) And we still have yet to learn where they were for the last half-decade.

Manifest may not be the most original new show on the air this year (so very few are) but it’s worth a look, just to see can they create a “new” (or at least new-ish) genre mystery or will it just get hopelessly Lost like FlashForward. And Alcatraz. And…

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