The first 10 minutes of NBC’s upcoming mystery drama, Manifest, have been made available online, as a way to entice viewers to seek answers when the show premieres next month. Like many networks before, NBC is taking a page from ABC’s pop cultural phenomenon Lost, creating an intriguing puzzle box series with a big ensemble cast and a seemingly unanswerable riddle at its core. It even has an inciting incident featuring a malfunctioning airplane, in case you’d forgotten how Jack, Kate, Sawyer and everyone else wound up on that island.
This time, however, things are a little different. Mixing its Lost-style mystery with something akin to The Returned, Manifest creates a confounding mystery when the passengers aboard a flight experience some frighteningly turbulent air, only to land and discover they and their flight have been missing for five and a half years. While it may seem as though most airlines are striving to achieve a delay of that magnitude, they usually do so from the ground, making Manifest’s in-air delay an unprecedented event, one worthy of a spot on network television, apparently.
Because networks have been chasing the Lost formula for years, the peacock network is understandably eager to get eyeballs on the show it clearly has pinned such hopes and dreams on. And why not? The series counts Academy Award winning director Robert Zemeckis among its producers, giving it a name that can compete with the “from executive producer J.J. Abrams” line that’s been selling TV series and movies for years. But now, you can find out early if you’ll be setting your DVR to record Manifest when it premieres later in September.
The sneak peek not only establishes the main mystery behind the series — how Montego Air Flight 828 could take off in 2013 and land in 2018 — but it also gives audiences their first introduction to the Stone family; primarily, Ben (Josh Dallas, Once Upon a Time), his sister Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh, Valor), and his sick son Cal (Jack Messina). The trio are separated from their family after choosing to take a later flight, a decision that will have a lasting impact on them as the series progresses. As Michaela's voiceover says, it's “funny how one little decision can ruin your life, but also save it.”
It looks as though NBC has high hopes for its big mystery series. Whether or not this sneak peek will intrigue audiences enough to tune in remains the bigger mystery for now, however.
Manifest premieres Monday, September 24 on NBC.