La Brea states early in the first episode what we’re already thinking: “Perhaps we’re simply in an episode of Lost.” The analogy cannot be avoided, and regrettably, it is not particularly beneficial for La Brea. In the 17 years since Oceanic 815 vanished over the Pacific, several series have attempted to recreate its success. La Brea is merely the latest example of how difficult it is to replicate the Lost formula.
The one-hour thriller begins with a normally horrific morning drive on Miracle Mile in Los Angeles, which turns much more physically awful when a giant sinkhole opens beneath the La Brea Tar Pits.
The sudden void swallows cars, buildings, and dozens of people, including half of the Harris family: Mom Eve (Natalie Zea) and teen son Josh (Jack Martin) fall in, while teen daughter Izzy (Zylia Gorecki) and semi-estranged father Gavin (Eoin Macken) are left searching for answers on the surface world.
Natalie Zea, Eoin Macken, Zyra Gorecki, Jack Martin, Jon Seda, Chiké Okonkwo, Nicholas Gonzalez, Karina Logue, Veronica St. Clair, Rohan Mirchandaney, Josh McKenzie, Lily Santiago, and Chloe De Los Santos make up the ensemble.
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Those drawn into the sinkhole plummet over a shimmering chasm onto a bizarre, primitive realm where saber-toothed tigers still roam and there is no phone connection whatsoever.
(Which has its advantages, as one character notes: “No more Twitter!”) Izzy and Gavin become persuaded that the catastrophe has something to do with the cryptic visions that have haunted Gavin for the past three years in the portion of Los Angeles that did not disintegrate. The Department of Homeland Security, which knows more than it is ready to disclose, is interested in his possible insight.
The first two episodes of La Brea provided to critics are filled with a breathless narrative drive. In addition to the obvious mystery of what is going on with the sinkhole, La Brea plants a number of smaller mysteries and urgent mini-crises around its verdant fields:
Will this individual make it through an animal attack? What’s with the heroin-filled Mustang? Are those prim and proper girls, Lily Santiago and Chloe De Los Santos, members of a cult or something? What is the therapist (Chiké Okonkwo) attempting to conceal? Will this guy (Stephen Lopez) ever locate his glasses?
On the one hand, all of this intricate scheming makes La Brea palatable. If you become bored exploring one peculiarity, another is always around the corner.
As effective as the series is in posing new issues, it remains unclear how well it will answer them. In episode two, a cop (Karina Logue) hunting for a missing guy is revealed to be less of a subplot than an example of the production hiding basic information for maximum dramatic effect.
When there are big reveals, such as hints about where exactly this pristine wilderness is, the show tends to repeat them multiple times, as characters from both worlds realize them at various times.
Moreover, the concentration on story twists overwhelms the character development required to sustain our interest over time. In the first two episodes, the majority of the ensemble is set to “secretive” or “panicked,” which are not so much personality qualities as they are states of being.
Even the Harrises are not much more than generic protagonist characters at this point who presume our sympathy because they’re frequently upset onscreen and haven’t done anything to show we’re not supposed to like them.
It’s telling that the character with the most developed personality is the only one who isn’t injured, worried about a loved one, or otherwise burdened by a strong feeling of agency, despite being stranded in a strange and remote wilderness with no way out. Scott (Rohan Mirchandaney), a likeable Australian pothead, injects a much-needed touch of humour into the gloomy despair emanating from the rest of the cast, making him an early favourite.
However, even Scott can only do so much. There are occasional signs that La Brea has the potential to be a lot more interesting show, mainly during the series’ most exciting moments, such as the dramatic announcement of yet another amazing find or the hero shot of an extinct bird squawking at Los Angeles traffic. Intentionally or not, these feel like the series is embracing the absurdity of its own concept and amplifying it for laughs.
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La Brea appears to be playing it straight for the most part, believing that its expensive CG budget and several plot twists will be enough to make it an appointment television. And yet, for a series that begins with a gigantic sinkhole devouring an entire Los Angeles neighborhood, La Brea fails to leave much of an impact.
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La Brea Trailer
Is La Brea based on an actual event?
The sinkhole on La Brea is based on an actual historical location! The action-packed science fiction series La Brea begins with its heroes being swept into a gigantic pit near Los Angeles.
How did the sinkhole in La Brea form?
The rifts were generated by a group of scientists who had constructed a base in this time period, as the first season’s conclusion revealed.
What is the plot of the film La Brea?
Synopsis. In the early 2020s, a giant sinkhole formed in the midst of Los Angeles near the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Tar Pits. Hundreds of individuals, vehicles and structures (including the Petersen Automotive Museum) are drawn into its depths.