Persons Unknown: I just want my kids back.

Lost giveth and Lost taketh away. The giveth is one of the best shows ever to grace our TV screens. The taketh away is hours and hours of networks trying to find the NEXT Lost. Some, like *shudder* Vanished are horrible right from the start. Others, like FlashForward start with a bang but quickly fizzle out. Will a replacement ever be found? We’re not sure, but we’ll keep looking.

The next show trying to fill that Lost-shaped hole in our hearts is Persons Unknown, which, for some reason is already drawing comparisons to that very same show. And like so many shows before it, it’s not quite as good. But yet, in the middle of all its stereotypical characters and cheesy acting, we catch a fleeting glimpse of promise. How’s that? Let me tell you.

In Persons Unknown, a group of strangers have been abducted by — get this — persons unknown. When they wake up they’ve all been placed in a small town in the middle of nowhere. They’re all alone, if you don’t count the creepy night manager at the hotel they’re staying at or the staff at the Chinese restaurant across the street. They find devices implanted under their skin. And they’re being watched by security cameras installed all over town. Who’s behind it all? Luckily there’s a reporter out in the real world looking into one of the victim’s disappearances, and I have a feeling that with a little luck, he’ll have the whole thing figured out in six or seven seasons.

Unfortunately, we may not have that long, because I have a really hard time seeing this one last past its 13 episodes. And it isn’t entirely because of the show itself. It has to do with it airing during the summer and the amount of promotion NBC is giving it in addition to that. If the show’s continued existence depended only on the content, we might have something to talk about. Because with some work this could really go somewhere.

As things stand right now, Persons Unknown seems a little too polished. It’s as if the entire show was put together with only its promotional pictures in mind. The show can’t simply tell us who these characters are, they have to show us that Jason Wiles is a little rough around the edges and has a shadowy past because, you know, he’s got stubble. I understand that certain characters have a hard time trying to break out of their types, but this cast has really got its work cut out for it. We’ve got Janet, who we can tell is deeply worried about her 5-year old because she says, “I’m just worried about my daughter,” about every five minutes. And then there’s Sergant McNair, who I have a feeling is in the Army because he’s wearing a uniform and says things like, “Sir, yes sir,” and “I’ll go do a recon.”

If the cast can forget that they all come from such different walks of life and concentrate on the fact that they’re stuck in some weird ghost town in the middle of f’ing nowhere, I think they’ll work well together and the show could potentially go far. But just like any other new show trying to find its footing, it’ll take a bit for it all to come together. Let’s hope it doesn’t take too long. Because television, just like Lost, giveth and taketh away.

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