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Manifest (NBC)

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by Adam Lenhardt, Sep 24, 2018.

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  1. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    Manifest_S01_001.

    The latest attempt at a high concept thriller to recapture the hold "Lost" held over audiences, NBC's new drama clearly owes a great debt to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370:

    When Montego Air Flight 828 landed safely after a turbulent but routine flight, the crew and passengers were relieved. Yet in the span of those few hours, the world had aged five years and their friends, families and colleagues, after mourning their loss, had given up hope and moved on. Now, faced with the impossible, they’re all given a second chance. But as their new realities become clear, a deeper mystery unfolds and some of the returned passengers soon realize they may be meant for something greater than they ever thought possible. From Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke, Jeff Rake and Jackie Levine comes an emotionally rich, unexpected journey into a world grounded in hope, heart and destiny.
    The new series premieres tonight at 10/9c after "The Voice".

    It is shot in Queens, and executive produced by Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke, Jeff Rake, and Jackie Levine. Rake created the series and serves as showrunner.

    The nine minutes of the pilot prior to the first commercial break have been posted on YouTube:
     
  2. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I did DVR the pilot and will be watching this tomorrow and will report back here with my thoughts.
     
  3. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    The pilot definitely had me hooked "The 4400" (people ripped out of one time and deposited in the future, with abilities) meets "Flight of the Navigator" (siblings who were once close in age now separated by years as a result of time displacement).

    It's not a cast that will blow you away, but there aren't really any weak links, either. The show mainly centers around one family that was on vacation in Montego Bay: a middle-aged couple, their two adult children, their daughter-in-law, and their twin grandchildren. Their scheduled flight ends up getting overbooked. The two adult children and the boy twin Cal, terminally ill with leukemia, accept $400 vouchers to wait for the next flight. The rest of the family goes on ahead as scheduled.

    The later flight is hit with a massive electrical storm that did not appear on radar. The plane experiences massive turbulance, and the plane experiences complete power failure. Everyone is braced for the worst, but fortunately there is no mechanical damage, and once they get the engines started, lights and power return to the cockpit. The remainder of the flight goes by uneventfully. However, when they enter New York ARTCC airspace, it becomes clear from the air traffic controller's response that something is very amiss. They are denied permission to land at JFK, as scheduled, and are instead directed North to Stewart International in Orange county, the former air force base. When they deplane, they are met with a massive law enforcement presence. Somewhere along the three and a half hour flight for the people aboard the plane, over five years went by.

    After extensive interrogation, in which all passengers on board corroborate the story above, federal law enforcement still has no basis to file charges. As the 72 hour window to hold them without charges approaches its limit, the passengers and crew are released into the care of family members.

    The adult siblings learn that they middle aged mother has since passed away, and their middle aged father is suddenly elderly. Cal is reunited with his twin sister, Olive, but she towers over him now; they were born at the same time, but there's now more than a five year age difference between them. He is still a sickly ten-year-old, while she is an athletic fifteen year old, deeply traumatized by the disappearance of half her family. Their aunt, Michaela, discovers that her fiance has married her best friend.

    As the passengers and crew attempt to reintegrate themselves into a world and lives that have left them behind, strange things start happening. They hear voices in their heads, their own voices, telling them to do things. A mass onset of schizophrenia? Except the voices know things they themselves could not possibly know.

    And whatever forces are manipulating them, first by snatching them out of one time and depositing them in another and then by depositing messages in their brains, don't want too many questions. Compelled, all of the adult passengers gather just outside the security fence at Stewart. As they watch, the plane that carried them through the unknown begins to self-combust. And not just regular explosions, that would leave plenty of evidence and debris in their wake. This is a white phosphorus kind of burn, igniting and vaporizing everything in its wake. In moments, the plane has vanished right in front of them.

    Given the so-so reviews, the pilot was actually a lot better than I expected. There were basically two "Twilight Zone"-esque plots competing for attention: the plane skipping ahead five years, and the voices in the passengers' heads in the aftermath. Both kept my interest.

    My fear is that this will be like "Designated Survivor", where a really compelling premise gets sunk by subpar execution. But I'll definitely be back next week.
     
  4. JQuintana

    JQuintana Banned
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    We watched last night and the did pull us in. We'll give it a try and see if it stays solid or runs off the rails like so many big concept shows like this, Hoping for the best.
     
  5. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Producer

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    I thought the pilot was a prime display of the problems with network television. Bland, boring, and…bad.

    You can work backward from the pilot to the boardroom which birthed the show. You can see the strings held by the executives. It’s like someone took The Leftovers, stripped away all of the nuance and utter brilliance, and crammed what was left into the This Is Us mold.

    Almost every actor on the show was wooden and flat. The actress playing Olive (the twin daughter) was the only actor who reacted to anything going on in the scene. None of this is surprising, though, given the script quality. The dialogue is boring on the page, and so it’s boring on screen. Watch the scene on the airplane again. Have any of the writers/showrunners been on a plane before?! Nothing in the scene even remotely resembled real life. The guy asking for a drink after the turbulence? Was that supposed to be a laugh line? Hilarious. The bit about the detective ex-boyfriend on the TV talking about the missing persons? It was like he was literally reading his lines from a cue card (and this was clearly not done to emulate “in real life cops aren’t all great public speakers”).

    I’m not going to even touch the voice over “acting.”

    The pilot was also shot and edited in the most boring “style” possible. Far below serviceable (i.e. 90% of network TV), the pilot was aggressively uninteresting stylistically. I’m not saying every episode of television needs to be like Mr. Robot or Legion, but it’s not too much to ask that we get something a little more interesting than shot/reverse shot. I’m there were a few two shots, but man I don’t remember them. The colours were slightly desaturated for no reason other than it’s part of the “look” from This Is Us (and it doesn’t make much sense there, either), and I assume someone thought, “hey, goods shows desaturate their colours, so let’s do that too!”

    Go back and watch the LOST pilot. Seriously, go back and watch it. Now compare that pilot to this one. The quality levels are incomparable. The quiet moments in LOST (e.g. Kate stitching up Jack) were effective and interesting. There was nothing like that in the Manifest pilot: all we got was tired melodrama (not only are they doing the boyfriend/fiancé has a new love interest plot, they are doing it twice!). And of course there’s a sick kid.

    Hard pass for me until I read the show has moved well beyond its pilot’s quality.

    Your time is better spent binging Maniac on Netflix.
     
  6. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Thanks for the reports. I thoroughly enjoyed LOST. Quality-wise, this sound more like an Under the Dome. Probably pass. And watch those Twilight Zones again instead.
     
  7. EricSchulz

    EricSchulz Producer

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    I enjoyed the premise of the pilot. Unfortunately I saw the “set them free” storyline coming from a mile away. I’ll definitely watch this for the next few episodes to see where it goes. High concept tends to go down in flames very quickly...no pun intended.
     
  8. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    ^^
    Did the plane disintegrate or or just blowup and catch fire?
     
  9. tempest21

    tempest21 Stunt Coordinator

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    Interesting. I plan on riding this series out if NBC executives don't manage to interfere and screw with this series as they have so many others. I remember how they just up and canceled various TV shows in the past like Surface, The Event and SMASH.

    TonyD, the plane blew up, it didn't just catch fire or disintegrate.
     
  10. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    I agree with Josh's general gist that it's not prestige cable drama quality; this is a network drama through and through, with all of the limitations that suggests.

    But I didn't think it was anywhere near "Under the Dome" bad.

    More in the range of ABC's recently cancelled "The Crossing", or "The Event" from a few years back. The concept caught my attention, and the execution (at least in the pilot) was serviceable enough to keep my attention.
     
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  11. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I enjoyed it. It held my attention and kept my curiosity up about where it's going, so I'm in for the ride unless it sputters dangerously off the rails.

    The ratings were very good last night which shows the ads and premise held some interest for 10+ million viewers to at least sample it. Will be curious to see how those numbers hold up in subsequent weeks.
     
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  12. tempest21

    tempest21 Stunt Coordinator

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    Pilot episodes tend to do the best for a new series but I do expect about a 20% drop-off with the second episode and then fluctuating numbers going forward. I've noticed most TV shows experience the same, such as Blue Bloods, NCIS, Flash, The Expanse, etc. It's only when those numbers continue to make a slide downward where those viewers decide not to return for the rest of the series.

    But, I think if NBC executives can manage to stay away from interfering with this series, then I think Manifest can survive. I recall how they interfered with the SMASH TV series and decided they knew how to produce a TV series a lot better then the show's producers and it ended up losing viewers and ended a second season with a cancellation. NBC executives simply have a problem with interfering with TV shows broadcast on their network that I think they have a compulsion to actively interfere with their own producers on how they think the show should be made.

    Hate to say it, but network executives need to stay in the boardroom and leave the production crews alone .... they actually know what they're doing (the producers, I mean).
     
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  13. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Network executive interference from the 'suits' ruins shows every time. I too was a fan of SMASH until it went off the rails. But then I'm somewhat of masochist (or hypocrite) because I'm currently trying to pitch two pilot scripts to production companies with deals with the networks.

    And I'm glad to hear this isn't as bad as Under the Dome. I couldn't even watch that second season.
     
  14. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I think there is a wink link. The troubled daughter and police officer, who stays on the plane, I find unconvincing. She's relying very heavily on the doe-eyed look.

    I found the show interesting, but as of one episode, it's not "must see tv." Another things that will turn ME off, is if this takes on a religious angel which it is hinting at doing. That won't be for me, YMMV on that issue.
     
  15. NeilO

    NeilO Producer

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    I enjoyed it. I think we all knew where "set them free" was leading - just freeing the dogs made no sense. I still enjoyed following them along. I hope it will be interesting. I also had thoughts of The 4400.
     
  16. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    My theory:
    Beings from the future. Either humans from the distant future, or extraterrestrials. It explains the advanced technology it would take to pull something like this off, and it would explain how the voices could seemingly predict the future. In the original timeline, the girls' bodies were probably found in the storage container too late to save them.
     
  17. tempest21

    tempest21 Stunt Coordinator

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    Please, I hope the series doesn't drive down that lane either. I wasn't a hardcore fan of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica but when the series ran down the religion freeway in the series, I excited as fat as I could. It worked for the original series because it was built into the very fabric of the show but it just didn't work for the remake.
     
  18. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Producer

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    It was built into the fabric of the re-imaged series, too. Just because you failed to see it doesn't mean it wasn't there.
     
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  19. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I don’t think this is the case because
    they are making direct references to bible verses.
     
  20. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    The characters definitely have a religious interpretation for what's going on. But somehow I doubt that will be the show's solution.
     

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