Robert Zemeckis Thriller for NBC Could Be the Next ‘Lost’

The high-concept mystery series is reintroducing the ‘Back to the Future’ director to the TV world.
Robert Zemeckis
By  · Published on January 24th, 2018

The high-concept mystery series is reintroducing the ‘Back to the Future’ director to the TV world.

The Robert Zemeckis-produced television show Manifest has gotten a formal pilot order. The Hollywood Reporter is calling the series the network’s version of Lost, and it’s easy to see why.

Manifest is being billed as a thriller set on a plane that vanishes without a trace. The aircraft, presumed to be lost at sea, eventually reemerges and although no time has passed for the passengers on the plane, five years have gone by for everyone else. The drama follows the personal lives of those involved in the disappearance, with the overhanging mystery of what really happened also weighing on them. Cue several questions about destiny and purpose, as well as an attempt to reconnect with loved ones.

While the Lost vibe is pretty strong, that popular series is hard to replicate due to the thorny mythology that made it indelibly unique (and, for some, frustrating to watch). But if Damon Lindelof has proven anything with both Lost and his follow-up co-creation The Leftovers, it’s that the concept of sudden disappearance and the consequences in the aftermath is a universal, well-loved concept.

The right writers and cast could make or break Manifest, especially as the show is intent on diving into the complicated nature of relationships lost or changed through such an inexplicable passage of time. Manifest will have to consider many moving parts, and be more efficient and clear about its mythology than Lost was.

No details about the show are available, as NBC has only given the go-ahead for a single episode. Jeff Rake, creator of the detective procedural The Mysteries of Laura, will be penning the pilot. He will also executive produce alongside Zemeckis, Jack Rapke (Back to the Future) and Jackie Levine.

Manifest is just one of the shows marking Zemeckis’s return to television after more than two decades working exclusively in film. His previous small screen credits included several horror and sci-fi anthologies in the ’80s and ’90s, most notably as a producer on HBO’s Tales from the Crypt. He is also currently collaborating on The Jetsons live-action comedy remake at ABC.

Manifest is also just one of six drama pilots and four comedy pilots ordered by NBC this season, adding to a very busy slate for the network. We’ll see if it’s one of those that make it to series.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)