The Tom & Lorenzo Archives: 2006 -2011

Persons Unknown

Big Brother Someone is watching you.

In the weeks leading up to, and the weeks following, the Lost finale, one thing every TV critic seemed to agree upon was that we would probably never see a show like Lost again. That got us thinking. There have been several attempts to duplicate Lost's success (most recently with FlashForward) and in every case, the show failed. What was it about Lost that made it so successful right out of the gate? A central setup - a plane crash on a "deserted" island - that was easily grasped in seconds. You knew within the first couple minutes of the show how bad things were for the characters and how bad things could get for the characters. Instant tension. In addition, the show offered a good-looking cast of easily understood character types: the doctor, the girl fugitive, the drug addict rock star, the pregnant girl, the grinnin' con man. Take those two essential elements, add a couple of mysterioso plot points (polar bears, unseen "monster" in the jungle, french distress signal), and presto. You had a show that people wanted to watch.

So when all those TV critics said you'd never see a show like Lost again, we tended to disagree. The things that made Lost so successful were relatively easy to duplicate. Sure, TV is a crap shoot and there are hundreds of other factors that come into play to make a show a success, but we felt like the core concepts were easily adaptable. As long as someone's willing to keep trying them, eventually someone was going to get it right.

Well, apparently the creators of NBCs new summertime series "Persons Unknown" had the same idea. Take a bunch of broad character types (single mom, soldier, party girl, guy with a mysterious past, middle-aged businessman, etc.) and put them in a situation that is both easily understood and provides instant tension. In this case, seven strangers wake up in a deserted hotel in a deserted town and none of them know why or how they got there. It's impossible for them to leave the town (for reasons that actually make a little sense) and there are security cameras everywhere following their every move. It's a little bit The Prisoner, a little bit Lost, with a little bit of Saw-style horror techniques thrown in.

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: we make absolutely no predictions about the future quality of this show, nor are we comparing it to Lost on anything but a base level. It remains to be seen how good this show will be going forward, but we have to say, by the end of last night's pilot episode we were left intrigued and willing to put the time in, especially since the creators seemed to have learned the other important lesson from Lost and are promising that everything will be answered by the end of the summer. This summer.

The show is getting decidedly mixed reviews from critics, but one thing that struck us is this: the critics that trashed the pilot all admitted in their review that they hated the Lost finale. The critics who loved the Lost finale are the ones giving the pilot a tentative thumbs up. We fall into the latter category. We enjoyed last night's episode and we'll be tuning in next week. If the second episode shows as much promise as the first, then we have a new show to blog about.

Did any of y'all watch it? What did you think? Did you miss the pilot and now wish you'd watched it? Well, now you have something to do on your lunch hour. You can watch it here.

[Photo Credit::]

"Persons Unknown" on Facebook

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