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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

TV Watch: Persons Unknown

We stumbled onto Persons Unknown in a way similar to how we found Harper's Island in that it's a recent TV offering we got through Netflix Instant. Having just completed a run last August, it's already on Instant in what might be a bid to get some support for a second season.

Having just watched the last episode recently - I wouldn't hold my breath.

Persons Unknown is a clearly a post-Lost vehicle, shoving random people into a bizarre situation against a somewhat ambiguous and nameless enemy. Instead of an island getaway, our heroes get stuck in a town in the middle of nowhere where they are essentially the only residents and leaving seems impossible.

If you don't want any spoilers, then let me just summarize with this: if Lost's great trick was to convince viewers that the writers were going to explain themselves for six seasons - that's clearly one more trick than Persons Unknown is capable of performing, as you'll find yourself questioning the plausibility of mere scenes, much less the entire season. While the acting is generally pretty good, nearly everything else about this show falls apart after the first few episodes.

For example: in a scene later in the season a character rallies the rest to try and leave the town. He does this by whistling, after which every other character in the town opens the door from a different building and starts to follow him in a group. Why were they all waiting in different buildings for a whistle? We do not know.

Which is just one example of lazy writing which culminates in the season finale, which is quite possibly one of the worst ever written.

Really bad spoiler alerts. Seriously, if you don't want to know what happens in the finale stop reading now.

Ready? Ok.

Having escaped the town (warned you), the previously imprisoned hijack a van and then subsequently crash. That's actually the event which leads to the finale, but what occurs in between the van crash and the finale is potentially the worst plot hole in TV history. Drive a truck through it? You could fly Darth Vader's personal Star Destroyer through this. One character ends up back in San Francisco. She at least has the excuse that she can't remember what happened. Two others appear to have stolen a car and are driving somewhere around San Francisco. Where they got the car or how is left up to your imagination. Heck, even why the car eventually breaks down is - though I guess you assume they just ran out of gas. A fourth ends up back in the hands of the enemy.

But these are just the opening wounds to the big one: two characters end up in Morocco. Yes, two of them made a transatlantic flight and are hiding out in Morocco even though another pair can't even keep a gallon of gas in a car. There is no explanation to this, nor is their any explanation as to how they are eventually re-captured (again, warned you).

The entire scene stinks of needing to shove the two characters in somewhere and thinking this would look really cool and never giving it any more thought. In other words, it is completely brain dead.

At best, Persons Unknown offers a few decent twists and decent, if completely wasted by the end, premise. At worst, it reminds how good Lost fans really had it.

Obviously - not recommended.