[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.]
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releasing the first season of #1 NBC show "Manifest" from film god Robert Zemeckis ("Back to the Future," "Forrest Gump," etc) on July 23, 2019 is notable for a couple of reasons.
First, this is the beginning of a SLEW of awesome WBHE home-video releases of Arrowverse and other series that demonstrate that broadcast networks have plenty of life in them. Second, this release-date of this traditional-season serialized drama evokes thoughts of sublime-to-ridiculous summer fare, such as "Under the Dome" and "Zoo," that networks broadcast during the extended school vacation. Fortunately, "Manifest" falls on the "sublime" end of the curve on the Paley Scale.
"Manifest" centering around the passengers of otherwise-routine Flight 828 from Jamaica to New York taking off in 2013 and landing 5.5 years later also evokes thoughts of the JJ Abrams series "Lost" and the lesser-known program "FlashForward." The latter centers around a mysterious global incident in which virtually everyone on earth loses consciousness for just over two minutes.
The following clip of the official trailer for "Manifest" S1 provides a solid overview of the concept of this series that easily passes the "one more" test while watching episodes on DVD.
The abundant feast of food for thought commences with unmarried NYPD cop Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh of "Valor" and "Supernatural") waiting for her flight in Jamaica. She is with her parents, her brother Ben Stone (Josh Dallas of "Once Upon A Time"), his 10 year-old twins Cal and Olive, and his wife Grace.
A "Sliding Doors" moment occurs when a desire for a break from her mother motivates Michaela to accept an offer to be bumped from her original flight and put on 828. Ben and Cal join her.
Although sudden extreme turbulence disrupts 828, the rest of the flight goes smoothly. The first sign of trouble is the New York flight tower seeming to be surprised to hear from the flight and diverting it to a regional airport.
These not-so-weary travelers soon learn that their roughly three-hour tour lasted much longer. None of them look or feel any older than when they boarded in Jamaica. This leads to a mix of reunions with loved one who gave them up for dead long ago and/or finding the things have radically changed.
The first aside this time is that this gap evokes strong thoughts of the MCU Thanos storyline as to that villain sending 1/2 of the global population into oblivion for a five-year period known as "The Blip." Like the 828 passengers, no time has passed for the MCU folks who return to earth.
The second aside relates more closely to the "Sliding Doors" aspect of choosing one path over another sometimes having immense consequences. The "what if" factor as to relinquishing a sure thing in the form of a booked seat on a flight in exchange for the more speculative promise of taking a future flight precludes many of us of from taking that chance.
Michaela discovering that she no longer has an apartment prompts her to temporarily move in with Ben and his family. Her other trauma relates to her best friend's husband used to being her beau. The lesson here is if you love it, quickly put a ring on it,
The rest of S1 follows a theme of connectivity that pervades the series to varying degrees. The broadest aspect of this is that it seems that at least some of the passengers are telepathically linked.
The less broad aspect of this is God or a reasonably facsimile of Him sends the adult Stone siblings and some fellow passengers on missions by putting voices, images, and other clues in their heads. Staying true to this concept in other fiction, the minion typically initially does not know how to respond to the message and first gets it wrong once or twice before putting things right.
Meanwhile, the feds are dividing their time between trying to figure out what caused the longest flight delay in history and using vulnerable passengers to fulfill an evil purpose. Along a similar line, the Stones and the other interested parties soon learn that they cannot trust anyone.
All of this culminates in an action-packed season finale with high stakes and a sense that the mystery extends beyond the passengers. We all learn of an assumed five-year plan that would produce enough episodes to syndicate "Manifest." Those of us invested in this show will only need to wait until at least January 2021 for more immediate closure as to the classic cliffhanger in S1.