By the end of the La Brea pilot, the viewer (and some of the characters) realized that the folks who fell in the huge LA sinkhole (if you haven’t seen the pilot, that sequence is awesome) are stranded in the past. Given the series title, this wasn’t a shocker, but it was still cool to see a glimpse of a well known prehistoric creature. Yay saber-toothed tiger!
The second episode covers the day after the sinkhole. I’m wondering if the show will employ an episode for each day system or if this is just a convenient way to start the series. While this episode was entertaining, it leaned heavily on a lot of TV tropes, including the ‘we’ve got to get back right way with this life saving medicine’ and the ‘save yourselves heroism move.’ At one point, my mind flashed to the “Kim attacked by the cougar” detour in 24.
The episode does a better job of building the mystery backstory behind its stranded characters, which reminded me of Lost. Some of them land much better than others, but it gives you a reason to invest in the characters. While shows tend to try to draw these questions out too long, I actually feel the show may have revealed too much too early in the police officer’s case. Aside from that plotline, this episode poses many intriguing questions about the characters.
One of my favorite parts of this episode was how it handled the full reveal of the castaway’s predicament. Rather than rely on a character coming to the answer in an unbelievable logical leap, the episode earns it by taking its time to lay the groundwork. The geek in me also liked the CGI saber-toothed tiger, who plays a bigger role in this episode. I feel the writers twisted themselves a bit to resolve that situation, but they had me at saber-toothed tiger.
While this episode focused most on the people in the past, the present day fills in a lot of details. I feel like the writers might have given up too much information about the government’s role in this too early and am wondering where the present day plot goes. I’m also not sure how the convenient flashbacks to the past work, but I guess I can’t be stingy with my suspension of disbelief for a show about people who get stuck in prehistoric times by somehow falling through a sinkhole and not dying.
If you haven’t seen La Brea yet, I recommend starting with the pilot. While not on par with Lost (few shows are, ending aside), I see similar ambitions – a high concept sci-fi show that is driven forward by its character’s backstories and relationships. While Lost got bogged down in unanswered questions (polar bears?), so far La Brea seems willing to pull back the curtain.
This episode of La Brea will air on October 5th at 9pm in the US.
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