As the finale of The Leftovers comes to UK screens, a Jokerslice in praise of a series that broke expectation to be something quite more than the sum of its parts… And its forebears. Includes ‘Leftover’ Spoilers throughout and up to the end of the first season.
WHILE WE’RE DELUGED WITH SUPERHERO TELEVISION SERIES, NONE PERFECT, MANY PROMISING, IT’S EASY TO FORGET WHEN THE PEAK OF GENRE TELEVISION ARCS HIT LAST DECADE. Lost was possibly the prime example, FlashForward the wasted high-level duplicate late in the game, drawing on a literary source to capture the zeitgeist while failing to avoid repetition. Currently, The Dome and its ilk are the distilled versions, leaning far more on literary roots, for instance Stephen King, while never becoming truly mystifying. And frankly, there are too many others to mention. With the 2010s came fully formed fantasy television, long removed from space and star ships, which remained resolutely terrestrial – whether that’s comics, fairytales or Alcatraz. Even the Whedonverse slowly retreated more and more to Earth, at the cost of the supernatural. Over the last 14 years, Lost may signify a high-budget transition, but its legacy remains.
When it comes to comic books, arcs are innate. Despite the continuity issues that come with multiple creators, Marvel Comics have ostensibly told a continuous storyline for at five decades (at least). Very much attempting to form their own mythology there’s little in comparison to these New Gods, certainly in the modern age. This ‘Fall’ season, shows like Constantine and The Flash are pulling and reinterpreting plot strands from their comic roots while Gotham draws on the strength and weakness of expectation; exploring broadly unknown territory pre-Batman, with the choice to either fulfil or destroy the inevitable. The trick with that show, a rather curious mix of pantomime and deadpan procedural, is not to speculate about characters too much.