The Geek Seek: First looks at Persons Unknown

TV shows that get released during the season break are a rather interesting proposition – there’s no guarantee that they’ll be bad (see: the awesome Better of Ted, RIP), but more often than not they’re thrown in that heap there likely because the networks think that they won’t do as well during the regular TV wars. Persons Unknown is one such series, having started just this week in the aftermath of Lost and right before Glee and Justified head into their breaks. So will Persons Unknown be “better off” trying to breathe in the less crowded off season, or will just barely be able to tread water before the sheer number of questions it has to answer overwhelms it and it goes sinking (without a chance to even jump the shark)?

It’s obvious that there’s a lot of Lost inside Persons Unknown – a even more Flash Forward, a dash of Fringe and a sprinkling of Heroes. I think you get what I mean – this is a show that is very purposefully built to fill that gap, and while I’m not sure how hard they tried to do so, NBC probably greenlighted the show just hoping to capture the success of Lost and its ilk. It’s strange, then, that they felt so little confidence that they released this during this period. But I’m no expert in how these things work – and hey, it’s something to watch!

And that pretty much sums it up for now – Persons Unknown is something to watch. It’s got a pretty interesting premise, about people who are suddenly, without reason, abducted from their normal lives and thrown into a ghost town. The episode really focuses on throwing us for a constant loop (a moebius loop?) – one weird occurrence happening after another that seems to have no end. It begins in an empty hotel and ends with a very surprised night manager who’s almost as confused as the rest of them.

Castwise we have the a motley collection of people, each of whom seem to fill some stereotype we get in ensemble shows. Each of them definitely has a secret they’re trying to hide, and in some weird way this feels like Standford experiment, well, not exactly, but there seems to be some weird science and experimentation going on, perhaps with Jigsaw at the head of it all. The secrets are piled on thick and fast and so we don’t exactly know what they’re up to or why they’re there – and who’s the one who’s going to betray them in the end and reveal themselves to be in cahoots. I can just feel that happening, it’s just a matter of when. And there’s Joe, who’s like Jack Shepard redux – except with a hidden past that’s possibly going to come in handy many times.

There’s also a side story to keep things mixed up where a reporter attempts to find out more about the disappearances he’s seen from the recorded security camera footage. It doesn’t go very far right now, given it’s the first episode, but I’m guessing we’ll find out more about the people behind all this through him before the main group does. Maybe it’ll all get weirder and he’ll be joining the main group?

Persons Unknown has a lot of questions surrounding it. It’s not a horrible show by far, but I wonder if, after lost, there’s some fatigue regarding shows with too many questions. After all, we know what happened to Flash Forward, and even Lost had its detractors when we didn’t get all the answers. We know how these things work, for now, at the very least, there’ll be way more questions than answers. It’s going to be hard to determine where we go from here, or if we’ll even be able to last long enough to get somewhere – but at least I’m getting going to give it a shot.


The technological backbone of, Alvin’s machinist-nature also ensures that this blog remains alive when the unpredictable Murphy’s Law comes into effect.

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