7.5/10 From executive producer Robert Zemeckis, who has some experience with both aircraft stories (“Flight”) and time traveling (“Back to the Future” trilogy), comes “Manifest”; a show about Flight 828 which vanishes on a return flight back from Jamaica with all passengers presumed dead. Five years later, the plane touches down as if nothing has happened for the passengers on board, with no time having passed at all. Not only did they not age during those five years but everyone back at home did and many, presuming their loved ones were dead, moved on with their lives, remarried, died, etc. My biggest fear in beginning to watch “Manifest” was twofold. First off, I was worried that this might be a rip off of “Lost”. Since that show ended eight years before “Manifest” premiered, I thought NBC (where the first three seasons aired) might think enough time had passed to try their own version and hope enough people would have forgotten eight years prior to not notice a rip off. Both shows deal with strangers on a flight having to ban together to survive while simultaneously deal with infighting and supernatural elements (smoke monsters in “Lost” vs. callings in “Manifest”). Luckily, my initial fears were thankfully unrealized as this show took a much different approach. My second fear is that like “Lost”, the showrunners behind “Manifest” would essentially make the show up as they went along and not have an ending already mapped out. That remains to be seen as I still have three additional seasons to watch but this first season has inspired confidence in me. While “Lost” had its passengers stuck on an island, isolated from the world, “Manifest” brings everyone back home and shoves them all back into a society five years later. If you watch both shows there really aren’t too many parallels from “Lost” to “Manifest” thankfully. The plot is intriguing, characters are diverse and memorable with high emotional stakes, plot twists seemingly drop every few episodes of this 16 episode debut season and there are some solid performances from the main cast members. One of the best aspects of the series is making you question what you would do in these scenarios. If you thought your spouse died in a plane crash and you remarried only for your first spouse to reappear five years later, would you go back to your original partner or stay with the new one? Many moral questions with no right or wrong answer spring from the show and it was fun to wonder how I would react in these impossible situations. With episodes coming in at roughly 42 minutes each, the episodes never overstay their welcome and no time is wasted with the excellent pacing. The show is extremely multi-layered to the point where I became worried they wouldn’t be able to resolve half of the plot threads but that remains to be seen in future seasons. As for the negatives, there are a few but luckily they don’t drastically decrease from the enjoyment of the show. Due to airing on NBC, there are definitely budgetary restrictions on a show like this which results in some cheesy visual effects. Everything from explosions, expelling water, fire, peacocks, wolves and a night filled with stars and lightning on an obvious green screen don’t exactly scream realism. There are also several individual moments throughout the season that are either insanely convenient timing or just eye rollingly unrealistic. While they don’t happen extremely often, they are still pretty glaring when they do occur. Finally, the score was fairly generic and the direction could have been more stylish with all of the visual callings that take place. Those valid complaints aside, the show is surprisingly deep as it not only balances many of the survivors coming back to friends and family but also tackles issues of government corruption, online hysteria, conspiracy theorists, second chances at life, faith vs. science, forgiving oneself and other subject matter that you might not expect a show like this to get into. I’m thankful I was recommended this show and look forward to boarding a one way flight to season two in early 2023.

#ANightAtTheRoxburghy / #PlanetOfThe828s / #OneMissedCal / #MichAtNite / #TrueCalling / #SponsoredByColdStoneDreamery

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