Tuesday, April 02, 2019

TV Tuesday: Manifest

Way back in September last year, in my Fall TV Preview, I mentioned that one of the shows I was most looking forward to was a new NBC show called Manifest. My instincts were right, and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed every episode in the first season of this twisty, suspenseful, mysterious show.

In the first episode, an ordinary American family is returning from a vacation in Jamaica: brother and sister Ben and Michaela Stone, played by Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh, their parents, and Ben's wife, Grace, and their twins, Olive and Cal. They are happy and relaxed, waiting in the lounge area for their flight home to NYC, when the airline announces (as they so often do) that they are overbooked and looking for volunteers to give up their seats and travel on a later flight. So, Mom, Dad, Grace, and Olive head home as planned, while Ben, Cal, and Michaela wait for the later flight. On that second flight, though, they hit some terrible turbulence, worse than anything anyone has ever experienced before. Finally, they get through it and continue to New York, where they land safely, though their plane is immediately surrounded by police and other emergency vehicles. After disembarking, they discover that they have been missing and declared dead for over five years. It's impossible, but there they are, all 191 people on that plane, back from a 3-hour flight. All of their friends and family have aged five years. Olive is now five years older than her twin brother, Cal. Worse, many people at home have moved onto different lives or new relationships.

There are so many intriguing pieces to this complicated puzzle.  The show is a family drama, about people readjusting to each other after a five-year absence and all the complexities that result. It's a mystery: what happened to that plane? How is this even possible? And then it takes even more of a supernatural turn, as both Ben and Michaela begin to hear voices in their heads, often telling them to do something, after returning home. It's an intriguing, convoluted, compelling story with twists and surprises - both personal and universal - in every episode. We absolutely loved it, with some of the bizarre things that happened reminding us somewhat of Lost (though perhaps with a bit more focus and purpose!). The acting is all very good, and we especially enjoyed the main characters. Jack Messina, who plays young Cal, plays a growing role as the season continues, and is excellent. All in all, we enjoyed every episode and can't wait for season two!

All episodes are still available free On Demand, if you have cable. Some of them are also free on the NBC website (looks like #1 and #12-16), while the rest need a login from your cable provider to unlock. The first season is also available on Hulu, and it looks like Amazon is trying to get it for streaming (I would check back again).  Youtube has it available for $1.99 an episode. It is available on DVD, for purchase or to borrow through your library.

2023 UPDATE: Manifest was cancelled by NBC after its third season but was immediately picked up by Netflix, with great enthusiasm from its many fans! On June 2, 2023, the fourth and final season begins on Netflix.

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