Sunday, January 24, 2016

Colonized

Ever since Lost left the air in 2010, fans (like me) have been looking for a replacement--a big, exciting show with a long arc and aspects of a thriller, a mystery and a sci-fi show.  Many have tried, all have come up short.

Still, I was hopeful when checking out Colony, a new drama on USA Network created by Ryan J. Condal and Carlton Cuse.  Yes, the same Carlton Cuse who, along with Damon Lindelof, ran Lost for most of its time on the air.  (He and Lindelof have been involved in a number of shows since Lost, and from them I get the impression Lindelof was more interested in character and Cuse in plot.)

Colony starts with a familiar, domestic scene.  A family--mom, dad and two kids--in a nice house in a nice neighborhood getting ready for breakfast.  But then the dad drops an egg on the floor and seems far too angry about it.  It's slowly revealed that though this picture-perfect family lives in a lovely neighborhood in Los Angeles, the entire town is living under some kind of martial law.  It's walled off and there are strict rules about curfew and so on.  The egg was valuable because there isn't much of anything to go around, even if one trades on the black market.

As the plot goes wider, we realize that other population centers are walled up as well.  Apparently--though it's never fully spelled out--there was a moment known as the Arrival, when aliens invaded and took over.  Except we never see the aliens.  All we see are their humans proxies, who now run things and live the good life most are denied.  (For all we know there was no alien invasion, it's a cover story.  For all we know, areas outside Los Angeles aren't walled off.)

The main plot in the pilot has the father--played by Josh Holloway of Lost (who seemed poised for greater stardom, but hasn't found it yet)--trying to smuggle himself out of L.A. to find his lost 12-year-old son.  He's caught, however, and those in charge discover he's been living under an assumed named. He's actually a former FBI and military operative who specializes in tracking down fugitives.

He's taken to the Green Zone, the cushy area where the leaders live.  The proxy governor of Los Angeles (played by Peter Jacobson from House) gives him a choice--work for Homeland Security (that's what they call it--makes sense though it's a bit heavy-handed) and get his family a far better lifestyle, or he and his family can be sent to the Factory--presumably a slave labor camp (though we can't be sure).

He decides to become a collaborator with the promise if he cooperates, they'll bring him back his son. (How he and his wife lost their son is another unrevealed plot point.)  But there's another twist. His wife, played by Sarah Wayne Callies of The Walking Dead, is a member of the Resistance, so now she can track what her husband's doing and give them a heads up.  I'm not sure if I love them working at cross-purposes--it may be one twist too many.  There's also a subplot with their teenage son's activities at high school which, so far, I don't care about.

That's the pilot.  The second episode, shown last Thursday, gives a better idea of how the series will continue each week.  Holloway settles into his job, and meets some familiar faces from TV and movies, including his boss, played by Kathy Baker, a cold coworker, played by Kathleen Rose Perkins and, of all people, Carl Weathers as his partner.

Holloway proves himself a valuable asset, picking up the guy who bombed the truck he was in when he tried to escape.  The idea is they'll interrogate the perp and work their way up the chain until they get the leader of the Resistance, a chap named Geronimo.  Meanwhile, Holloway's wife tells the Resistance what's happening and they take countermeasures.  The plot was okay, but I don't really want a show that'll mostly be a procedural each week.

There's also a subplot where an old friend of Holloway's is arrested and sent to the Factory. Holloway and Callies help the man's wife and kid get new IDs so they won't be picked up.

Overall, the show isn't bad, and there's certainly plenty of mystery as to what is going on with the world.  (The proxy governor early on suggests the aliens just need to fulfill their "needs," after which they'll leave and things will go back to normal.  What does that mean?  And why didn't Peter Jacobson return for the second episode? I hope he hasn't disappeared, I like him.)

You might think the Resistance is doing the right thing, since the heavily militarized Homeland Security is pretty tough, but--not unlike Lost--it's impossible to be sure who the good guys are, since we don't have enough information regarding everyone's plans. (Not entirely unlike Billions, actually--another new show with two leads on opposite sides.)

I guess I'll keep watching, at least for a little while, but I can't see this show being another Lost. It's not even another Mr. Robot, soon to return to USA Network for its second season.

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