HBO’s amazing drama The Leftovers returns for its third and final season on April 16, and at last night’s Hollywood premiere, co-creator Damon Lindelof promised:
“This is it; we left no dangling threads, no to be continued, no spinoff possibilities. We made pretty sure that this was going to be the last season of the show,” Lindelof assured Variety on the carpet before the screening. “The audience deserves as satisfying an ending as we can give them. I don’t think anyone wants to see a question mark at the end of this.”
Lindelof, who also co-created Lost, knows from audience dissatisfaction, so I don’t blame him for aiming for something definitive here, even if the design of The Leftovers doesn’t seem to require, or even lend itself to, big answers. But since this is my favorite TV show by a country mile of the last few years, I hope he might reconsider that “no spinoff possibilities” idea, because brother, let me tell you, I have plenty. Here are just a few:
* You’re the Durst: Hard-boiled detective show about Nora Durst’s days as a fraud investigator for the Department of Sudden Departures. Each season begins with a sad, black-and-white Better Call Saul-style framing sequence about her life with Kevin, which is so much less satisfying than when she was chasing down con artists.
* Mr. Cellophane: One of the better Leftovers running gags involves the four stars of Perfect Strangers all having allegedly vanished during the Sudden Departure, only for Mark Linn-Baker to turn up alive and well at a taco joint in Mexico, having faked his own disappearance. Mr. Cellophane, though is about the other noted Perfect Strangers regular who didn’t vanish: Ernie Sabella, who played Larry and Balki’s landlord and boss in the first few seasons, and who here plays himself as an actor frustrated that no one seems to remember his time on that show, or him in general. An awkward, Gervais/Merchant-esque comedy about fame and the search for meaning, with occasional “Hakuna Matata” singalongs.
* That Dog Won’t Hunt: Remember Dean, Kevin’s weird, dog-killing buddy from the first season? Ever wonder what happened to him since Kevin left Mapleton? Wonder no more, my friends, as this dark psychological drama — so grim, it prompts the Washington Post to rave, “Makes The Leftovers look like Big Bang Theory!” — follows Dean as he goes rogue, hunting down dogs and other conspiracy theories tied to the Sudden Departure, descending deeper into madness all the while.
* Did I Do That?: Spins off of Mr. Cellophane, after Sabella discovers that Jaleel White feels similarly powerless and ignored because Perfect Strangers has finally overshadowed its own spinoff, Family Matters. An inside-showbiz comedy that gives us a better sense of what kind of entertainment Hollywood cranks out in a post-Departure world.
* Brevity Loves Company: Family sitcom starring Joel Murray as DSD investigator George Brevity, who has a sassy wife and six unruly kids. “I wish YOU had Departed!” is everyone’s catchphrase.
* Goats Goats Goats: Mumblecore drama about the romantic life of the Jarden goat man.
* Patti Cake: Esteemed Character Actress Ann Dowd shows us what Patti Levin was doing whenever she wasn’t around Laurie, Meg, or her other charges: drinking and whoring and building the Guilty Remnant’s war chest through high-stakes gin rummy tournaments. Season two similarly offers Patti’s POV while she was haunting Kevin, and what her ghost was up to in between. (Also, oddly, high-stakes gin rummy tournaments.)
* Deadpool Karaoke: Love Boat-style anthology drama where James Corden is electrocuted during a taping, wakes up in a nice hotel and discovers that his eternal fate is to run the karaoke bar and offer the hotel guests a chance to sing and determine where they’ll go next. Kevin Garvey keeps popping in unexpectedly, often in the nude, never happy to be back.
I’m also workshopping an idea about the tent city outside Jarden, but I haven’t figured out yet how many ’90s ABC sitcom alums it would need, and whether any of them might not be better-served playing themselves on the Sabella or White shows.