June 29th, 10 p.m., HBO
The summer's darkest and weirdest new drama has a hell of a premise. Three years ago, something very strange happened – millions of people all over the world suddenly disappeared at the same time. Nobody knows why. Was this the Rapture? Or something worse? Dazed survivors in a small-town bar watch the TV news run a reel of the celebrities who vanished that day: Anthony Bourdain, Gary Busey, the pope. The bartender grouses, "I get the pope – but Gary fucking Busey? How does he make the cut?"
Based on Tom Perrotta's novel, The Leftovers is relentlessly grim. Justin Theroux stars as a police chief in a New York suburb trying to keep the lid on a typical American town that's ready to explode after three years with no answers. Cults and gurus are everywhere; violence breaks out at random. The town holds a three-year-anniversary parade for the lost heroes – as the mayor explains, "They're heroes because no one's gonna come to a parade for We Don't Know What the Fuck Happened Day." The Leftovers is often difficult to watch: Bad things happen to babies, while even worse things happen to animals. But Theroux has never been more intense, as he tries to hold on to his sanity amid the madness.